Abbildungen der Seite

Symbolic Figures of the Parthenon.

421 over, the muscular contraction of the right fore-arm indicates an easy clenching of the hand, as if it grasped a spear, while the height of that arm, and the slight fulness of the biceps, seem to prove that the spear was pressed against the ground. Now this action agrees with that of Cephalus, as he usually appears on the ancient coins of Cephalonia. Although the legendary apocrypha of Athenian story confound this mythical creature with certain supposititious heroes of the same name, there can be little doubt that he was originally, as that name argues, an impersonation of shade, or twilight, called Képaλos, quasi κvépaλos, from κvéþaç, diluculum. The propriety of placing a symbolic figure of Twilight in juxta-position with the rising sun, before which it is about to fly, is obvious; and here the statue answers to the myth which relates that, as Aurora opened the gates of heaven, she descried Cephalus looking out for the coming day, with his hunting spear in his hand, and, enamoured of his beauty, carried him off to Olympus, and wedded him.

The next group consists of two scated female figures, with a third upright and advancing, her light cloak fluttering behind, which are generally known as Ceres and Proserpine, with Iris before them. They are, I apprehend, the Horæ, or Seasons,-two in the primitive scheme of mythology; but afterwards a third and younger sister was added. Their names, Dice, Eunomia, and Irene, were significant of the analogy which was deemed to prevail between the course and due state of the physical world and the moral. Irene, the bland, hopeful, and cheering Spring, was a type of peace, which could only proceed from the two kindred powers,-Eunomia, Summer, whose even brightness and fruitful regularity outshadowed the condition of a well-conducted polity; and Dice, in whom the stern, cold gravity of Winter was a fit emblem of the crude and germinal principle of social law. The right hand of Irene being linked in that of Eunomia, while the elder sister laid her head upon the shoulder of the latter, suggested the idea of rude, primæval justice, typified by Winter, having resigned her more direct and coarser rule, giving way to the riper developments and formal proprieties of Eunomia, who was sending forth Irene on her beneficent mission. Yet, by one of those exquisite felicities of genius which distinguished the old Greck art, the glad, airy, salient image of Irene turns itself slightly towards the others, as it moves, as if looking to them for guidance, and confessing its dependence upon their counsels and determination. This movement being such as to describe an arc, also implied the union and cyclical succession of the three, as essential to the existence and the destinies of each.

These three figures, along with that which I take to be Cephalus, are balanced on the opposite side of the picture, by the Fates, and a statue of Victory, winged. The Chevalier Bröndsted

thinks that the last must have been a fourth Fate,-one of those special attendants on divine personalities which were not unknown to Grecian fancy. Unfortunately for this notion, the sockets for the wings are still visible in the shoulders of the torso; and who ever heard of a flying Fate? Besides, if we have regard to that principle of complement and equipoise, which is apparent in the extreme points of the composition, and must be presumed to have had sway throughout, we shall find that Victory, and nothing else, is the needful counterpart of Irene. The chord cannot otherwise be completed.

Victory, then, with an action corresponding to that of the Irene, not having yet withdrawn the look reverted in petition to Clotho, the youngest of the Fates, for leave to join herself to the Virgin Warrior, receiving that permission, stretches her wings to fly to the side of her henceforth inseparable ruler and companion. To this permission Lachesis consents, laying aside her distaff, solemnly authorized to confirm the grace by Atropos, the inexorable, the determiner, who, casting herself down, weary and released, contemplates the departing night as the sign of rest, and the termination of her remorseless reign.

