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Author(s) : Corso Antonio (11/4/2002)

For citation: Corso Antonio, "Praxiteles", 2002,
Encyclopaedia of the Hellenic World, Asia Minor
URL: <http://www.ehw.gr/l.aspx?id=10583>

Praxiteles (7/27/2006 v.1) Πραξιτέλης (7/27/2006 v.1) 



1. On Praxiteles’ participation to the enterprise of the Mausoleion of Halikarnassos:

Satyrus and Pytheus, ‘De Mausoleo’, in Vitruvius, De architectura 7. praefatio 12-13, Granger, F.(ed.), Virtuvius. On Architecture (London-Cambridge Mass. 1962) p. 72-74.

“Satyrus and Pythis on the Mausoleum. And on these last, good fortune conferred the greatest and highest boom. For their works are adjudged to have a merit which is famous throughout the ages and of unfading freshness and they employed distinguished artists on their undertakings. For on the several elevations, different rival craftsmen took their share in decorations wherein they competed: Leochares, Bryaxis, Scopas, Praxiteles, and some add Timotheus. The outstanding excellence of their work caused the fame of the Mausoleum to be included in the seven wonders of the world.”

2. On the presence of works of Praxiteles in the altar of the sanctuary of Artemis at Ephesos:

Artemidorus of Ephesos, in Strabo, Geographica 14.1.22-23, Jones, H.L.(ed.), The Geography of Strabo 6 (London 1929) p. 226-229.

“Artemidoros says: Timaeus of Tauromenium, being ignorant of these decrees and being anyway an envious and slanderous fellow (for which reason he was also called Epitimaeus), says that they exacted means for the restoration of the temple from the treasures deposited in their care by the Persians; but there were no treasures on deposit in their care at that time, and, even if there had been, they would have been burned along with the temple; and after the fire, when the roof was destroyed, who could have wished to keep deposits of treasure lying in a sacred enclosure that was open to the sky? Now Alexander, Artemidorus adds, promised the Ephesians to pay all expenses, both past and future, on condition that he should have the credit therefor on the inscription, but they were unwilling, just as they would have been far more unwilling to acquire glory by sacrilege and a spoliation of the temple. And Artemidorus praises the Ephesian who said to the king that it was inappropriate for a god to dedicate offerings to gods.

”After the completion of the temple, which, he says, was the work of Cheirocrates (the same man who built Alexandreia and the same man who proposed to Alexander to fashion Mt. Athos into his likeness, representing him as pouring a libation from a kind of ewer into a broad bowl, and to make two cities, on the right of the mountain and the other on the left, and a river flowing from one to the other) – after the completion of the temple, he says, the great number of dedications in general were secured by means of the high honour they paid their artists, but the whole of the altar was filled, one might say, with the works of Praxiteles.”

3. On Praxiteles’ bronze statues, which include the lizard-slayer Apollo:

Pliny, Historia Naturalis 34.69-70, Rackham, H., (ed.), Pliny. Natural History 9 (London - Cambridge Mass. 1952) p. 178-181.

“Praxiteles although more successful and therefore more celebrated in marble, nevertheless also made some very beautiful works in bronze: the Rape of Persephone, also The Girl Spinning, and a Father Liber or Dionysus, with a figure of Drunkenness and also the famous Satyr, known by the Greek title Periboetos meaning ‘Celebrated’, and the statues that used to be in front of the Temple of Happiness, and the Aphrodite, which was destroyed by fire when the temple of that goddess was burnt down in the reign of Claudius, and which rivaled the famous Aphrodite, in marble, that is known all over the world; also A Woman Bestowing a Wreath, A Woman Putting a Bracelet on her Arm, Autumn, Harmodius and Aristogeiton who slew the tyrant – the last piece carried off by Xerxes King of the Persians but restored to the Athenians by Alexander the Great after his conquest of Persia. Praxiteles also made a youthful Apollo called in Greek the Lizard-Slayer because he is waiting with an arrow for a lizard creeping towards him. Also two of his statues expressing opposite emotions are admired, his Matron Weeping and his Merry Courtesan. The latter is believed to have been Phryne and connoisseurs detect in the figure the artist’s love of her and the reward promised him by the expression of the courtesan’s face.”

