Saturday, December 24, 2011

More Lucretiana

Scriptoria, Invocations, and a Philological Note
From Lorna Price, The Plan of St. Gall in Brief, an overview of the three volume work by Walter Horn & Ernest Born.  UC Univ Press, Berkeley, 1982.  Here I refer to the plan, whole, opposite p. 1, to the index drawing on pp. 10-11, to the reconstruction drawing on p. 29, showing the E end of the church amd the novitiate and infirmary complex, and the detail of the abbot's house on p. 40.  In the Index drawing, "a" marks the "Scriptorium below" and "Library above", tucked into the NE angle of the transept (in the SE angle is the Sacristy, below, and the Vestry, above).  The legends, the longer ones scanning, are in a fine Carolingian miniscule of their date, AD 820.
As you can learn on line, if you don't know, Fulda as you see it today is no longer the Carolingian monastery church that was indeed famous as a center of learning.  You can see original parts of the church of St. Michael, and the article from the Catholic Encyclopedia gives a good idea of how important Fulda was.  Based on archaeological studies over nearly two centuries, a reconstruction of the abbey church can be made.  But to get an idea of its place in the development of transalpine European architecture, it still is best to go to Kenneth Conant and Nicholas Pevsner, if English text is wanted.  And Greenblatt, in The Swerve, was wise not to insist that Poggio Bracciolini had to have found his manuscript of Lucretius at Fulda (the actually Carolingian Oblongus and Quadratus weren't known yet; modern texts rely heavily on them).  Yet, for all the reasons he gives, Fulda is not unlikely.
So the room where the monks sat to copy as well as the library space that housed Fulda's collection of manuscripts do not exist.  For that matter, if you go to St. Gall, the architecture you see is Baroque (and later in details), but the Abbey Library owns the plan made for the abbot of St. Gall, evidently (from the dedication on it) in AD 820.  We don't know if it was ever built in full this way, but it tells us more about Benedictine monastic organization and building north of the alps and the communal life lived in them than all the tomes of Mabillon. The scriptorium is labeled (and the sedilia are shown: see a on the Index drawing). It even tells us which buildings were provided with permanent privies, necessaria naturae, and how many posts were thought necessary in each outhouse (you can see those for the bloodletters' building, next to the infirmary, in the detail above at top left, and those for the abbot's mansio, at bottom left, by and large the same buildings that had rooms with a caminus (cheminée) built into a corner.
One of the great experiences of my student life was a seminar on the St. Gall plan under Prof. Walter Horn.  I happened to be the only member of that seminar with enough Latin to read and interpret all the legends on this tabletop-size vellum document (yes, made from three skins).  Everyone else had the task of enlightening me on the architecture.  I no longer have my card file of every single word on the plan.  On its web site, you can study and zoom and read everything for yourself, though I haven't found a list of the Latin yet.  If you can find Lorna Price's book, it is invaluable (though the legends are not given in full or in Latin).  The main point is that almost every novel or film or social studies textbook depends on the St. Gall plan for its evocation, if it has any substantial elements, of Benedictine monastic life, either from this plan or on the many studies, a few in English, many in German, based on it.  Monte Casino itself was less informative.  Notice the arcaded porticoes of the Abbot's house: at least this building had stone walls, as, of course, the church had, but Horn and Born are surely right that these monasteries had roofs steep enough to shed snow, and not tiled!
I do wish Greenblatt had shown the same familiarity with this material as Umberto Eco did in The Name of the Rose.
The example above suggests how the reading of Greenblatt's book is enhanced if one brings assorted bits of substantial knowledge to it.  It also helps to know at least a little Latin and Greek and to have read, probably in translation, the three evidently authentic Letters of Epicurus preserved by Diogenes Laertius.
First, though, concerning the Invocation to Venus.  I think that Greenblatt may make too much of its Venereal properties.  That is to say, any  long poem written in hexameters must have an invocation and it needn't be to the Muses as such.  If Epicurus had chosen hexameters, he'd have felt obliged to have one, too.  To address the force of Nature, of Physis, pervasive in everything (barring the atoms themselves), Nature which is generative and forcibly active in us all, is a sound Epicurean choice.  And an invocation must be to mythological entities (not to Poetic Inspriation but to Muses, for example), so to Venus rather than to Physis.   That is what Lucretius means by it, and he exploits it most gloriously for pages of poetry.  Why, in an Ode to St. Cecilia, for example, Nicholas Brady (co-author with Nahum Tate of a new singable translation of the Psalms, Tate who wrote the libretto for Purcell's Dido and Aeneas) for Purcell's 1692 Ode does invoke Cecilia, though in terms that do not stress her martyrdom, then provides Purcell and the audience with a virtual Middle Baroque Guide to the Orchestra, whose verses illustrate the virtues of each section of instruments, as if evoking the provinces of all the Greco-Roman pantheon, after hymning the Soul of the World.  That's just poetry, nothing to do with theology and not much to do with philosophy.  No more, I think, does Lucretius mean to worship Venus (rather, to reverence Nature profoundly and provide an appropriate opening to de Rerum Naturae).  But when "the jarring seeds of matter" kept singing in my head, recognizing the setting as just like that in the Frost Scene of King Arthur, I had to go and check on the Lucretian credentials of Nicholas Brady (which is fact are excellent).  Also, by the end of the 17th century, those "jarring atoms" were a common trope.  That is why I rather wish that Greenblatt had written one more chapter!  If you like Henry Purcell, as I do, you will love the 1692 "Ode for St. Cecilia's Day".
Back to Epicurus.  I had not read the only substantial surviving works, and I still have to find myself a good text of Diogenes Laertius, heaven help me (even for the 3rd century AC he is not the most inspiring writer).  But the Epistle to Herodotus is easily obtainable in Perseus, on line, even if you have trouble getting the Greek text there, and in The Epicurus Reader, inexpensive on Kindle.  Both of these include all the scholia (and distinguish them, too, from proper Epicurus); the Perseus** is the nicer translation, and the Reader doggedly excludes any Greek words, but the Kindle word-search comes up with all the swerve references.
Now, 'swerve' not only provides Greenblatt with his title.  It translates clinamen  (both the i and the a are 'long'), which proves to be a strictly Lucretian Latin word, though in its meaning plain as all the other -clin- stem words).  The dictionaries cite an "obsolete" Latin verb, *clinare, which per se does not occur in preserved texts.  Given that it is obviously cognate to Greek klino, one immediately suspects that Lucretius has done just what Cicero would have done: taken the Greek, formed from a Middle Voice participle, and used it, as we do such French as "de luxe" and "souvenir".  Consider, too, that LSJ (Liddell, Scott, and Jones, the big lexicon), in one of its citations uses the English swerve as a translation: eklínthê, he swerved.  We usually use that word for what an vehicle does to avoid hitting another vehicle, or a pothole.  As an absolute noun it is unusual, even rare, and poetic.  So clinamen would have seemed to Romans reading de Rerum Natura.  Besides, the Notes in the Kindle Epicurus Reader cite two studies on the Epicurean 'swerve', and by that name: "Epicurus on the Swerve and Voluntary Action," Atlanta, 1987, and H. Jones, "The Epicurean Tradition", London, 1989, AA Long.
** Under Epicurus in Perseus, the reference is D. L. 10.1, sections 55—83, where D.L. stands for Diogenes Laertius.
So my immediate suspicion that Greenblatt had not personally chosen 'swerve', though he made it his title, is borne out even by these elementary inquiries, and the range of translations for all the forms from klino in LSJ made clear why Lucretius had chosen clinamen (wherever it would scan) to explain why atoms in motion sometimes colliding and prior to space or distinguishable matter do account for...well, for everything.  And this is why the Church couldn't stomach Lucretius.  It isn't just that no gods are accessible (though their names can be invoked).  And, Lucretius got pretty nearly all of the Epicurean material from Epicurus himself.  Epicurus's dissolution of the soul at death is utterly antipathetic to any stretch of Christian philosophy.  The Church rather cherished the Stoics and certainly wallowed in neo-Platonism, but Epicurus and Lucretius are pure and serene atheism.  Like many moderns today, good Epicureans in antiquity could happily enjoy the art and architecture, the poetry and rhetoric of traditional religion (and they had no need for personal salvation), without believing in anything in them.  I mean, if Epicurus and Lucretius were alive today they'd be passionate about the Higgs boson.
It is more astonishing than I had ever dreamt: Epicurus realized that there was no beginning, because there was no 'what' to be a beginning of.  He had no mathematics relevant to the tasks at CERN.  He had no instruments to speak of.  He had a most remarkable human brain and in its exercise developed a most exceptional human mind.  Lucretius was his greatest disciple, evidently, and he barely escaped extinction; the two Carolingian Mss that we have seem to be the basis of the later medieval ones such as that found by Poggio Bracciolini.
To me, being able to read some of Epicurus and consider the questions in his language and the lack of mathematics beyond plane geometry, is profoundly reassuring; to be human surely is enough and more.
And the conscious mind is what makes one human.
I want to celebrate the New Year by making this post in time for it.  If I find more in further reading, I'll write another post.  For now, once again, I thank Stephen Greenblatt for his book and the Loeb library for endless good things and Perseus for surviving so many evolutions of formats.
And a Happy New Year to all readers.
CLINAMEN addendum
My excuse for fascination with the noun clinamen was its being the rarest, to my knowledge, of the “bare” neuter nouns formed on verb stems, that all are declined like nomen.  All are neuter 3rd declension. “Bare” because there is no qualifying element and nothing to suggest agency: nomen barely names the ‘know’ stem.

