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Callistratus: Descriptions

5χεῖρες ζωτικὰ διόλου κατεσκεύαζον τὰ τεχνήματα. (2) Ἄλσος ἦν καὶ Διόνυσος εἱστήκει ἠιθέου σχῆμα μιμούμενος, οὕτω μὲν ἁπαλός, ὡς πρὸς σάρκα μεταρρυθμίζεσθαι τὸν χαλκόν, οὕτω δὲ ὑγρὸν καὶ κεχαλασμένον ἔχων τὸ σῶμα, ὡς 10ἐξ ἑτέρας ὕλης, ἀλλὰ μὴ χαλκοῦ πεφυκώς, ὃς χαλκὸς μὲν ὢν ἠρυθραίνετο, ζωῆς δὲ μετουσίαν οὐκ ἔχων ἐβούλετο τὴν ἰδέαν δεικνύναι, ἁψαμένῳ δέ σοι πρὸς τὴν ἀκμὴν ὑπεξίστατο, καὶ ὄντως μὲν ἦν ὁ χαλκὸς στεγανός, ὑπὸ δὲ τῆς 15τέχνης μαλαττόμενος εἰς σάρκα ἀπεδίδρασκε τῆς χειρὸς τὴν αἴσθησιν. (3) Ἦν δὲ ἀνθηρός, ἁβρότητος γέμων, ἱμέρῳ ῥεόμενος, οἷον αὐτὸν Εὐριπίδης ἐν Βάκχαις εἰδοποιήσας ἐξέφηνε, κισσὸς δ᾿ αὐτὸν ἔστεφε περιθέων ἐν κύκλῳ—ὡς 20κισσὸς ἦν ὁ χαλκὸς εἰς κλῶνας καμπτόμενος καὶ τῶν βοστρύχων τοὺς ἑλικτῆρας ἐκ μετώπου κεχυμένους ἀναστέλλων. γέλωτος δὲ ἔμπλεως, ὃ δὴ καὶ παντὸς ἦν ἐπέκεινα θαύματος, ἡδονῆς ἀφιέναι τὴν ὕλην τεκμήρια καὶ τὴν παθῶν 25δήλωσιν ὑποκρίνεσθαι τὸν χαλκόν. (4) Νεβρὶς δὲ αὐτὸν ἔσκεπεν οὐχ οἵαν εἴωθεν ὁ Διόνυσος

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8. On the Statue of Dionysus

wrought works of art that were altogether alive. There was a grove, and in it stood Dionysus1 in the form of a young man, so delicate that the bronze was transformed into flesh, with a body so supple and relaxed that it seemed to consist of some different material instead of bronze: for though it was really bronze, it nevertheless blushed, and though it had no part in life, it sought to show the appearance of life and would yield to the very finger-tip if you touched it, for though it was really compact bronze, it was so softened into flesh by art that it shrank from the contact of the hand. It had the bloom of youth, it was full of daintiness, it melted with desire, as indeed Euripides represented FIG. 36. him when he fashioned his image in the Bacchae.2 A wreath of ivy encircled the head—since the bronze was in truth ivy, bent as it was into sprays and holding up the curly locks which fell in profusion from his forehead. And it was full of laughter, nay, it wholly passed the bounds of wonder in that the material gave out evidence of joy and the bronze feigned to represent the emotions. A fawn-skin clothed the statue, not such as Dionysus was accustomed to wear, but the


Statue of Dionysus in the Louvre

  • 1On statues of Dionysus by Praxiteles, cf. Furtwängler, Meisterwerke d. griech. Plastik, p. 586, Eng. trans. p. 337. Two Praxitelian types are discussed: (a) Represented by the “Bacchus de Versailles” in the Loure, Fig. 36 (Fröhner, Notice, 218), the figure of a delicate youth wearing a fawn-skin fastened on the left shoulder and a Bacchic mitra in his hair which falls in curls to his shoulders, and holding his right hand over his head. (b) The Dionysus in Madrid, Fig. 37 (Clarac, Pl. 690 B, No. 1598 A), a nude figure leaning his left arm on a bearded herm of Dionysus.
  • 2Cf. Eur. Bacch. 233 f.: “Men say a stranger to the land hath come. . . . With essenced hair in golden tresses tossed, Wine-flushed, Love’s witching graces in his eyes.” Trans. Way.
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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.callistratus-descriptions_8_statue_dionysus.1931