The Migrations of the Gods
IT is exactly three quarters of a century since the greatest English poet of his time turned the weapons of his keenest and most trenchant satire against a Scotch lord, who had transferred to the smoky air of London the matchless marbles of Pheidias and his disciples. This nobleman, however, was not the first, but one of the very last in a long line of plunderers, who had been unable to resist the temptations presented to them by the plastic masterpieces of antiquity. He might have replied that if he had erred, he had done so in most respectable company,— that kings and princes, victorious generals, governors, and emperors had been guilty of the same offense before him ; so that his sin, if sin it could be called, should be taken only as an evidence of greatness. This method of defense Lord Elgin seems never to have thought of; and even had he done so it may be questioned if it would have afforded him any great consolation under the stigma which Byron’s immortal verses have forever affixed to his name.
The vicissitudes to which the works of ancient art have been exposed, as a result of the cupidity of external nations, form one of the most striking chapters in its entire history. From the time when Rachel stole her father’s gods, and by her neat ruse defeated the closefisted and unscrupulous old fellow in his attempts to find them, down to that comparatively recent day when a recognition of the reciprocal rights and duties of nations put an end, as we may hope forever, to the pillaging of conquered states, the only principle accepted by the world appears to have been,
And they should keep who can.”
The original motive to these robberies is well seen in the case of Rachel herself. It was to obtain objects of worship. By degrees, however, as skill in the use of the brush and chisel rose to the dignity of art, works of painting and sculpture came to be admired and coveted for their own sake, and to be everywhere regarded as lawful plunder. As early as the sixth century before Christ, Cambyses carried away from Egypt large numbers of statues, to be set up in the cities of his own dominion. Many of these were recovered by Ptolemy Euergetes on the conquest of Syria, almost three hundred years afterwards; that monarch returning to his capital with no less than twenty-five hundred which he had taken from the Persian king. The Artemis and Athene of Dipoinos and Skyllis seem to have been transported from Sikyon to Asia in the struggle between Cyrus and Crœsus. The Carthaginians, on capturing the Sicilian cities, conveyed to Africa the bronze Artemis from Sergesta, the bull of Phalaris, and various works from Himera, Gela, and Agrigentum. Xerxes, in addition to what he destroyed, removed from Greece the Apollo of Kanachos and the statues of Harmodios and Aristogeiton. The latter were subsequently recovered and sent back to the Athenians by Alexander, or one of his successors, and the Apollo by the Seleukidæ, who claimed descent from that god.
It was at the time of the second Punic war that the Romans began to awake to an appreciation of Grecian sculpture. Hitherto their art, like a great part of their institutions, had been derived from Etruria; such works as they possessed being either of wood, terra cotta, or bronze, wrought by Etruscans, who had been invited to the Latian capital, or plundered from conquered cities like Volsinii, whose two thousand statues were carried to Rome in 265 B. c. In 214 B. c. Marcellus was sent into Sicily to subdue those towns which had formed an alliance with the Carthaginians. In these Hellenic art had been cultivated for nearly three centuries and a half, and the Roman general, set face to face with its finished beauties, was not slow in recognizing its superiority over that with which he was already familiar. On the capture of Syracuse, in 212 B. c., he gratified his taste for the newly discovered treasures by removing a large number to Rome, and depositing them in the Capitol and the temples of Honor and Virtus, which he himself erected. These are said to have been the earliest Greek works which the Roman people possessed. The statement, however, is not strictly correct, since statues of Pythagoras and Alkibiades, undoubtedly by their own countrymen, stood in the Comitium from 324 B. C. till the dictatorship of Sulla. Still, according to Plutarch, Marcellus was accustomed to boast that he was the first to teach his fellow-citizens the beauties of Grecian sculpture, and his pride seems to have been just. Cicero records it to his honor that he molested no figure of the gods. On the fall of Capua, in the following year, Rome was again enriched by similar acquirements. On the conquest of Tarentum, in 209 B. C., Quintus Fabius Maximus, like Marcellus sparing the images of deities, conveyed to the Capitol the famous sitting Herakles, which remained one of the chief ornaments of the city for several centuries.
The conquerors of Sicily were not long in learning the lesson which Marcellus sought to teach them. Painting had already risen into such fashionable prominence that it was even cultivated as an accomplishment by the nobility. In 403 B. c. Caius Fabius had produced for the temple of Salus a battle-piece, which enjoyed the distinction of being the first work from a purely Roman source, and gained for its author the complimentary title of Pictor. His son, Numericus, and his grandson, Quintus, received the same honorable designation from their skill in the use of the brush, and the young Pacuvius, now a boy just entering his teens, was destined to become not less an artist than a poet. The mind of the Romans was therefore in a condition to receive the impression which Marcellus wished to make upon it, and circumstances in the political world placed within their reach the means of gratifying the recently awakened taste. In 216 B. C. Philip V. of Macedon, jealous of his Italian neighbors, had concluded an offensive and defensive treaty with the Carthaginians. At the close of the second Punic war an army accordingly marched against him. After an indecisive campaign of two years Philip was deserted by the Achæan League, and a few months later was entirely routed by Titus Quinctus Flamininus. The consul, on his return home, took with him a large number of statues, both in marble and bronze, among them the celebrated Zeus Ourios, of which more will be said hereafter. But no sooner had he departed than intrigues broke out anew, and Antiochus the Great was induced to come into Thessaly with an army of ten thousand men. This fact again called the Romans into Greece. On the defeat of the Syrian king at Thermopylæ, in 191 B. C., the victors destroyed the temple of the Itonic Pallas which contained his statue, plundered the sacred edifices in the island of Bacchium, and carried away the images of the gods. In the following year the war was transferred into Asia, another brilliant triumph was won at Magnesia by Cornelius Scipio, and the city was stripped of its sculpture to adorn the all-powerful mistress of the West.
