Callistratus, Descriptions 9. On the Statue of Memnon

LCL 256: 408-409

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Callistratus: Descriptions

διαλλάττειν μοι δοκεῖ σώματι, ὑπὸ δὲ ψυχῆς 20τινος καὶ ὁμοίας προαιρέσεως ἀγομένη κατηυθύνετο. εἶχε γοῦν ἐγκεκραμένα καὶ τὰ λυποῦντα καὶ πάλιν ἡδονῆς αἴσθησις αὐτὸν κατελάμβανεν ὑπ᾿ ἀμφοτέρων τῶν παθῶν πληττόμενον. καὶ ἡ μὲν φύσις τὴν λίθων γένεσιν ἄφθογγον παρήγαγε 25καὶ κωφὴν καὶ μήτε ὑπὸ λύπης ἐθέλουσαν διοικεῖσθαι μήτε εἰδυῖαν ἡσθῆναι, ἀλλὰ καὶ πάσαις τύχαις ἄτρωτον, ἐκείνῳ δὲ τῷ Μέμνονος λίθῳ καὶ ἡδονὴν παρέδωκεν ἡ τέχνη καὶ πέτραν ἀνέμιξεν ἀλγεινῷ, καὶ μόνην ταύτην ἐπιστάμεθα τὴν 30τέχνην νοήματα τῷ λίθῳ καὶ φωνὴν ἐνθεῖσαν. (3) Ὁ μὲν γὰρ Δαίδαλος μέχρι μὲν κινήσεως ἐνεανιεύετο καὶ δύναμιν εἶχεν ἡ ἐκείνου τέχνη 433 K.ἐξιστάναι τὰς ὕλας καὶ εἰς χορείαν κινεῖν, ἀμήχανον δὲ ἦν καὶ παντελῶς ἄπορον καὶ φωνῆς μέτοχα πραγματεύεσθαι τὰ ποιήματα· αἱ δὲ Αἰθιόπων χεῖρες πόρους τῶν ἀμηχάνων ἐξεῦρον 5καὶ τὴν ἀφθογγίαν ἐξενίκησαν τοῦ λίθου. ἐκείνῳ τῷ Μέμνονι καὶ τὴν Ἠχὼ λόγος ἀντηχεῖν, ὁπότε φθέγγοιτο, καὶ γοερὸν μὲν στενάζοντι γοερὸν ἀντιπέμπειν μέλος, εὐπαθοῦντι δὲ ἀνταποδιδόναι τὴν ἠχὴν ἀντίμιμον. ἐκεῖνο τὸ δημιούργημα καὶ 10τῇ Ἡμέρᾳ τὰς ἀνίας ἐκοίμιζε καὶ οὐκ εἴα μαστεύειν τὸν παῖδα, ὡς ἂν ἀντιτιθείσης αὐτῷ1 τῆς Αἰθιόπων τέχνης τὸν ἐκ τῆς εἱμαρμένης ἀφανισθέντα Μέμνονα.


9. On the Statue of Memnon

to me, differed from a human being only in its body, but it was directed and guided by a kind of soul and by a will like that of man. At any rate it both had grief in its composition and again it was possessed by a feeling of pleasure according as it was affected by each emotion. Though nature had made all stones from the beginning voiceless and mute and both unwilling to be under the control of grief and also unaware of the meaning of joy, but rather immune to all the darts of chance, yet to that stone of Memnon art had imparted pleasure and had mingled the sense of pain in the rock; and this is the only work of art of which we know that has implanted in the stone perceptions and a voice. Daedalus did indeed boldly advance as far as motion, and the products of his art had power to transcend the materials of which they were made and to move in the dance; but it was impossible and absolutely out of the question for him to make statues that could speak. Yet the hands of Aethiopians discovered means to accomplish the impossible,1 and they overcame the inability of stone to speak. The story runs that Echo answered this Memnon when it spoke, uttering a mournful note in response to its mournful lament and returning a mimicking sound in response to its expressions of joy. The statue in question both lulled to rest the sorrows of Day and caused her to abandon her search for her son, as though the art of the Aethiopians were compensating her by means of the statue for the Memnon who had been snatched away from her by fate.

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.callistratus-descriptions_9_statue_memnon.1931