The chasm which unhappily occurs between the Seasons and the Winged Victory, leaves only too wide a space open to conjectural sagacity. M. Quatimère de Quincy gives a drawing of the supposed group, in which Jupiter appears, seated on a throne, with his head gaping like a volcano, and the goddess ascending through the rift:-a monstrous and revolting representation, on which Phidias could never have ventured, without incurring the doom that awaited public impiety. Bröndsted, rejecting this fancy as hideous and impossible, is of opinion that Minerva was seen rising from behind her sire. With great deference to the antiquarian learning of that astute writer, we cannot readily believe that any part of the entire figure of the deity was concealed. On the face of her own supreme temple, she must, I think, have been the most conspicuous person represented. Looking, therefore, to the outline prescribed by the form of the tympanum, and to the known object of the composition, we suggest, not without diffidence, that the throne of Jove was raised above the floor of the pediment, the eagle being placed below his feet. As the goddess, in her glittering armour, springing from his brain, alighted on the topmost step, or, perchance, partly on the rim of the Ægis, the paternal god drew himself back, inclining to the left, to observe the prodigy,-a posture which afforded opportunity to mark, by the returning motion of the head, the inchoate nod, his approbation of her presence, and sovereign confirmation of her gifts; while she, leaning towards him with a beginning gesture of homage and salutation, brought her golden crest and spear into the apex of the pediment. Behind

Splendour of the Temple.


the throne stood Ilithyia, in attendance on the parent, and an augury of happy fortune to the child, balanced by Venus Murcia, with expanded arms, prepared to welcome and endow with her own beauty the resplendent stranger. Near to her, half retiring in amazement, but still fixed in admiration, stood Vulcan, leaning on his hatchet, to whom corresponded, on the other side, Prometheus: one, the deity who presided over the mechanical arts, all structural labour, and craft of execution; the other, he who, by pure wisdom, reasonable forethought, and prophetic imagination, (the sources, among other things, of design,) had command, as we learn from Eschylus, of the fontal principles,— the animating fire and spiritual wealth of Art. Next to Prometheus came Mercury, the genius of prudential shrewdness, politic craft, and persuasive speech; counterpoised by Mars, the spirit of vigorous, fiery, and prompt self-vindication: and beyond them, corresponding to each other, Bacchus, the personified element of fervid, joyous, vital, youthful energy and inspiration; opposed to his appropriate supplement and antithesis, the venerable Themis, maternal deity of counsel, order, and legislation. The combined attributes of these several deities made up that synthesis and consummation of the powers of godhead, which constituted Minerva the equal and the favourite of the Thunderer himself. To the right, all was morning and opening light, and youth, and spring, and peace, setting out on her career of blessing; to the left, Victory set free, and rushing to the side of her future and perpetual mistress, Fate, abdicating all dominion over one whose destinies were in her own control, and darkness disappearing from the scene. And thus was symbolized and visibly declared to the world,-what, indeed, the Temple itself betokened, the dawn of a new and glorious era. Thus was it proclaimed, that the birth of the guardian goddess of Athens, the last and noblest of the offspring of Jove, inaugurated a fairer age, a more auspicious domination.

The spoils of the vanquished Persians affording gold in inexhaustible abundance, the people, in the raptures of their triumph, insisted on a profuse employment of the precious metal to decorate the sacred sculptures. The blaze of light reflected from the pure white walls was so intense and uniform, that the very columns threw a shadow on the building which they enclosed hence it was judged necessary that colour (vermilion, blue, green, and saffron) should be used, on both the statues and the metopes, as well to bring the gilding into chromatic harmony, as to give relief and full effect to the composition, especially as viewed from a distance. Like some serene and steadfast cloud, self-moulded into symmetry, hung in the purple ether, the mariner, as he sailed round Cape Sunium, on his way to the Piræus, beheld the fane of his divine patroness resting upon the rock, and bearing on its front the august and life

like effigies, which spoke to him of proud achievement and propitious deity; and as he gazed upon the phantom, refulgent with the ardours of a Grecian sun, he fell on his knees and worshipped, as if he recognised therein a bright celestial Apocalypse, and discerned with open face the gods in their own radiant persons, "breathing empyreal air," instinct with immortality, and moving stately and sublime in their native and congenial element. It was on the farther side of the Ilissus, almost directly opposite to the face of the Parthenon, that, as Plato represents, Socrates and his young friend Phædrus reclined at summer noon under the shade of the plane-tree, in a spot sacred to Achelois and certain nymphs, discoursing of love and beauty, and the immutable principles of aesthetic rectitude and truth. One of the gorgeous fables with which the sage entertained and edified his companion, while they inhaled the odours of the agnus-castus, not all unconscious of the ripple of the river, or the shrill chirrup of the grasshoppers, was evidently caught from the arrangement of the marbles now under consideration. As they rose to quit the scene of a dialogue as memorable for its kindly tone of mingled sympathy and apprehension, as for the subtile speculations which result in lessons of deepest wisdom and affectionate monition, Socrates says:

"Shall we not offer up a prayer before we go? "PHEDRUS.-Why should we not?