Meanwhile, the Ætolians, taking advantage of the disturbances in the East, had made an attack upon the Macedonians. The latter, after their defeat at Cynoscephalæ, had according to custom been admitted to alliance by the senate, and Marcus Fulvius Nobilior was therefore sent to protect them. The Ætolians had retired to Ambrakia, which, having formerly been the royal residence of Pyrrhus, was filled with works of art of every kind. Upon the fall of the town Fulvius carried to Rome all its pictures, and no less than five hundred and fifteen statues, of which two hundred and thirty were of marble and the rest of bronze. Among the latter were the nine Muses, for which Fulvius erected the temple of Hercules Musagetes, near the Circus Flaminius. So complete was the pillage that the inhabitants complained that they had not a deity left whom they could worship.
On the death of Philip, and the succession of his son Perseus, the Romans, alarmed at the alliances which the ambitious young monarch seemed to be forming against them, at length declared war upon him. In 167 B. C. Perseus was totally defeated at Pydna by Lucius Æmilius Paulus, and soon after fell into the hands of his conqueror. In this battle the liberties of Macedonia became extinct, and it was reduced to a Roman province. The treasures of the entire country were now at the mercy of the consul. How well he improved the opportunity given him may be judged from the fact that, in the triumph celebrated on his return to Rome, it required no less than two hundred and fifty wagons to transport through the streets of the capital the works of painting and sculpture, including an Athene by Pheidias, which he exhibited to the people as among the fruits of his expedition. On the capture of the pseudo-Philip, in 148 B. C., another supply of statues was secured by Metellus, and employed to adorn his portico. These included the twenty-five equestrian figures from the hand of Lysippos, erected by Alexander in honor of the captains who fell in the battle of the Granicus.
For seventeen years the Greek leaders who favored the cause of Perseus languished in Italian prisons. When they were released, out of a thousand only three hundred remained. In this number were Diaios and the historian Polybios. The former, in whom long captivity had begotten a rankling hatred and the most inconsiderate rashness, soon plunged the Achæan League into war with Lacedæmon. The Spartans appealed to Rome for help, and an army again crossed the Adriatic. The battle of Corinth, which followed in 146 B. C., was to the Hellenic states what that of Pydna had been to Macedonia. In it perished the independence of the land of Plato, Perikles, and Leonidas, and the country was added to the ever-increasing dominion of Rome. An immense booty also enriched the victors. The wealth of Corinth had enabled its inhabitants to indulge their luxurious tastes without restraint, and the city was filled with the masterpieces of Grecian art. These were first collected with the other plunder, and the town was then set on fire and was burned to the ground. So great was the spoil secured here, and in Sikyon, Thespiæ, and other parts of Greece, that Lucius Mummius, the consul, embellished not only Rome and Italy, but even the provinces, with the paintings and statues thus obtained. Polybios, in one of those fragmentary chapters of which only a few lines remain, speaks of seeing soldiers seated on the ground, after the battle, and playing dice upon the celebrated picture of Dionysos by Aristides, and another representing Herakles tortured by the poisoned robe of Deianeira. It was only when Aratos offered him a large sum for one of these that Mummius awoke to a sense of its real value, and ordered it to be carefully preserved. Among the works carried away from Thespiæ were the statues of the Muses, with other marbles, which in Cicero’s time stood in front of the temple of Felicitas. The celebrated Eros of Praxiteles was spared to the town, however, on account of its sacredness in the eyes of the people. The language of Mummius to the seamen who engaged to convey these rich treasures to Brundusium has ever since been regarded as a sort of standing joke on the Roman ignorance of art. “If they are lost or broken,” said he, “ you will have to secure others equally good, at your own expense, to replace them.”