4. On Praxiteles’ marble statues, which include the Eros of Parion:

Pliny, Historia Naturalis 36.20-24, Rackham, H., (ed.) Pliny. Natural History 10 (London – Cambridge Mass. 1952) p. 14-21.

“Praxiteles is an artist whose date I have mentioned among these of the makers of bronze statues, but in the fame of his work in marble he surpassed even himself. There are works by him at Athens in the Cerameicus; and yet superior to anything not merely by Praxiteles, but in the whole world, is the Venus, which many people have sailed to Cnidus to see. He had made two figures, which he put up for sale together, One of them was draped and for this reason was preferred by the people of Cos, who had an option for sale, although he offered it at the same price as the other. This they considered to be the only decent and dignified course of action. The statue which they refused was purchased by the people of Cnidus and achieved an immeasurably greater reputation. Later King Nikomedes was anxious to buy it from them, promising so to discharge all the state’s vast debts. The Cnidians, however, preferred to suffer anything but this, and rightly so; for with the statue Praxiteles made Cnidus a famous city. The shrine in which it stands is entirely open so as to allow the image of the goddess to be viewed from every side, and it is believed to have been made in this way with the blessing of the goddess herself. The statue is equally admirable from every angle. There is a story that a man once fell in love with it and hiding by night embraced it, and that a stain betrays this lustful act. In Cnidus there are also other marble figures by notable artists, a Father Liber by Bryaxis, a Father Liber and a Minerva by Scopas; but there is no greater proof of the excellence of Praxiteles’ Venus than the fact that amidst these works it alone receives mention. To Praxiteles belong also a Cupid, with which Cicero taunted Verres, ‘the famous Cupid for the shake of which men visited Thespiae’, and which now stands in Octavia’s Rooms. To him belongs, moreover, another Cupid, which is naked, at Parium, the colony on the Sea of Marmara, a work that matches the Venus of Cnidus in its renown, as well as in the outrageous treatment which is suffered. For Alcetas, a man from Rhodes fell in love with it and left upon it a similar mark of his passion. At Rome the works of Praxiteles are a Flora, a Triptolemus and a Ceres in the Gardens of Servilius, images of Success and Good Fortune on the Capitol, and likewise the Maenads, the so-called Thyiads and Caryatids and the Sileni in the Collection of Asinius Pollio, as well as an Apollo and a Neptune. The son of Praxiteles, Cephisodotus, inherited also his skill.”

5. On a miniature copy of Praxiteles’ lizard-slayer Apollo:

Martial, Epigrammata 14.172, Shackleton Bailey, D.R. (ed.), Martial. Epigrams 3 (London-Cambridge Mass. 1993) p. 292-293.

“Lizard slayer in Corinthian bronze
Spare the lizard, insidious boy, as she creeps toward
you; she wants to die by your fingers.”

6. Probably on Praxiteles’ Eros of Parion:

Palladas, Anthologia Graeca 16.207, Paton, W.R., (ed.), The Greek Anthology 5 (London-Cambridge Mass. 1953) p 280-281.

“On a statue of Love
Love is unarmed; therefore he smiles and is gentle,
For he has not his bow and fiery arrows. And it is
not without reason that he holds in his hands a
dolphin and a flower, for in one he holds the earth,
in the other the sea.”

7. On Praxiteles’ Aphrodite for Alexandria on the Latmos of Karia:

Stephanus Byzantinus, Ethnica, s.v. Alexandreia, Meineke, A., (ed.), Stephan von Byzanz. Ethnica (Berlin 1849) p. 70-71.

Ἀλεξάνδρειαι πόλεις ὀκτωκαίδεκα.
.(…). δεχάτη πρὸς τὸ Λάτμῳ τῆς Καρίας, ἐν ᾗ Ἁδώνιον
ἦν ἔχον Πραξιτέλους Ἀφροδίτην.

8. The iconography of Eros described here is that of Praxiteles’ statue of this god at Parion:

Tzetzes, Chiliades 5. Historia 11.502-511, Leone, P.A.M., (ed.), Joannis Tzetzae historiae (Naples 1968) p. 186-187.