I have never shed my adolescent pleasure in inflections and etymologies.  I suppose it is due to having begun Greek, Latin, and German at about the same time and in that order.
Later, in that St. Gall seminar, dealing with the hypercorrect spelling, toregma for toreuma, only cemented it.
How wonderful that Latin has the consistently adverbial ablative case to help make sense of Greek use of the remaining oblique cases, not least genitive ‘absolutes’.  That Greek has the middle voice of the verb to explain Latin deponents.  Not to mention each other’s sequences of moods / tenses.
clinamen, n. ‘swerve’ is perfect for Epicurean atoms (or sub-atomic particles, for that matter) that in their unqualified, undirected state of motion prior to time and space (and shape) may bump into one another, to be propped by one another, without any purpose or will or agency;
flamen, n., cf. ‘blast’ as well as compounds like ‘inflate’ (unrelated in its stem to the masculine gender ‘flamen’ for a young priest), is the name for the motion of air;
certamen, n. is the name, contest, for matching;
flumen, n., memorized as meaning ‘river’, and, of course, the same as Italian fiume, is the name of streaming or (liquid) flowing.
Those are the ones that come to mind.  Like the stem verbs themselves they are intransitive, i.e., without agency.
The apparent Greek form from which the noun clinamen may derive (this is why I need to read the Epicurus epistles in Greek) is a Middle Voice participle, i.e., a verbal adjective of the Middle Voice of klinô, in Greek a very common noun both bare and in compounds.
I decided not to make this part of my Essay, proper, because my infatuation with the comparison of the bare bones of languages, at their most elementary, might not interest everyone.  But is it fatuus when it dawns on a young mind that the stuff in grammars is not the invention of schoolteachers or philologists but rather the natural science of language?

Friday, December 2, 2011

What I've Been Thinking . . .