It was on this occasion that sculpture was first brought from Greece itself to Italy. Henceforward the Romans seem to have considered the art of every land as their lawful prey. On the capture of Carthage a large number of statues fell into the hands of Scipio, and were employed to grace his triumph, and subsequently to beautify the forum, streets, and temples of the city. The generosity of the conqueror was shown, moreover, by restoring to the Sicilian towns, as far as they could be identified, the gods which had been taken from them by the Carthaginians two centuries and a half before. In the Mithridatic war Sylla plundered Athens and the cities of Bœotia, the fane of Apollo at Delphi, of Asklepios at Epidauros, and of Zeus at Olympia ; even robbing the Olympieion at Athens of its columns to adorn the Capitol at Rome and the temple of Fortuna at Præneste. The sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia, however, probably remained uninjured so far as its architecture was concerned, since the gold and ivory figure by Pheidias was to be seen there for a long time afterward. The Luculli and Pompey secured great quantities of sculpture in their Asiatic campaigns, including the great Apollo from Apollonia in Pontus, which was forty-five feet in height, and in the time of Pliny stood in the Capitol. Murena and Varro, in their ædileship, removed to Rome the pictures of Sparta and the walls on which they were painted. Marcus Æmilius Scaurus, in the games which have made his name so famous, stripped the temples and other public buildings of Sikyon of paintings which that city had pledged as security for its debts, and also obtained in other parts of Greece no less than three thousand bronze statues for the sumptuous theatre which he erected. Antony seized in Samos Myron’s Zeus, Herakles, and Athene, all of colossal size. For the first of these Augustus constructed a shrine on the Capitol, but restored the other two to the Samians.
The example set by the victorious generals was eagerly followed by the Roman proprætors, who, so long as their plunderings fell short of a national disgrace, seem not to have been molested by the government at home. Verres,— and he was only one of many, — after desecrating the temple of Athene at Athens, of Apollo at Delos, of Here at Samos, of Artemis at Perga, and of several other deities in Greece and Asia Minor, received the proconsulship of the rich province of Sicily. His infamous conduct here is well known from the trial conducted against him by Cicero. There was scarcely a temple, portico, public square, or even private dwelling, in the whole island whose masterpieces escaped his hands. Among the more famous works thus seized were a marble Eros of Praxiteles, the bronze Herakles of Myron, the two Kanephori of Polykleitos, an Apollo belonging to Lyson of Lilybæum, the beautiful colossal bronze Artemis at Sergesta (one of the works restored by Scipio on the capture of Carthage), the Hermes at Tyndaris (also presented to the town by Scipio from the Carthaginian spoils), the Demeter at Catine, two ivory Nikes at Melite, and the bronze Demeter and Nike at Henna. From Syracuse he carried off the celebrated painting of Agathokles charging at the head of his cavalry, which hung in the temple of Athene, and was regarded as one of the wonders of the city ; twenty-seven portraits of Sicilian sovereigns from the same sanctuary; the Sappho of Silanion from the Prytaneion ; the famous Apollo from the shrine of Asklepios ; the statue of Aristaios from the fane of Dionysos ; a beautiful bust from the temple of Persephone; and the renowned figure of Zeus Ourios, of which there were but two beside this in existence, — one at the mouth of the Bosphorus on the Black Sea, the other that brought to the Capitol by Flamininus after the conquest of Philip. Cicero, indeed, says that Syracuse lost more gods through Verres than it formerly had lost men through Marcellus. The doors of the temple of Athene seem to have held in antiquity a rank corresponding to that of the celebrated works of Ghiberti in more recent times. They were entirely sheathed with gold, upon which the argumenta, or representations of events, were elegantly wrought in ivory in the highest style of art. Cicero declares that nothing more elaborate or magnificent was anywhere to be seen, and says that the number of Greek authors who had left descriptions of them was incredible. These, too, were completely ruined by Verres, who tore away the ivory figures, stripped off the sheathing, and pulled out the gold nails by which they were held together. It is difficult for the modern mind to realize the splendor of works like these. If the renowned productions of Ghiberti were thought worthy to be the gates of Paradise, what language will adequately describe these wonderful creations, in which the finished skill of the goldsmith united with the consummate art of the worker in ivory to produce a result that even to the instructed eyes of the ancients was a marvel and surprise !
