Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 394: 304-305


Pliny: Natural History

adeo iam colorum usus increbruerat adeoque ars perfecta erat, ut in eo proelio iconicos duces pinxisse tradatur, Atheniensium Miltiadem, Callimachum, Cynaegirum, barbarorum Datim, Artaphernen.


XXXV. Quin immo certamen etiam picturae florente eo institutum est Corinthi ac Delphis, primusque omnium certavit cum Timagora Chalcidense, superatus ab eo Pythiis, quod et ipsius Timagorae carmine vetusto apparet, chronicorum errore non dubio.

Alii quoque post hos clari fuere ante lxxxx olympiadem, sicut Polygnotus Thasius, qui primus mulieres tralucida1 veste pinxit, capita earum mitris versicoloribus operuit plurimumque picturae primus contulit, siquidem instituit os adaperire, dentes ostendere, voltum ab antiquo rigore variare. 59huius est tabula in porticu Pompei, quae ante curiam eius fuerat, in qua dubitatur ascendentem cum clupeo pinxerit an descendentem. hic Delphis aedem pinxit, hic et Athenis porticum, quae Poecile vocatur, gratuito, cum partem eius Micon mercede pingeret. vel maior huic auctoritas, siquidem Amphictyones, quod est publicum Graeciae concilium,



established had the employment of colour now become and such perfection of art had been attained that he is said to have introduced actuala portraits of the generals who commanded in that battle, Miltiades, Callimachus and Cynaegirus on the Athenian side and Datis and Artaphernes on that of the barbarians.

XXXV. Nay more, during the time that Panaenus flourished competitions in painting were actually instituted at Corinth and at Delphi, and on the first occasion of all Panaenus competed against Timagoras of Chalcis, being defeated by him, at the Pythian Games, a fact clearly shown by an ancient poem of Timagoras himself, the chronicles undoubtedly being in error.

After those and before the 90th Olympiad there420–417 b.c. were other celebrated painters also, such as Polygnotus of Thasos who first represented womenPolygnotus and Micon. in transparent draperies and showed their heads covered with a parti-coloured headdress; and he first contributed many improvements to the art of painting, as he introduced showing the mouth wide open and displaying the teeth and giving expression to the countenance in place of the primitive rigidity. There is a picture by this artist in the Portico of Pompeius which formerly hung in front of the Curia which he built, in which it is doubtful whether the figure of a man with a shield is painted as going up or as coming down. Polygnotus painted the templeb at Delphi and the colonnade at Athens called the Painted Portico, doing his work gratuitously, although a part of the work was painted by Micon who received a fee.c Indeed Polygnotus was held in higher esteem, as the Amphictyones, who are a General Council of Greece, voted him entertainment

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938