Buster: Fast Food
When in doubt, post the cat

A couple of weeks ago, when the five finalists for the National Book Award in non-fiction were announced, I found that I had read three of them, all with interest.  Loving Lucretius for most of my long life, I may have enjoyed Swerve most, and Stephen Greenblatt writes wonderfully well; seeing a mature scholar give himself so wholeheartedly to my favorite Latin author gave me great pleasure, and though I had read accounts of the Council of Constance I had never read one so alive as his.  I was so surprised by his chapter on Montaigne that I decided to get the Essays complete and read him, as I never had done before.  I also pulled out my good old Budé text of Lucretius and re-read a good deal of it, using the French as I had done in university when I got stuck, to avoid slowing down too much by using a dictionary; Lucretius, however, is not so hard as Greenblatt says.  Greenblatt was reveling in aspects of the Renaissance that I have always enjoyed dabbling in, not least Poggio Bracciolini.  Yet I didn’t dare think he’d win the prize.  I was afraid some readers might think he was proposing that, if the Lucretius manuscripts hadn’t been discovered just when they could be copied and printed, Reason might not have prevailed in the way that it did.  I don’t think he meant that, though no man could fall for Lucretius more whole-hog than Greenblatt does.  I was, however, disappointed that he stopped at the point that he did, and I know that there still are lots of educated readers whose temperament makes them assess Lucretius by each and every error (e.g., the size of the sun) that he made rather than by the power and depth of his inquiry and the glory of his poetry (Screech’s Penguin Classics Montaigne is almost Thomist in considering the essayist’s faith, and he certainly does not make much of his references to Lucretius).
I was surprised that Deborah Baker’s The Convert, which certainly I had read with great interest, was among the finalists; I thought it insufficiently well structured and was disconcerted by its relationship to its living subject.  In sum, I thought that Mary Gabriel’s Love and Capital, on Karl and Jenny Marx would be the winner.  I had never read anything about Marx and his family and Engels that was both serious and treated them as living persons, persons living in a particular history, too, not merely domestically.  Though works on Marx and Engels fill libraries (not that I have read very much, for when I was a student one did not want to be noticed reading about the founders of Communism, and I don’t like ideologies of any kind very much, especially not when they’re argued as political science is), I think that Mary Gabriel has done an outstanding piece of work in this biography, and I thought it was the best balanced and most complete and likely to endure of the three finalists I had read.  I cannot overstate how much I have learned by reading Mary Gabriel.  I thought Greenblatt would get torn limb from limb, though his vulnerability, which almost asks for attacks, is no excuse for failing to read him, as one would read any poet, I hope, for what he offers, which is important if not exclusively so, and for the self-portrait, if I may say so, that his book provides.  I mean, we don’t attack poets, do we, for laying themselves bare?  But evidently the committee saw it my way; usually I am at odds with committees.  Stephen Greenblatt did win.

And then there is my fascination with theoretical physics and with astronomy.  Not wishing to confine myself to Brian Greene’s books or rely too much on the perhaps too lively video assistance of the NOVA programs (the books are really clearer, if you want to try to learn so far as a lamentable lack of mathematics permits, by reading and thinking over and over), I have tried and tried to get through Lisa Randall’s Knocking on Heaven’s Door, and I just can’t.  She explains indefatigably, as if for the very stupid and stubborn, what I don’t need to have explained, and she does not explain at all some things at the very heart of her work at CERN, for example, that I do need help with.  And her writing has all the worst characteristics of, say, Scientific American articles, only aggravated by efforts to entertain by talking about her encounters with popular culture.  I was prepared to like her book, from an interview that I saw, but I can’t.
Never mind.  I see that the difficulty of explaining Branes and Dimensions and the rest is due to human verbal language being created by and for our empirical, sensory experiences in Newtonian space and time.  I have to try to think my way through concepts that are, literally, ineffable.  Likewise, my brain’s ability to envisage needs not to be worried by a video that looks as if a here-and-now figure or object or event were visibly here-and-now elsewhere or otherwhen, too.  And I probably cannot ask for a resolution of exceeding the speed of light as recorded by instrumentation made by and in terms of a Newtonian (or Einsteinian) model.  It suffices to keep reading and thinking about it all.  History is full of funny language, as funny as black energy.  Someday it may be possible to name better what is being learned (it always has been possible).  After all, the only thing is that I want to know that everything, including parallel universes and other oxymorons, has no beginning and no end—and what it has, instead.  I mean, some enigmas are for Six Year Olds:
Elizabeth Ann said to her Nan: “Please, will you tell me how God began?  Somebody must have made Him.  So who could it be, ‘cos I want to know?”
            A. A. Milne, Now We Are Six, “Explained”, pp. 76–78.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

To punctuate the series

22 Nov 2011  Not on Pearl Harbor Day, as usual, but even before Thanksgiving Day (actually on the 50th anniversary of the Assassination of John F. Kennedy), as I was returning from collecting the old cat before an oncoming deluge, at the bottom of the Japanese Camelia tree, where its blooming always begins, and almost in the dark in the shade of the tree, I saw this new camelia (which the heavy rain surely damaged), so I took a chance that the baby Nikon could take it without flash, which these camelias respond to badly in a photograph
I had already decided to interrupt the series of essays on vase-painting.  Among the reasons are copyright laws and the abundance of good literature (as well as appalling stuff) on the great masterpieces of Greek vase painting, since I object to the use of most of the old drawings instead of the real vases.  Even more critical to my decision is the fact that the subject becomes far more complex in the periods from Late Archaic through Late Classical, and the best work (which fortunately was done on fired vases rather than some biodegradable ground, but is no less great for being on a pot) needs to be discussed in individual essays, treated in the same way as I have done the Miletos lion or the "Barberini Faun", for example.
In the album, for the time being, I can call your attention to a great Late Corinthian black-figure krater, Louvre E 638, Payne's no. 1474, for which I do have an acceptable digital image:
Louvre E 638 (Payne NC no. 1474; Amyx CorVP, pp. 574-5, often considered
mainly for its inscriptions, since, like the EC Eurytios Krater, it stands alone,
without another known by the same hand.  It represents the Departure of Hektor
for battle at Troy.
I could write a whole essay on a vase like this; indeed, it is pointless just to say how interesting and fine it is, and no more.  The very fact of Corinth's rubbing red clay onto the surface of these kraters requires discussing their Attic contemporaries along with them, the very works of Sophilos and Kleitias of which I have no photos that I can use here.

So, though I haven't at this moment decided what to write on next, I shall return in Teegee: Essays to just that, essays instead of lessons.  That also will allow me write true Opera Nobilia essays on some of the masterpieces of drawing and design for their own sake.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