It will readily be conceded that the countrymen of Marcellus had proved apt pupils. Within fifty years from the date of his death the sentiment which he strove to awaken had become so strong that Æmilius Paulus, the conqueror of Perseus, even appointed painters and sculptors to instruct his sons in the rudiments of their respective arts. From nobles the feeling passed to the people, until in the Mithridatic war the common soldiers of Sylla were as eager as the commanding general himself to plunder every object of beauty on which they could lay their hands. Still, the instincts of the Romans were essentially foreign, if not antagonistic, to true æsthetic feeling. They seem at first to have coveted the products of Hellenic genius from cupidity rather than from any just appreciation of excellence. This fact, seen in its strongest light, perhaps, in the case of Mummius at Corinth, is plainly discernible in the nation as a whole. By degrees, however, connoisseurship in such things became the fashion and culminated in what may be fitly characterized as a rage for Greek works. But the Romans never rose above the rank of amateurs. With them art at best was only a matter of the intellect; with the Greeks it was a matter of feeling. Influenced by the fame of the chcfd’œuvres of Pheidias and his successors, the Romans sought, by learning rules and technicalities, to acquire the ability to understand and enjoy them. With the nation that conceived and executed these masterpieces they were the result of a direct creative impulse that could not be restrained. They were the visible embodiment of conceptions which could find expression in no other way, — the consummate blossoming of the entire life of the people. The Roman mind might respond to them, but it could not originate them; and though its services to humanity have been equally great in other directions, it never attained to that sublime ideal height in the spiritual realm which has made the Greeks leaders for all time. So dissimilar were the feelings, lives, and modes of thought developed by the two civilizatious that the Latin capital was never without a strong party who held in honest contempt everything emanating from the eastern shore of the Adriatic. Cato was accustomed to complain in bitter irony of the fondness of his countrymen for pictorial and plastic excellence, regarding it as a proof of luxury and the decadence of virtue ; while Pliny praised the good old times, when even the images of the gods were confined to the simplicity, or, as we should say, the rudeness, of early representations. This feeling was sufficiently strong to induce Cicero, when conducting the prosecution of Verres, to speak of Greek sculpture as if acquainted with it only by hearsay, for fear of injuring his case before the judges. Petronius, alluding to the national character, declared that to all, men and gods alike, a lump of gold seemed more beautiful than anything which Apelles or Pheidias, crazy Greeklings, had produced. Certain it is that the stern, practical qualities that made the Romans rulers of the world were incompatible with that fineness of organism which is the first requisite in the artistic temperament. Hence it is that no statues of the first, second, or even third grade of merit have come to us from a purely Roman chisel. From the age of Marcellus to that of the Antonines the best works were brought from beyond the sea, or were moulded by Grecian artists who had settled in the Italian metropolis. Still, the rank of intelligent amateurs should not be denied to the conquerors of Hellas, and it is with interest that we picture to ourselves scenes like those which must have been presented at Cicero’s country house, when Brutus, Metellus, Pompey, Cæsar, Lucullus, Varro, and others who lived near him on the Tusculan hill, came in to look at some fine statue, bust, or painting which had been picked up for him in Greece. His love of such things is well known, and passages occur in his letters in which he urged friends who happened to be traveling abroad to secure for him, regardless of expense, anything that could beautify his fourteen or fifteen villas, scattered about in different parts of Italy.
The pillaging which had been begun by the Roman generals, and had been kept up by the governors of provinces, was continued by the emperors. Augustus, on the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra, transported from Alexandria, the richest city in the world after Rome, a multitude of statues of the highest rank, which had been collected by the triumvir in Greece and Asia Minor as a present for the Egyptian queen. Four oxen by Myron were ranged around an altar in the portico of the Apollo Palatinus, and an Aphrodite by Pheidias was placed in the colonnade of Octavia. At Cos the emperor appropriated the renowned painting of the Anadyomene by Apelles, for which the celebrated Phryne, or as others say, Pankaste, had furnished the model. This was hung in the temple of the deified Cæsar at Rome, but was in a condition of decay as early as the time of Nero. Augustus also obtained the Zeus Brontaios and Alean Athene of Endoios, the Kastor and Polydeukes of Hegias, and various works by Boupalos and Sthenis. Asinius Pollio, the well-known littérateur and patron of art under this emperor, possessed in his valuable collection the Aphrodite of Kephisodotos, the Dionysos of Eutychides, a Kanephoros by Scopas, and figures of Mænads and Sileni by Praxiteles. He also brought from Rhodes the famous group representing Dirke bound to the horns of the bull, which, either in the original or a copy, is now to be seen in the Toro Farnese of the Naples Museum. Tiberius seized at Syracuse the colossal Apollo Temenites, which Verres himself had spared. Caligula sent Memmius Regulus to Greece with instructions to ship to Rome the masterpieces of every city, and distributed them among his various country-seats. At this time was secured the beautiful Thespian Eros of Praxiteles, which Metellus had not ventured to molest, and which Claudius, a few years later, sent back. Caligula even intended to carry away the Olympian Zeus of Pheidias, but was dissuaded by certain persons at Athens, who assured him that so large a work could not safely be disturbed. According to another account, he had actually entered upon the task of removing it; but the vessel prepared to convey it across the Adriatic was struck by lightning, and the laborers engaged about the figure heard a laugh of derision from its ivory lips, and fled in terror. It is probable, however, that the statue had before this time been robbed of its gold and of the rich and varied ornaments of the throne and base. Nero also dispatched emissaries to Greece, Asia Minor, and the Italian cities, plundering the former country of its sculpture even more mercilessly than Caligula had done. From Delphi alone the superb Apollo and no less than five hundred bronze statues were sent to Latium. Many of these were used to adorn the emperor’s Golden House, near where the ruined baths of Constantine now stand. At this time the Thespian Eros was again dragged from its shrine and placed in the portico of Octavia, where it was destroyed by fire on the burning of that celebrated colonnade in the reign of Titus. The spirit in which Nero worked may be seen in the enormous picture of himself, one hundred and twenty feet in height, which he caused to be painted on canvas; and in the bronze colossus, a hundred and ten feet high, representing him as Sol crowned with rays, which he erected in front of his palace. This immense figure was subsequently taken away, to make room for the temple of Venus and Roma, and required the combined strength of twenty-four elephants to convey it to its new position. Its square base still exists in the area near the entrance to the Coliseum. In addition to the works already mentioned there were then to be seen in Rome the famous Niobe group, now in Florence ; the nude Aphrodite, the Achilles group, the Ares, and the Apollo Kitharoidos of Scopas; the Apoxyomenos of Lysippos ; the Leto of Euphranor; the Silenos of Praxiteles ; the Artemis of Timotheus; the Zeus Xenios of Papylos ; and the Leto, Artemis, and Asklepios of Kephisodotos. Of the Apoxyomenos it is related that it was so great a favorite with the people that when, on one occasion, Tiberius removed it from the baths of Agrippa to his own palace, the populace, at the next circus games, rose in a mass and so vociferously demanded its return that the emperor was obliged to comply. It is probable, however, that their conduct was prompted by a feeling that his action was an encroachment upon their rights, rather than by any intelligent appreciation of this masterpiece itself.
