THE MAJESTIC BEAUTY OF GREEK ART

SO deep was the Athenian love of sculpture that they did not abandon the policy of building temples to the gods even when the treasury was being exhausted by the war. Athene's temple, the Parthenon, begun in 447 B.C., with its processional approach, the Propylaea, was the greatest work Many scenes out of Greek comedy are represented on ancient ceramic vases. This incident, copied from a vase, shows two characters fighting before the goddess Juno. of Greek architecture. Here the Athenians worshipped their goddess, not more in ritual forms than in marble. The emancipation from the stiffness of Egyptian statuary is complete, and the human form, naked and unashamed, lives and moves. We still possess the frieze which ran round the outer upper part of the temple. The young Athenians are riding their horses in the Panathenaic procession, idealised human figures, for ever young and for ever new. We possess only descriptions of Phidias's great statue of Zeus at Olympia, but they can give us an idea of its profound majesty. The next age depicted the gods, not as the bearded councillors of Zeus, but as men of great beauty and grave serenity. There is no anguish on the brow of the Hermes of Praxiteles. His countenance is godlike in its unruffled contemplation. No greater mistake can be made than to suppose that Greek sculpture was one of cold perfection. The men and gods whom the Greeks sculptured were calm because they rested secure in their view of life, and believed that the gods approved " the depth and not the tumult of the soul." Later sculptors could not breathe this rarefied Olympian air, and showed men in violent action, with their faces expressing every sort of emotion. A better taste will prefer the tombstones, which show us many examples of restrained sorrow. Emotion is there, but no hysteria, for " mortals must have mortal thoughts." Many of the statues were painted, but the colouring was done with restraint. The design of the Greek temple has its limitations. Great spaces could be covered only by making the columns more ponderous, for the arch with which the Romans built their gigantic aqueducts and bridges was unknown to the Greeks. The Greek temple, particularly in the early Doric style, was simple and unadorned. Every part was designed to fulfil a special function, and was not loaded with superfluous ornament. Various optical corrections were introduced to give the impression of stability and straight lines. They even made the end column thicker because, being in the light, it would otherwise appear smaller than the columns against the background of the building. I