V. Middle Corinthian Black Figure

Middle Corinthian Black Figure, c. 600–c.570 BCE
Munich.  The Dodwell Pyxis
I used to have a 19th-century dictionary of antiquities (in a paperback reprint) that dated the Dodwell Pyxis, named for the famous traveler who acquired it in the Corinthia, to the time of the Dipylon vases, then recent finds in that cemetery, which bore figures that the writer (was it Nettleship?  William Smith?) thought extremely primitive and childish.  He had a similar opinion of the letter forms on the lid of this pyxis.  In any case, it was the cast of characters in the Boar Hunt that interested him.  Of course, we know now (and some knew then, in the 1880s) that the spelling and writing on the lid are simply the work of someone less than a calligrapher (though about two decades later than the Eurytios Krater), and its animal friezes, as well as the shape of the pyxis itself, are Middle Corinthian.  The Dodwell Painter typifies much of the animal frieze work of the first quarter, or so, of the sixth century BCE.  Usually insouciant, his work is occasionally ambitious, as on a huge oinochoe (made as pretentious grave goods) in the Richmond, VA, Museum.  I can add nothing to the work of my friend and mentor, D. A. Amyx, on the Dodwell Painter and his followers (not to say that other work is not useful, too).  Humfry Payne, though, was surely right in regarding Middle Corinthian (MC) frieze work as more commercial than EC, let alone Protocorinthian.
BM Large trefoil oinochoe with triple handle and three friezes.  Late in MC, perhaps ca. 570 BCE.
One gets pictures of details for study as one can:
BM Large trefoil oinochoe with triple handle and three friezes.  Late in MC, perhaps ca. 570 BCE.
This large trefoil-mouthed oinochoe, with three friezes and a triple handle, is less idiosyncratic than work by the Dodwell Painter's best followers, but generically it is of much the same kind.
My own favorite work in Middle Corinthian is by the Corinthian Chimaera Painter and the painters in his group; I posted the one that first took my fancy last month, in this blog, before deciding that many of  the pots were after all not what you'd call opera nobilia.  His best plates, though, such as the Louvre one, have as much distinction as anything I can think of.  A companion of his, The Painter of Louvre E574, has a tighter manner of drawing but also is very fine.
Munich, Antikensammlung, 6449 (346A).  Purchased in 1904 from a Paris auction.
 Payne, NC 1047.  Amyx, CorVP 171, AP1.  Lawrence, most recently,  Hesperia,
 Supplement 28 (1996), pp 72-73, 123, L14.  MC/LC plate by the Painter of
Louvre E 574, who also decorated the famous Copenhagen plates.
These horses are rather comparable with those on the great Attic François Vase by Kleitias, in the next post, and are probably not much earlier.
Apart from the kylixes of the Gorgoneion Group (see Amyx in AJA 65 (1961), pp. 1–15, pls. 1–15, for a very enlightening discussion of the Medallion Painter and the rest of this group), the finest miniature work of Middle Corinthian—I have already illustrated the Brussels Aeneas kylix above—the finest, perhaps the finest of all miniature work in MC, is that of the Samos Painter, and for him the kotyle Louvre CA 3004:
Louvre CA 3004.  The Hydra and Herakles' companion
Iolaos at right.  Both the figure work, the floral chain, and
the lettering, in my opinion (AJA 88 (1984) pp. 59–64,
pls. 21–23), give this a relative date of c. 585 BCE.
The front of the kotyle is noble and sprightly and elegant, but the dancing komasts, dipping wine from the dinos that you can just see under the handle to the right of Iolaos, each one named by an epithet to characterize their nature, go around the back of the cup and are the most delightful of their kind.  Since Amyx and I published our studies, excavations at Samos have been published that, in my opinion, really link this artist with the Attic KX Painter and suggest that at least the latter spent some time actually working on Samos.  The Corinthian Samos Painter, however, made his cups of Corinthian clay.  My photo, above, though at least it shows the little cup in a lifelike way, is slightly too pink.
Here, copied from my article, are those komasts:
Louvre CA 3004.  Here are the komasts, Playful, BigButt, Phallios, Komios, and the rest.  At right, the horses of the chariot that brought Herakles and Iolaos.  There is a great publication of this kotyle in the Mon.Piot 40 (1944) pp. 23–52, figs. 1–17, pls. 1–3, by Pierre Amandry.

Just how great these komasts are can be appreciated by comparing them with those on the Berlin kotyle, Payne's no. 953, published as early as Gerhard, which are like wooden puppets rather than human dancers wearing padded festival costumes:
Kotyle, Berlin.  Payne's Necrocorinthia no. 953.  Condition outstanding; art OK
Alabastra continued to be made larger and larger, as much as 30 cms. tall.  Consider the two from Delos (illus. below) and from Tocra (Boardman, no. 369—he was part of that excavation and he published the Tocra (Taucheira) one.  This artist, rather fantastical, on whom I have published in Hesperia 67 (1998), pp. 302–322, pls. 50–60, began in the period of EC style and worked through most of MC.
Delos 431, Boardman, Early Greek Vase Painting, no. 370, by
the Taucheira Painter, who often doesn't know which wing
he's engraving!  But splendidly.  Notice the fashion for showing
a potnia theron as if she were an ancient statue of herself.

Here are two large alabastra in Berlin, both with tritons, as we call them.  The one at left
is itself part of the heavily embroidered "Luxus Phenomenon" that the Tocra and Delos
alabastra exemplify.
I think this will do for Middle Corinthian.  It is too much my specialty for me to write about it with too few illustrations, and where I disagree with my elders I want only to say what I think without being contentious.
But, between Boardman's book and these posts, I daresay you are getting more of these things than you are used to seeing.  Or are you?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