It is estimated that the number of statues which had thus been collected at Rome amounted to not less than a hundred thousand. It might be supposed that the cities and shrines of Greece were by this time without a deity. Such was by no means the case. Although similar robberies continued till the reign of Vespasian, Pliny, the contemporary of that emperor, declares that there still remained twelve thousand works of sculpture distributed equally between Athens, Delphi, the island of Rhodes, and the sacred inclosure of Olympia. Even a century later Pausanias found the Grecian cities well stocked with art, and enumerated more than three hundred pieces which were then standing at Olympia. There is nothing, perhaps, which can give us a better conception of the fertile genius of this wonderful people. Although wronged and plundered for more than nine successive generations, their possessions in marble and bronze would still have put to the blush the treasures of any modern country, if we except the productions of their own hands now garnered in the different museums of Europe.
But it would be wrong to suppose that Greece was always pillaged by her neighbors. Indeed, there seems never to have died out of more generous minds a certain chivalrous feeling for that nation, which, above all others, has been the intellectual light of the world. This sentiment was especially strong toward Athens, although it was by no means limited to that city. Even before the Romans had set foot on Attic soil, Attalos, King of Pergamos, had erected on the Acropolis a votive offering, consisting of four plastic groups: one of which represented the war between the gods and the giants; a second, the conflict between the Amazons and the Athenians; a third, the battle of Marathon ; and the fourth, the struggle of Attalos himself with the Gauls. These were to be seen in position as late as the fourth century after Christ, and ten of the individual figures are believed still to exist in the Vatican museum, and at Venice, Naples, Paris, and Aix. Antiochus IV. of Syria not only placed many statues in the shrine of Apollo at Delos, but also roofed in the Olympieion, finished the interior in a magnificent manner, and provided it with an image of the god corresponding in size to that executed by Pheidias at Olympia. Other temples and secular edifices were erected by various kings of Egypt, Syria, and Cappadocia. The same spirit at length began to manifest itself among those great plunderers, the Romans. Appius, father of the infamous Clodius, constructed a portico at Eleusis ; Cicero at one time contemplated the erection of a new gate for the Athenian Academy, a place rendered sacred to him by the memories of Plato and his disciples; Pollio and Agrippa, the favorites of Augustus, also contributed generously to similar undertakings ; and Trajan and Hadrian returned to that much-pillaged land many works which had been taken from it by their predecessors. It was the latter emperor, however, who showed himself the great friend of Hellas. In this he was influenced both by a recollection of its glorious past and by a far-reaching plan for restoring and beautifying the cities of the entire empire. Of the twenty-one years of his reign, fifteen were spent in visiting every part of his dominions; and wherever he went, sumptuous and useful monuments remained as memorials of his munificence and enlightenment. It was but natural that the country of Perikles and Pheidias should receive the richest favors of his patronage. At Athens he built temples to Zeus, Here, and Dionysos, the Pantheon and the Stoa which bore his name, besides greatly enlarging and adorning the Attic capital in other respects. The Olympieion, which had been in process of erection for seven hundred years, was now completed and furnished with sculptures in ivory and gold. Among these was a colossal image of Zeus ; the one placed there by Antiochus IV. having probably been destroyed in the plunderings of nearly three centuries which had elapsed since that monarch’s reign. The structure also received many figures of the emperor himself, dedicated by different cities in his honor. The generosity and zeal of Hadrian awakened in the breasts of the Greeks the hope that they might yet regain their former glory, and Herodes Attikos, the celebrated orator and statesman, erected at his own expense statues, theatres, stadia, and similar monuments at Marathon, in Athens, and other towns, and in the islands of the Ægean. But it was in vain. No second Hadrian arose, and art relapsed into decay. In the fourth century it was practically extinct.