“Ὡραῖον νέον μείρακα τὸν Ἔρωτα ζωγράφοι
τοξότην ζωγραφοῦσί τε συνάμα καὶ πυρφόρον,
καὶ πτερωτόν, κατέχοντα δελφῖνά τε καὶ πόαν.
Τῇ μὲν γραφῇ τοῦ πτερωτού, τῆς πόας, τοῦ δελφῖνος,
κρατεῖν τοῦτον σημαίνοντες ἀέρος, γῆς, θαλάσης.
Τοξότην καὶ πυρφόρον δὲ σὺν τούτοις ζωγραφοῦσιν,
ὡς πλήττοντα καὶ φλέγοντα καρδίας τῶν ἐρώντων.
Νέον δεν τοῦτον γράφουσι, συνάμα καὶ ὡραῖον,
ὡς τοῦ ἐράσθαι καὶ ἐρὰν πρεπώδους νέα φύσει,
πρεπωδεστέρου μᾶλλον δὲ τῇ νέᾳ καὶ ὡραίᾳ."

9. A catalogue of marvels which includes two statues by Praxiteles set up in centers of Asia Minor: the Aphrodite of Knidos and the Leto of Myra:

Anonymus Graecus, Codex Vaticanus Graecus 989, fol. 110, von Wilamowitz-Moellendorf, U., (ed.), Coniectanea. Index scholarum aestivarum (Goettingen 1884) p. 8.

“… ἰ ἔργα κάλλιστα καὶ θεάματα.!. ἃ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ [ὁ] ἐν Ἐφέσῳ τῆς Ἀρτέμιδος ναός, τὰ Βαβυλώνεια τείχη, [αἱ] ἐν Αἰγύπτῳ πυραμίδες, ὁ ἐν Ῥώμῃ Ἀφροδίτης καὶ [Ῥώμης ναό]ς, τὸ ἐν Ῥώμῃ ἀμφιθέατρον, ὁ ἐν Ἁλικαρνασσῷ [Μ]αὐσώλου τάφος, ἡ ἐν Ῥώμῃ Γαίου καὶ Λουκίου ναυμαχία, ὁ ἐν Κρήτῃ λαβύρινθος, ὁ ἐν Ὀλύμπιᾳ Ζεύς, ἔργον Φειδίου. [ὁ] ἐν Ἐπιδαύρῳ Ἀσκληπιός, ἔργον Φειδίου, ὁ ἐν Ῥόδῳ [κο]λοσσός, ἔργον Χάρητος, ἡ ἐν Ἄργει Ἥρᾳ, ἔργο Πολυκλείτου, [ἡ] ἐν Κνίδῳ Ἀφροδίτῃ, ἔργον Πραξιτέλους, ὁ ἐν Μιλήτῳ ναὸς [τοῦ] Ἀπόλλωνος, ὁ ἐν Ῥώμῃ ἐν τῶν κίρκῳ ὀβελίσκος κομισθεὶς ἀπ’ Αἰγύπτου, ὁ ναὸς τοῦ Διὸς ἐν Ἡλίου πόλει, ὁ ἐν .αραις τῆς Σελήνης, ὁ Ἀδριανοὺ ἐν Κυζίκω, ἀτέ[λε]στος, ὁ Διὸς ἐν Δαμασκῳ, αἱ ἐν Θηβαίδι σύριγγες, τὸ ἐν Σιδῶνι θέατρον, τὸ ἐν Ἡρακλείᾳ τῆς Θρᾴκης, [ὁ ν]ἀὸς τοῦ Σαρπηδόνος ἐν Ἀλεξανδρείᾳ, ὁ Ἀσκληπιοῦ ἐν Περγάμῳ, ὁ ξυστὸς ἐν Σάρδει, ἡ ἡρακλεία κρηπὶς ἐν Σάρδει, [ἔχου]σα ἐν βάθει βαθμοὺς σν, ὁ ἐν Ἐφέσῳ λιμὴν χειρο[ποιῇ]τος ὅλος, ὁ ἐν Νικομηδείᾳ Ἀντωνίνος, ὁ ἐν Βηρυτῷ [Ζεύς], ἔργον Φειδίου χρυσελέφαντα ἀτέλεστος, ἡ ἐν Μύροις τῆς [Λυκίας] Λητώ, ὁλοσμαράγδινος πηχυαία καθεζομένη ἐπὶ θρόνου ἐκ τοῦ αὐτοῦ λίθου, ἔργον Πραξιτέλους, ἀτέλεστος τὰ περὶ τοὺς πόδας καὶ τὰ ὄπισθεν καὶ τὰ περὶ τὸν θρόνον.»


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