IV. Exceptional Picture Vases

The Eurytios Krater and the Gorgon Dinos
Paris, Louvre E 635, from Caere (modern Cervetri).  Payne, Necrocorinthia,
no. 780 and pl.27, a view similar to this one.  Boardman, Early Greek VP,
p. 199, no. 396, moves around to the right, to show us Herakles and Iole
(Boardman,p. 179, provides the Corinthian alphabet).  Among the indices
that date it are the head of Iole and the floral festoon on the shoulder.
Known from surviving written sources (indeed, these very names of Eurytios's three sons are given in a fragment of Hesiod, a good century earlier), the story, which this krater shows must have been substantially the same at the end of the seventh century BCE, shows Herakles feasted at the house of Eurytios, seeking the hand of Iole (whose name, by the way, as the digamma initial used here hints, is the same as our 'viola' or 'violet', which came to us by way of Latin), is not the sort of thing we have seen much earlier in vase-painting.  Herakles will abduct her and so seal his fate.  The Chigi Olpe, a generation earlier, does have names written for the little Judgment of Paris: 3 letters survive of 'Alexandros', the proper name of Paris, and most of the names of Athena and Aphrodite, but we cannot tell whether the artist had a specific literary story in mind for the main scenes, while the hare hunt is surely generic.  It is different to add a realistic anecdotal touch by showing dogs eating scraps from the table; they also creatively serve as space fillers in the composition.
Now, not to bring in here the suggestion that the artist of the Chigi Olpe may be the name Ekphantos (alas, just a name), what is significant is that we have very little more by the artist of the Chigi Olpe (see the preceding blog post) and nothing more by the artist of the Eurytios Krater, despite generations of efforts to match the little animal frieze on the surface of the krater's rim (Amyx CorVP III, pl.  57, 1a–b) with other little animals of similar quality, such as those by the Heraldic Lions Painter, which do, though, further confirm the relative dating of the great krater—as for an estimate of the absolute date, coming late in EC black figure, it is close to 600 BCE.  The Eurytios krater is a reminder of how little we know of picture-art, especially so early as this.  Its artist is vivid, skilled so that he draws it all with ease, delightful.  He does not seem to be laboring to copy something else, but it does seem likely that he did not spend his life in the potteries.  It is not that painting on wooden, gessoed panels is 'nobler', though engraving and coloring slivers of ivory (since the material cost more) probably was reserved for especially admired artists.  Painting on temple walls (assuming that they did paint directly on walls, as the Etruscans would start doing) was hardly, in my opinion, more prestigious than making these kraters the majority of which were made to be shipped to Etruria: that's where they're found.  Painting on slabs that formed tomb walls, as at Paestum, likewise was funerary art; we only assume that the kraters "must have been" used at banquets for the living before being placed in the tombs where they were found.  If we want to fantasize about Etruscan tombs, we now know just enough to find more to say than D. H. Lawrence's private daydreams in Etruscan Places.
There are a few good places to seek further pictures of the Eurytios Krater; the best is the Louvre's own web site.  Some of the bad sites are dreadfully bad, worse than anything you'd find in 19th-century books.  Some sites are just dumb and generalized with little, excessively processed images.  You can trust the Louvre and the British Museum. My own efforts to photograph the Eurytios Krater through glass, hand-held, are mostly not sharp enough to post, but consider these riders in the lower frieze.
Louvre E635: The Eurytios Krater.  One of the riders from the lower-frieze
horse race (I think of a 'cavalcade' as a parade of walking horses, and these
short-haired riders are, I think, jockeys, not hippeis (which is Greek for
equites in Latin) who raise and own the horses.  For vase painting, what is
most relevant here is that other horses at this date, if shown in motion, have
their hind legs gathered up below their bodies, and the drawing here is both
very skillful and very loose for Early Corinthian.

The Gorgon Dinos poses superficially similar questions, in so far as the main frieze, with the Gorgons on one side and duellers with their charioteers attending them on the other, do also seem to be evidence for painting of other kinds, "free painting" in some sense of the word, and its floral festoon is one of the most elaborate of any period:

It is not only grand and complicated, however, but also shows that it is later than the Eurytios krater.  Its splayed lotuses and the four-way knotted arrangement in the centers are more comparable with Middle Corinthian black-figure of the period of the earlier kylixes that, many of them, have a gorgoneion (gorgon face) in the center of the bowl.  Consider this early publication of the unattributed one in Brussels:

This cup, incidentally, shows the Homeric way of duelling, with one's backers, here riding, behind the heroes, and everyone is named: one of the Ajaxes, backed by the other Ajax, fights Aeneas (with the snake episemion), backed by Hippokles.  Dolon, almost as a space filler, kneels behind him.  The Gorgon dinos duellers are more strongly individualized.

I have always liked the way that their charioteers look back at them, over their shields slung over their shoulders.  Yet the Gorgon Painter's drawing in the figure work here is somewhat timid compared with either the Nettos Painter before him or the artist of the Eurytios krater some sixty miles away in Corinth, and one suspects that he meant to evoke some "free painting".  Remember that, even on the interior walls of temples and civic buildings, large panel paintings on primed wood could be placed in shallow recesses (consider the interior walls of the pinakotheke at the lefthand side of the Propylaea to the Athens Acropolis), so that we needn't think of fresco (or preclude it, of course).
Again, the Louvre's own web page on the Gorgon dinos offers several more images and so does Boardman's Black Figure.  Besides, there are more handheld details in the Picasa Album, as well as four images, nos. 91–94, of an amphora, Louvre E 817, by the Gorgon Painter, which is wholly in the manner of the remaining friezes on the big dinos.  In fact, we have many vases by the painter of the Gorgon Dinos that are in this more ordinary mode, without which it might have been a more demanding task to attribute the big dinos and the other work to the same hand.
That is just what we do NOT have for the artist of the Chigi Olpe (just four exceptional pieces surely attributable), let alone the artist of the Eurytios Painter (one early column krater in splendid isolation).
These observations are important because they afford a parallel to Kleitias and Sophilos in the next generation.

You can begin (if you want to venture on attribution by style alone) with an easy exercise.  Compare these confronted sphinxes (sirens would have birds' legs) flanking a palmette-and-lotus cross with a bird atop it with similar elements in the smaller friezes on the dinos.  And never mind the residues of dot-rosette fillers (he also uses incised ones, anyway) which like his predecessor, the Nettos Painter, he was loath to give up when he wanted something very dainty and unobtrusive.  Remember the old joke: Columbus made three trips to the Americas and died on one of them: which one?  Always date relatively by the latest traits.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