"SOCRATES. O beloved Pan! O benignant, gracious, and kindred spirit of all vital nature! and all ye gods, ye divine principles, activities, and influences, whose dwelling is in this place! grant me to be beautiful in soul; that so all I possess, or can accomplish, of things external, may be at peace, in concord, unity, and adequation with those within. Teach me to esteem wisdom, the genial discernment of the good, the true, the fair, the only riches; and give me so much wealth, the actual possession of those riches, and so much only, as a good and holy man may both manage and enjoy.-Phædrus, want we any thing more? for my prayer is finished.

"PHEDRUS.-Pray that I may be even as yourself; for the blessings of friends are common."

It is in the spirit of that prayer, in the faith of that response, that we desire, according to our opportunities and power, to do what in us lies to make our friends, and fellow-citizens in general, participant of the pure and ennobling pleasure which attends the study of Art,-a pleasure which, limited by scant attainments and imperfect insight, has, nevertheless, been fruitful to ourselves of many of the dearest blessings of our life. It is a spur to various and high intellectual exertion, inferring much of patience, fortitude, and hopeful energy: for Art is not, nor ought to be regarded as, the frivolous embellishment of an idle and voluptuous existence, but the fine inspiration of a thoroughly accomplished understanding, an understanding not severed from the heart, and commencing only with the rigid

Chemical Researches in Common Life.


formalities and iron mechanism of worldly science, "purchasing knowledge by the loss of power;" but fed, and warmed, and brightened, and endued with genial sagacity by the living soul that flows through and impregnates its whole substance and activity. As long as there are faculties in man which can find their aliment and satisfaction in nothing else than ideal semblances of the good, the true, and the beautiful, so long will Art remain a profound necessity of human nature: nor can that nature ever be adorned with the final grace and loveliness of Virtue,-never can it be verily invested with the perfect "beauty of holiness,"-till it has learned to appreciate and reverence the holiness of Beauty.

ART. VI.-1. The Chemistry of Common Life. By JAMES F. W. JOHNSTON, M.A., F.R.S.S. London and Edinburgh, Author of "Lectures on Agricultural Chemistry and Geology," A Catechism of Agricultural Chemistry and Geology," &c. In Two Vols. 8vo. Edinburgh and London: William

Blackwood and Sons. 1855.

2. Household Chemistry: or, Rudiments of the Science applied to Everyday Life. By ALBERT J. BERNAYS, Ph.D., F.C.S., Author of "Lectures on Agriculture," &c. Third Edition, considerably enlarged. 12mo. London: Sampson Low and Son. 1854.

ST. AUGUSTINE reckons up a dozen different divinities employed about a stalk of corn; every one of whom, according to his particular function, takes a peculiar care of it at different times, from the moment the seed has been thrown into the earth till the produce arrives at maturity. Augustine was a man of enthusiastic temperament and poetic fervour; but this is the remark of Rollin, who was neither the one nor the other. Dr. Adam Smith, a man still less to be suspected of "the vision and the faculty divine," was the first to ascribe to the processes of Art this multiplex agency at work in nature, in his well-known passage on the manufacture of a pin: "One man draws out the wire, another straights it, a third cuts it, a fourth points it, a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving the head; to make the head requires two or three distinct operations; to put it in is a peculiar business, to whiten the pins is another; it is even a trade by itself to put them into the paper; and the important business of making a pin is, in this manner, divided into about eighteen distinct operations, which in some manufactories are all performed by distinct hands," &c. Such is the foundation of that celebrated work, the "Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations;" for such is the foundation on which is reared Smith's superstructure of "the division of

« ZurückWeiter »