The change of the seat of government from Rome to Constantinople was the signal for another extensive removal of art. Statues were now as much in demand to beautify the seven-hilled city on the Bosphorus as formerly to adorn the seven-hilled city on the Tiber. It might have been supposed that Constantine would employ for this purpose the innumerable works which thronged the streets, temples, porticoes, palaces, and villas of the West. That such was not the case is shown by subsequent events, to which we shall have occasion to allude, as well as by the discoveries which in the last four hundred years have been made on Italian soil. His aim seems rather to have been to collect the scattered remnants which still existed in the minor cities of the empire, and to supplement them by such additions from Rome as would impart especial dignity to the colonnades and forums of his new capital. In pursuance of this policy he ransacked the provinces from end to end, until there was scarcely an important town which had not yielded up its possessions more or less completely to his hands. Of the statues obtained at Rome, sixty of the most celebrated were assigned to the hippodrome, among them the colossal Herakles, which Maximus had conveyed to the capital on the capture of Tarentum, and which remained thenceforth undisturbed till destroyed by the crusaders, nearly nine centuries later. In that part of the hippodrome where the athletes practiced were placed an Artemis, and figures of pugilists, wrestlers, and charioteers almost without number. The spina of the racecourse was ornamented with the usual line of altars, bases, obelisks of marble and bronze, and columns supporting sculpture. A representation of Thessalia stood above the emperor’s throne, another of the Dioscuri in the surrounding portico. The Sminthian Apollo was set up in a different quarter of the city, and the celebrated Muses that had graced the sacred grove on Mount Helikon were now employed to adorn the imperial palace. A statue of Alexander the Great, which for six centuries and a half had been one of the treasures of Chrysopolis, on the opposite shore of the Bosphorus, was transferred to the strategion, or public training-field, where also was a Fortuna Urbis holding a horn of plenty. Among the works brought from far-off Iconium were a wellknown Zeus and the Perseus and Andromeda that had stood above the city gate. The former was placed in the already crowded hippodrome, the other two were conveyed to the baths of Constantine. The forum received a Fortuna Urbis and a Kybele, probably of marble, which, with a statue of Jason, had been dedicated by seamen on Mount Dindymos, overlooking the ancient city of Kyzikos. By changing the hands of the goddess and removing the lions which are her ordinary attributes, the Kybele, however, was made over into a praying woman. In the forum Constantine also erected his great porphyry pillar, which was eleven feet in diameter and over eighty-six feet in height. The shaft consisted of eight sections, the joints being concealed by laurel wreaths of bronze, and the whole was so enormously heavy that three years are said to have been consumed in transporting it from Rome. The column was surmounted by a bronze figure of Apollo, whose head was surrounded by a circle of rays made of the nails used to fasten the body of Christ to the cross. This was dedicated to the emperor himself, to typify his character as giving light to the city. By some it was said to have been brought from ancient Ilion; by others to have come from Athens, and to have been a work of Pheidias. Such statements merit little attention. From Delphi Constantine obtained another image of Apollo, probably erected to replace the one carried off by Nero, and also the great tripod, some fifteen feet in height, which after the battle of Platæa the allied Greeks had made from the Persian spoils and consecrated to the son of Leto. This magnificent offering consisted of a large golden bowl supported between the heads of three intertwined serpents of bronze, on the
coils of which were inscribed the names of the states that had assisted in repelling the invaders. The bowl was melted and coined into money when the Phokians plundered the temple in the second sacred war ; but the standard was left uninjured, and, with the statue of the god, was placed by Constantine in the hippodrome. The heads of the serpents were broken off long ago, — probably by the Turks, whose religion forbids the representation of animate objects, — and the débris of centuries gradually accumulated around the base to the height of about ten feet. It was at length exhumed in 1855 by Mr. Charles T. Newton, of the British Museum, its folds retaining, still distinctly legible, the list of states engraved upon it, the whole having been preserved from injury by the earth that had hidden it from view. There it may yet be seen amid the strange surroundings of the Moslem capital, one of the most venerable relics of the past, which for more than twentythree hundred years has stood in silent but eloquent commemoration of the glorious deeds of “old Platæa’s day,”— doubly precious because so few monuments of its kind have come down to modern times. The lines of Byron on the field of Marathon express a wellnigh universal truth in regard to the visible tokens of those great achievements whose memory has become the heritage of all succeeding ages : —
The fiery Greek, his red pursuing spear,
Mountains above, earth’s, ocean’s plain below,
Death in the front, destruction in the rear, —
Such was the scene. What now remaineth here ?
What sacred trophy marks the hallowed ground,
Recording Freedom’s smile and Asia’s tear ?
The rifled urn, the violated mound,
The dust thy courser’s hoof, proud stranger, spurns around.”
But Constantine was not content to be merely a collector. He caused no less than thirty new works to be erected in the forum, and there is reason to believe that other parts of the city were similarly embellished with such creations as the expiring genius of antiquity was able to produce. It is probable that these, with the exception of a few religious subjects, were nearly all portrait figures, as also were multitudes of those secured by him and later emperors in various parts of the world. Of such in general our space forbids us to speak.