IV. The Adolescence of Black-Figure Vase-Painting
Corinth's transition to real Black Figure.
Paris, Louvre.  An olpe and a trefoil-mouthed oinochoe
of the Transitional Period, which Humfry Payne dated about
635-625 BCE.  Even if it's as much as ten years later, we cannot be sure.
The olpe is one of those from the Campana collection that are the
work of the Painter of Vatican 73 (see refs. in Album)
This is ordinary good animal-frieze work, nothing like the Chigi Olpe!  But developmentally, it is taller and slenderer as an olpe shape, and this same workshop before long will start using incised blobs instead of clusters of dots, or rings with a dot in the center as on the oinochoe in the background.  Also, we see on these vases a standardized design syntax, shape by shape, which will last a good half century, of which the tongues (derived I suppose from petals) incised on the shoulder of the oinochoe are typical.  In fact, this artist, The Painter of Vatican 73, turned out fine olpai so alike that you have to count the animals and notice the cracks where they are mended to tell some of them apart.  This is the corner turned that makes this stylistic phase Transitional—not only its rosettes.
Milesian Middle Wild Goat Style in its most splendid example.
The varieties of East Greek animal frieze vase-painting are finally being sorted out and dated, so far as possible parallel to Corinthian animal frieze vases, in most cases trefoil-mouthed narrow footed oinochoai.  But all of the "wild-goat" genus opted out of black-figure with incised details.  Instead, as if they wanted to 'respect' the integrity of the smoothed surface (and in some cases perhaps considering that their brown clay would show through the pale, almost white, engobe coating, especially in the incised lines), they more or less painstakingly 'reserve' the lines showing internal muscles and features and often leave the faces of animals as well as sphinxes in outline.  One of the largest and finest of all these vases is the Marseilles oincochoe, Louvre CA 350, now classed as Milesian (quite appropriately for such a rich and ancient polis) on archeological grounds.  If I were studying from Boardman's book, I'd make an enlarged copy of his chronological chart on p. 271 and pin it up on my bulletin board (or put its File handy to be clicked open on my computer's Desktop).  Milesian Middle Wild-Goat is now dated comparably with Transitional and Early Corinthian (black-figure), and, as for the Marseilles oinochoe (Boardman, op. cit., fig. 287 with discussion on pp. 142-143), the proportions of its neck and trefoil mouth as well as those of its animals leave me in no doubt of its contemporaneity with the Painter of Vatican 73.  It is extremely elegant, cosmopolitan.  There is nothing "backward" about the wild-goat-style's choosing not to use black figure.
Detail of Louvre CA 350, the Marseilles oinochoe
I chose not to photograph the whole, knowing that it is in Boardman and also confronted with lots of glancing light except where I could shield its freestanding case with my body!  Note that it 39cm tall and almost as wide.  Painting on the pale engobe coating here, they have a problem similar to that at Corinth, that the glaze-paint does not stick so well as on Attic (or Rhodian), so a closer photo of the splendid sphinx was called for.
To Compare large Early Attic B-F with small Corinthian (Transitional B-F)
Despite my resolve to wring instructive essays from images immediately at my disposal on my own computers, I do need at least one small Transitional Corinthian painter of alabastra, and not only because he is one of my favorites.  So I took a snapshot of Humfry Payne's tracing of Palermo 489, a drawing even older than I am, showing a very different approach to animals from that of the Painter of Vatican 73, above.  He illustrates the favorite scheme for alabastra, confronted animals with another creature or motif in the center; his lions are of the rich-maned Assyrian type (and with that nub on the bridge of their nose that we see on early coins, on lions, which numismatists have been tempted to over-interpret—e.g., as a sun symbol!) but the alabastra are still very small, about five inches tall, and the filling rosettes are still of the type made out of dots.
Palermo 489, from Selinus.  NC 76.  Tracing by Humfry Payne
Payne's gray shading is for added red.  I deliberately used my smallest pocket camera, handheld, lest the Clarendon Press (late, lamented) object to my putting it here.  For I need it to compare with the very large Attic chimaeras, one from Aegina, the other from the Athens Kerameikos cemetery, which must illustrate, I think, the same phase though at a dramatically larger scale and in the Attic tradition:
Athens, Kerameikos Museum.  Fragmentary, but it is Bellerophon on Pegasos confronting
an Athenian serpent-tailed chimaera; this bold type takes the tradition that chimaeras
have the forepart of a lion, a goat in the middle, and a snaky tail to the limit.
I'd be very surprised if these two vases were as much as five years apart in date, even making all allowance for that old argument about "advanced" and "conservative" artists, left over from the critical vocabulary (and its assumptions) of the early to mid- twentieth century.
About the painter of the Attic chimaeras, I wrote in the files for my students:
Athens, Kerameikos Museum.  Earliest Attic Black-Figure.  Skyphos-krater by the Attic Chimaera Painter (there is also a Corinthian one).  I do not agree with the revision that equates this style with that of the Nettos Painter.  In any case, this work is contemporary with Transitional Corinthian work, dated ca. 625, so should not be much later; the head of a terracotta figurine, at right, also is still 7th century.
I believe that most emphatically.  That said, we now switch to Boardman's Attic Black Figure Vases (1974), for Athenian work.  That was the first of the World of Art vase-painting books and probably covering the full scope of Greek vase-painting was not yet envisioned.  Sir John Beazley, in ABV (1956) lists The Chimaera Painter on pp. 3-4, and the above vase is no. 3—nowadays, more of us use the Greek spelling, rather than the Latinized, Ceramicus, that good Oxonians of Beazley's generation were taught (he was born in 1885).  By the date of the first Paralipomena pp. 2–5 (1971), pp. 1–5, where this vase is no. 9 (and the Aegina one is no. 1), Beazley's friends and disciples had convinced him that this artist was the same hand as the Nettos Painter.  Despite his authority and his own well considered convictions, Beazley was deferential to other scholars whose work he respected; it wasn't just that he was getting old.  The question arose from the publication of the three great Vari kraters, huge grave markers made in three parts, lid, bowl, and stand, and it is clear (to me) that at least two vase-painters worked on them.  The one illustrated in fig. 6 in Boardman's Black Figure book is 1.10 meters tall, from knob to foot; it is no. 13 in Paralipomena (1971), itself several years earlier than Boardman's Black Figure—and that is why I have to spell out so much here!
In the Eleusis Museum there is a very early neck-amphora, Paralipomena (1971), no. 3, which George Mylonas, the discoverer of the big Middle Protoattic Polyphemos amphora, attributed to the Chimaera hand (earlier publication than ABV, 1956) whose conjoined panthers, on the neck, you would agree is the same artist as did the same on one of the Vari kraters (Anagyrous, by the way, is the same place as Vari):
Eleusis Museum, from Eleusis.  Early Attic black-figure amphora by the same artist as the Kerameikos and Aegina chimaeras and at least one of the Anagyrous kraters, A; whether this is the same hand as the Nessos Painter is the very difficult question.
Eleusis Museum, from Eleusis.  Early Attic black-figure amphora by the
 same artist as the Kerameikos and Aegina chimaeras and at least one
 of the Anagyrous (Vari )kraters, A; whether this is the same hand
 as the Nessos Painter is the very difficult question.

