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Callistratus: Descriptions

τοῦ σώματος διαλάμπειν χρόαν τῆς ἐν τῇ περιβολῇ λευκότητος1 τὴν ἐν τοῖς μέλεσιν αὐγὴν ἐξιέναι συγχωρούσης. (3) Ἔστη δὲ καθάπερ 5κατόπτρῳ τῇ πηγῇ χρώμενος καὶ εἰς αὐτὴν περιχέων τοῦ προσώπου τὸ εἶδος, ἡ δὲ τοὺς ἀπ᾿ αὐτοῦ δεχομένη χαρακτῆρας τὴν αὐτὴν εἰδωλοποιίαν ἤνυεν, ὡς δοκεῖν ἀλλήλαις ἀντιφιλοτιμεῖσθαι τὰς φύσεις. ἡ μὲν γὰρ λίθος ὅλη πρὸς 10ἐκεῖνον μετηλλάττετο τὸν ὄντως παῖδα, ἡ δὲ πηγὴ πρὸς τὰ ἐν τῇ λίθῳ μηχανήματα τῆς τέχνης ἀντηγωνίζετο ἐν ἀσωμάτῳ σχήματι τὴν ἐκ σώματος ἀπεργαζομένη τοῦ παραδείγματος ὁμοιότητα. καὶ τῷ ἐκ τῆς εἰκόνος κατερχομένῳ 15σκιάσματί. οἷον τινὰ σάρκα τὴν τοῦ ὕδατος φύσιν περιθεῖσα. (4) Οὕτω δὲ ἦν ζωτικὸν καὶ ἔμπνουν τὸ καθ᾿ ὑδάτων σχῆμα, ὡς αὐτὸν εἶναι δοξάσαι τὸν Νάρκισσον, ὃν ἐπὶ πηγὴν ἐλθόντα τῆς μορφῆς αὐτῷ καθ᾿ ὑδάτων ὀφθεισης παρὰ 20Νύμφαις τελευτῆσαι λέγουσιν ἐρασθέντα τῷ εἰδώλῳ συμμῖξαι καὶ νῦν ἐν λειμῶσι φαντάζεσθαι ἐν ἠριναῖς ὥραις ἀνθοῦντα. εἶδες δ᾿ ἂν ὡς εἷς ὢν ὁ λίθος τὴν χρόαν καὶ ὀμμάτων κατασκευὴν ἥρμοζε καὶ ἠθῶν ἱστορίαν ἔσῳζεν καὶ αἰσθήσεις 25ἐνεδείκνυτο καὶ πάθη ἐμήνυεν καὶ πρὸς τριχώματος ἐξουσίαν ἠκολούθει εἰς τὴν τριχὸς καμπὴν λυόμενος. (5) Τὸ δὲ οὐδὲ λόγῳ ῥητὸν λίθος εἰς ὑγρότητα κεχαλασμένος καὶ ἐναντίον σῶμα τῇ οὐσίᾳ παρεχόμενος· στερεωτέρας γὰρ τετυχηκὼς φύσεως 30τρυφερότητος ἀπέστελλεν αἴσθησιν εἰς ἀραιόν

  • 1Jacobs would emend to λεπτότητος; Welcker compares the elder Phil., Imag. 352, 27 K.
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5. On the Statue of Narcissus

5. On the Statue of Narcissus1

There was a grove, and in it an exceedingly beautiful spring of very pure clear water, and by this stood a Narcissus made of marble. He was a boy, or rather a youth, of the same age as the Erotes; and he gave out as it were a radiance of lightning from the very beauty of his body. The appearance of the statue was as follows:—It was shining with gilded hair, of which the locks encircled the forehead in a curve and hung free down the neck to the back; and its glance did not express unmixed exultation nor yet pure joy, for in the nature of the eyes art had put an indication of grief, that the image might represent not only both Narcissus but also his fate. He was clothed like the Erotes, and he resembled them also in that he was in the prime of youth. The garb which adorned him was as follows: a white mantle, of the same colour as the marble of which he was made, encircled him; it was held by a clasp on the right shoulder and reached down nearly to the knees, where it ended, leaving free, from the clasp down, only the hand Moreover, it was so delicate and imitated a mantle so closely that the colour of the


Statue of Narcissus
body shone through, the whiteness of the drapery permitting the gleam of the limbs to come out. He stood using the spring as a mirror and pouring into it the beauty of his face, and the spring, receiving the lineaments which came from him, reproduced so perfectly the same image that the two beings seemed to emulate each other. For whereas the marble was in every part trying to change the real boy1 so as to match the one in the water, the spring was struggling to match the skilful efforts of art in the marble, reproducing in an incorporeal medium the likeness of the corporeal model and enveloping the reflection which came from the statue with the substance of water as though it were the substance of flesh. And indeed the form in the water was so instinct with life and breath that it seemed to be Narcissus himself, who, as the story goes, came to the spring, and when his form was seen by him in the water he died among the water-nymphs, because he desired to embrace his own image, and now he appears as a flower in the meadows in the spring-time. You could have seen how the marble, uniform though it was in colour, adapted itself to the expression of his eyes, preserved the record of his character, showed the perception of his senses, indicated his emotions and conformed itself to the abundance of his hair as it relaxed to make the curls of his locks. Indeed, words cannot describe how the marble softened into suppleness and provided a body at variance with its own essence; for though its own nature is very hard, it yielded a sensation of softness, being dissolved

  • 1i.e. The statue of the boy.
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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.callistratus-descriptions_5_statue_narcissus.1931