The task of providing the city with statues was continued by Constantine’s successors. We read of eleven which were removed from Rome in the consulship of Julian. One of these, a Hercules, found shelter in the Cistern Basilica, but was afterward transferred to the hippodrome. Four horses of gilt bronze were secured in Chios by Theodosius the Younger, who also obtained from the temple of Ares at Athens the elephants which stood at the Golden Gate. According to another account, these were original works, made in Constantinople to represent animals on which the emperor had ridden into the city. Justinian placed above the arch in front of the Chalke, or vestibule of the palace, four Gorgon’s heads and two bronze horses which had belonged to the temple of Artemis at Ephesus. Constans II., in the middle of the seventh century, is said to have carried away from Rome all the sculpture of marble and bronze, and all the most beautiful ornaments of the temples, and to have committed greater depredations in one week than the barbarians had done in two centuries and a half. A large part of these treasures was lost in a storm in the Straits of Messina. The statement of his plunderings is without doubt exaggerated, since many of the choicest plastic monuments of antiquity have been found among the Roman ruins. The Eastern emperors, indeed, felt no direct antipathy toward the city of Romulus. Though choosing Constantinople as the place of their abode, they were, as a class, men of too much enlightenment to devastate the ancient capital, or allow it to fall into decay. Constantius, the son of Constantine, on visiting Italy twenty years after his father’s death, was so impressed by the august and massive greatness of those structures that have ever since been the wonder of mankind that he transported to the Circus Maximus the obelisk of Thebes, which Constantine had brought down the Nile to adorn some one of the Byzantine forums. This monument, the largest of existing monoliths, now surveys the modern world from the piazza of the Lateran.
Thus fostered by its rulers, Constantinople had become not only an elegant city, but a vast magazine of art. It contained no less than five palaces, fourteen churches, two public baths, two basilicas, four forums, two senate-houses, two theatres, a hippodrome or circus, and fiftytwo porticoes. Of the latter, the four erected by Euboulos, in the time of Constantine, were lofty and extensive colonnades, supporting each a platform paved with slabs of hewn stone, and forming a magnificent promenade. They may find illustration at the present day in the Grand Marble Terrace at Genoa, which, lifted above the arcades of the Via Carlo Alberto, extends a third of a mile in length and sixty feet in width, and overlooks the busy harbor of the Ligurian Gulf. But, unlike it, the porticoes of Euboulos were ornamented with countless bronzes, and when covered with gay throngs of pleasure-seekers, sauntering listlessly in the clear, delicate atmosphere of the Byzantine capital, must have presented a scene capable of awakening the admiration of the dullest eye. Statues, too, were set along all the principal streets, and in the theatres, baths, palaces, and even churches. A Diana and Venus were placed in the great senatehouse, which was also well stocked with works in porphyry and bronze; and another Diana in the Xerolophos, afterwards known as the forum of Theodosius or Arcadius. The forum of Constantine was adorned with an Amphitrite, sirens, the Ephesian Artemis, Poseidon, several figures of Pan, and giraffes, centaurs, and tigers. A suburb of the city took its name from a Daphne which had been brought from Rome ; a very ancient Kybele stood in a shrine in one of the porticoes of the Forum Augusteum, a statue of Alexander the Great in the Pittakion, others of Jupiter and Saturn in the citadel ; while by the horologium of the forum a Minerva of silver was to be seen as late as the eleventh or twelfth century. In the place known as the Amastrianum were a reclining Hercules and the great temple of Sol and Luna, whose images the unsuspecting Kedrenos declares to have been by the hand of Pheidias. A head of Apollo, said to have been by the same artist, was in existence until the latter half of the twelfth century. In the hippodrome, besides the works already mentioned as referable to earlier emperors, were a seated Minerva, a Felicitas, and a bronze Sol borne in a chariot; in the Forum Tauri, a reposing Hercules, representations of swine, and the colossal bull from which the square derived its name. In the Milion — a building so called because it contained a column covered with a network of gold, from which, as from the milliarium aureum at Rome, distances were reckoned — were to be found, among other highly esteemed productions, two bronze elephants, a much venerated kneeling Hercules, and a Fortuna Urbis; the latter, by a strange mixture of paganism and Christianity, being chained to a large cross. The baths of Zeuxippos, erected by Severus after his destruction of the city in 196 A. D., and embellished by Constantine and later emperors, were crowded with statues of the great heroes, heroines, statesmen, philosophers, historians, orators, poets, and poetesses of Greece, a few portraits of famous Romans, and images of Apollo, Poseidon, Hermes, Artemis, and Aphrodite; some of marble, others of bronze, and all of such beauty and excellence that, in the language of the old chroniclers, they failed of perfection only in not being endowed with life. This testimony we may accept with a good degree of confidence. The names of the works, as given in the list of Kedrenos, compel us to regard them as included in the number of those which were collected from the Hellenic cities of Europe and Asia Minor, and hence as by Grecian artists. This magnificent collection also contained an immense number of engraved gems, and an extensive series of bronze busts of renowned personages of former times. In the edifice known as the Lausos was preserved the Athene of Lindos, whose