But here is a detail which, when you compare it with the Nettos (=Nessos) on the namepiece of the Nettos Painter in Gisela Richter's Handbook of Greek Art, on facing pages 288 and 289 in the 1959 edition, is obviously by the Nettos Painter (and the bigger the picture, as Boardman Black Figure, fig. 5, the better).  Judge for yourselves: isn't it obvious that these are two artists, even if they may have been benchmates?  Every trait is drawn differently.  "Style is the man himself" (though Buffon had in mind only literary style, since, being a Word man, he thought that drawing and painting were just imitation!).
Detail of Athens, Agora P 1247.  Paralipomena (1971), p. 2, no. 4.  Note that this is NOT
a neck amphora.
But I must not get into introducing elements of teaching that belong in the introductory sessions of a seminar.
Back to the animal-frieze olpai.
Meantime, here is one of Medousa's sisters in pursuit on the Nettos Amphora.  Magnificent Gorgons, both terrible and entertaining:
Athens, NAM.  One of the gorgons, not childlike masks now, on the body
of the name piece of the Nettos Painter.  The floral festoon of lotus flowers
and palmettes are also in real black figure, but they still look quite early.
Early Corinthian Vase-Painting, and the Sphinx Painter
The Sphinx Painter was a little younger than the Painter of Vatican 73 and also quite happy to paint the same kind of animal frieze vases in his long career—the whole duration of EC vase-painting—but he also occasionally painted small vases.  Evidently he was respected in the Corinth potteries, since his influence is widely observable.  His style was straightforward but fluent and very consistent.
Here is an olpe of his in the Louvre and one in the Villa Giulia (Houston has another):
Paris, Louvre.  Shape evolved beyond that used by
the Painter of Vatican 73; the pendant lotus as a
center motif and his highly characteristic siren are
The Villa Giulia one simply rearranges his repertory:
Rome, Villa Giulia.  The pendant lotus may be a bit
more evolved, so too the filling  ornament; the lion is
very perfect Sphinx Painter.
The Syracuse Museum has wonderful vases, and from one of the graves at Megara Hyblaea we see the Sphinx Painter on the EC form of aryballos, round, still quite small, 0.107m tall, so that the figurework is about the same size as the corresponding group on the Louvre olpe, above:
Syracuse, Museo Paolo Orsi.  Sphinx Painter.  EC round aryballos from
Megara Hyblaea
A much more interesting vase, an EC alabastron in the same museum, is the namepiece of the EC Gorgon Bird Painter.  Again, Humfry Payne's drawing used stippling for the added red:

Syracuse, Museo Paolo Orsi, inv. 10701.  Payne, Necrocorinthia, no. 440.

Syracuse 10701, The face of the Gorgon Bird
On the back of this vase, under the handle, there is a lion's protome.  Let no one suppose that some mythical or mystical creature is intended by the artist.  He is just being playful in the best sense of the word: the bearded gorgon mask not only echoes the curves in the wings but masks the awkwardness (if this were a natural animal) of the conjoined avian-felines!  I posted Payne's drawing to show where the added red was.
Another glorious Gorgon, this one a whole Gorgon, is on a larger round aryballos from the Delos excavations, and this publication, 1910, is early enough that I make bold to use its photograph.  In Payne's catalogue it is no. 600, and in Amyx's it has five views on pl. 38.  Its inventory no. is Delos 330, and it is the namepiece of the Painter of Delos 330.  I have made some further study of this artist, but this is not the place for it.  Sufficient here to post this Gorgon, drawn with such panache.  The filling ornament is idiosyncratic (those dot-and-rings), and the vase's size (becoming a little large for a perfume bottle, except as a grave gift) as well as the style of the lion on the back of the vase show that it is near the end of Early Corinthian.
Delos X, no. 330, fig. a on pl. XXVI, row A.
In the second part for this period, I shall begin with the large vases with pictorial scenes.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