epithet, Laossoös, the Arouser of the People, probably gave name to the building. The statue was of emerald, six feet in height, and was reputed to be by the early masters, Dipoinos and Skyllis. Here, also, are said to have been the Knidian Aphrodite of Praxiteles, the Samian Here and a supposed Kronos of Lysippos, the winged Eros from Myndos, and the Olympian Zeus of Pheidias. The names given by Byzantine writers, however, are to be taken with more or less distrust. The identity of early productions was involved in much uncertainty even in antiquity, and this uncertainty increased with every century. In the case of the Olympian Zeus it was especially easy to confound the chef-d’œuvre of the age of Perikles with the image erected by Hadrian in the Olympieion at Athens. Still, as regards the figure which stood in the Lausos, it may be said that Constantine or his successors would hardly have been content to secure in Greece the later and less valuable work, while leaving behind that matchless creation of which the whole world had been talking for seven hundred years, and which it was considered a misfortune to die without having seen. The probability is, therefore, that it was this masterpiece of which the Lausos had a right to boast. Some conception of the amount of sculpture at Constantinople may be formed from the fact that when Justinian rebuilt the church of St. Sophia he found in its area alone no less than five hundred and seven statues, of which eighty were portraits of Christian kings, and the rest antique. The greater part, indeed, were of pure Greek origin, and over seventy were of Hellenic gods and goddesses. These were all distributed in various quarters of the city. Eusebius, in his Life of Constantine, says that the Eastern capital was everywhere filled with elegant bronzes which had once been scattered throughout the provinces of the empire. Later emperors continued feebly to protect these, and to employ them in adorning new structures which they erected ; but the creative power and impulse were alike dead, and the discriminating faculty was no longer able to distinguish between masterly excellence and the veriest of rubbish.
After the fall of Rome the taste for the beautiful constantly sank lower and lower in the West, until marble statues were not considered worth the stealing. With figures of silver, gold, and bronze the case was different, though even these were valued chiefly for the old metal contained in them. With art as art the mediæval world had little to do. Europe had been overrun by the barbarian nations, and society everywhere was in a state of restless ferment. Life was a serious business, and the problems which it presented for solution left no time to be bestowed upon the elegant trivialities of Greek painters and sculptors. Still, such works as had survived the calamities of war and the iconoclasm of over-zealous Christians apparently remained undisturbed for the greater portion of the Middle Ages, mankind no longer concerning itself with them either one way or another. If they stood, they stood; if they tottered from their bases through decay, or were overthrown by accident or malice, they were allowed to lie where they fell, till covered up by the drifting sand which no one cared to sweep from above them. Indeed, so little were they prized that they were often broken to pieces to serve the purposes of ordinary stone or to be burned into lime, though it was only in the centuries immediately preceding the modern period that anything like wholesale destruction was begun.
Of more recent plunderings there is little to be said. The reader will remember the rapacity of Bonaparte in the campaign of 1796, when he extorted from the helpless Pius VI. a hundred of the choicest paintings and statues in Italy; and again in the following year, when the Vatican and other celebrated galleries were mercilessly robbed to supply the needs of the Musée Napoléon. Among the treasures thus carried off were the bronze horses of St. Mark’s, which adorned the triumphal arch of the Place du Carrousel until returned to the Venetians by the Emperor Francis in 1815. From the illfated Parthenon, in addition to the Elgin Marbles now in London, numerous fragments have been conveyed to Paris, Vienna, Baden, Copenhagen, and other places, where they may still be found.
To discuss the various removals of sculpture in modern times would take us beyond the limits of the present article, involving, as it would, an account of the discovery of the principal works, the founding of the great European museums, and the variations of ownership dependent on gift, purchase, or inheritance. So extensive have these changes been that it is often impossible to locate with certainty statues described by Winckelmann, Visconti, Clarac, and other writers of a generation or two ago. The antiquities of the Giustiniani Palace have in part been left undisturbed, in part have been taken to the Vatican, in part have become the property of Prince Torlonia. Of those formerly in the Farnese Palace, some are now in the museum of Naples, others in England. The possessions of the Villa Campana have been transferred to St. Petersburg and Paris, those of the Villa Negroni to Paris and England. Of the two hundred and ninety-four statues of the Villa Albani, which were seized and sent to France by Napoleon, all except a relief of Antinous were sold there by Cardinal Albani, on their restoration in 1815, to avoid the enormous expense of carrying them back to Italy. In the future, as in the past, similar vicissitudes will of course occur, as family lines become extinct, or the loss of wealth compels the sale of private collections, to retrieve the shattered fortunes of their owners. Only when all the products of the ancient chisel have been gathered into national galleries, like the British Museum, the Louvre, and the Glyptothek of Munich, can they expect to find a permanent and settled abode. For the benefit of all students and lovers of art, let us hope that this may be at no distant day.
William Shields Liscomb.