III. Early Archaic Glory (cont'd)

III (b) Protocorinthian
Under its early tyrants, and while Athens had not yet made any such ventures, Corinth's potteries became truly professional but, on the whole, not yet careless of quality.  It was in Corinth, on vases where it became customary, that casual use of incised details became truly (unless you count the filling ornaments in the field) black-figure: black silhouettes, with incised details, heightened with added colors, red almost always (sometimes called 'purple', simply because it often turned rather mauve in the earth or was fired not quite red—the redder the clay, the truer the added red (and the clay in Protocorinthian did more often show its iron content), white often, and yellow as well.  A few vases, like the Chigi Olpe, are practically in color on a black-figure base.  Attic vase painting didn't become nearly so much like full-fledged black figure until close to the end of the seventh century.
Louvre.  A "powder pyxis" (or, rather, a cylindrical pyxis) and three Protocorinthian aryballoi
Not all vases were customarily proto-black figure.  The powder pyxis, as we call it without assuming what it might have contained, and other straight sided little boxes but with regular lids, usually were decorated with conventional motifs.  As the Louvre's line-up shown here demonstrates, the little pointed perfume bottles, about two inches high,  might have plain silhouette (here with some red bands) or, without being necessarily later (details of the shapes are evidence for relative dating, as always based on the larger and more elaborate vases in tomb groups, those at Syracuse for example).  It might have been more difficult to date these if they were not in context, beginning even with the Cumae Group, posted above because still datable in the eighth century (that's OUR eighth century, let us never forget, though books and labels often talk as if the ancients had known how many years before the Christian era they were living in: luckily for us, they early began dating in Olympiads, which traditionally—and possibly really—were founded in 776 BCE).  As it is, despite efforts almost "Shakespearean" (with reference to the current movie) to prove the consensus wrong, we have a really intricate and well woven and well knotted relative chronology, tied to the few historical dates that we have.  Boardman's book is well informed and maturely considered, so you really can, thanks to dated trading posts and colonies with their cemeteries, date rather confidently.
The kotylai of the Hound Painter (Middle Protocorinthian)
The largest number of published Middle Protocorinthian is from Aegina and is still under copyright, I'm afraid, so I shall use scanned slides that I took through glass with Daylight Agfachrome film 30 years ago in the British Museum.  Actually, for teaching, these vitrines showing the true relative sizes of the vases, all of them small compared with the monumental Attic grave markers, remain best for teaching.  These posts are not for their photography (though the strip above here shows what advantages even a little, early two-megapixel digital camera has).
British Museum.  The Hound Painter's kotyle, H. 7 1/2 "; compare the size
of the ring-shaped aryballos (a novelty shape, of potter's virtuosity,
 and note the guilloche, and at left a little cylindrical pyxis.
Though continuity from the Cumae oinochoai is evident in that bud on a loop, and there is still a sub-geometric filler above the hound's back, the pinwheel rosette in front of him and the stacked rays at the base of the kotyle are of this new generation.  The hound has fully incised (even with double lines) muscles in his legs and toes; his lovely head is as expressive as it is elegant; he has (mostly worn away) added yellow ochre in the upper division of his neck (for no reason but decoration); every relationship of the curves of his contours has been most carefully considered.  [the pinkish color is due to age of the slide and cannot be fully corrected in post-processing]
British Museum.  Beside the vases shown above (and here the color is slightly
better) are one of the earliest alabastra (the shape as well as the name going
back to Egypt) and the very great, very tiny masterpiece called The Macmillan Aryballos,
which is Late Protocorinthian, about 635 BCE (see below), dwarfed by the kotyle
behind it.
On his other very similar surviving kotyle, almost a twin to this one, the Hound Painter again put a water bird under one of the handles, as here.  We think this work dates from just about the middle of the century.  As for the names of all these vase-shapes, the best way to learn them first is, as here, as they are mentioned with reference to real specimens.  By the way, when we say that a lion on an early Greek coin still looks like a seventh-century one, we mean that it resembles those like the one on the Macmillan Aryballos.
The favorite Protocorinthian aryballoi, shown in developmental order,
in the Staatliche Museen in Berlin.  No. 9 is almnost as early as the Cumae ones,
and no. 13 is even more elaborate, and even slightly smaller than London's
Macmillan Aryballos, by the same artist.
I have added a detail of one of the female heads on either side of the lion's head;
it is in the Album, near the end.
They may be made of plain clay (though well levigated and set to age a bit, probably, to impart as much elasticity as possible by allowing organic elements to rot), but their extreme virtuosity, even in nos. 9 to 12 (you who have taken a course in ceramics will gasp at them, and when seen broken the walls are only a millimeter thick), make it certain I think that these were made and sold as luxury items, just as perfumes were sold in Tiffany flasks a century ago.  Most other potteries didn't even try to compete with them, not even in Rhodes and Ionia.  But Corinthian clay, possibly because of the amount of lime in it, partly because also the glaze-paint had to be made from clay beds with more iron or less lime (or both), so that the glaze-paint had a different coefficient of expansion in firing and did not become one with the clay body, did not survive so well as the black glaze-paint on Attic and some other orange clays.  That difficulty did not deter the vase-painters of the wonderful aryballoi with lions' heads from painting and incising and coloring (by mixing their earth-color pigments) the molded animals and human heads, the elaborate battle scenes, the hare hunts in black-figure with added colors—however little remains, only traces, on the Berlin aryballos, no. 13.  It is this work that I think may have been executed with cactus thorns very finely sharpened and painted with a few hairs in the brush.
The Chigi Olpe in the Museum of the Villa Giulia in
Rome.  Like the two aryballoi, it dates from (in our calendar)
the third quarter of the 7th century.  You can see most of
the figure work more clearly in Boardman's pp. 94 and 95, but
I took these (clandestinely and with the best figure work away from
the light) to show what the vase actually looks like.
In this picture, under the handle root, you can see the clear remains, with names inscribed, too, of the Judgment of Paris.  There is a fine sphinx, too, that helps date those by other painters on little vases.  Then, in the major frieze, to the right of the Judgment is the wonderful cavalcade, and you can make out above the rider visible here the famous earliest certain representation of the Greek phalanx in action.
Move around to the left of the handle root, and, on the shoulder
you see the other phalanx group, with their episemata  (lion head,
gorgon face, eagle, etc.) showing on their shields; the wonderful
flute-player is on Boardman's p. 95, and so is the lion hunt.
Although the Chigi Olpe is 26 cm. or about 11 inches tall, its figures are only a couple of inches tall,  and the hare hunt below the main frieze as tiny as one of the aryballoi, though the figures on the latter are no taller than a half inch.  Besides, there is black polychromy: black with incised drawing alone, heightened with touches of color.  And all of this alive and varied and extremely elegant.  There can be no doubt that this artist, whether you call him "Chigi Painter" or "Macmillan Painter", was a major artist.  Clay may be cheap, but Greek art is not the kind that wallows in gold and gems, and it must be said for fired clay that it survives better than almost anything else, both because it is relatively indestructible (though, alas, breakable) and because barbarians head for the gold.  So we don't know what this artist spent most of his life doing, though ivory work was already becoming widespread and painting on prepared panels, too.  We have only vague references, of traditional memories, but the Levant and even Egypt were beginning to teach Greeks the ancient techniques.
The Chigi Olpe was one of the first things magnificently published in color lithograph drawings made with the help of a camera obscura or camera lucida.  Though these are large folios of plates and rather rare, with the digital camera it was possible to photograph some details from them without touching the plates, and they are still nearly as good as detail photographs, hard to get, from the vase itself and all in copyright:
From Antike Denkmäler.  The boy leading the horses in the cavalcade is
very hard to find in any other publication, and they were diligent in recording
the white dot decoration and the colors.
The hare hunt with the small hunter in ambush behind some rushes (?) also is too small to come out well in the usual photographs.
A detail of the hare hunt below the main frieze on the Chigi Olpe
You can study the Lion Hunt in Boardman, on p. 95.  However he got it, this artist has mastered the Assyrian type of lion which we know from the palace of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh, which, by the way, is hardly earlier than the Chigi Olpe.  Increasingly now, Greek artists will know and prefer the Assyrian lion with its long nose and rich mane.
It is a fact that the serious study of Protocorinthian is rather young, and most of the images that I used in teaching are still in copyright, or probably so.  In any case, art historically, with the help of the brightly lit galleries in the great museums and the well chosen array provided by Sir John Boardman in Early Greek Vase Painting, using these remarks as an introduction to his text (the least generalized of all his books in the World of Art series) you can form a good idea of all the regional potteries and of all the kinds of wares produced at Athens and Corinth.  It does no good to throw too much at once at those of you who previously have studied only the mythology on the sixth- and fifth-century vases.

P.S. I thought we should have in this post an example of a more "regular" Late Protocorinthian vase, so I found the image of the British Museum's aryballos, a little larger than the foregoing ones, by the artist aptly nicknamed the "Head-in-Air Painter" (the animals have such an Attitude!):
The Head-in-Air Painter.  Fine but "regular" Late Protocorinthian.
There is a grayscale image in the Album showing two more
views of it.