Acropolis Of Athens By E. Beulé -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 034:135 (Jul 1877)
Article: Acropolis Of Athens By E. Beulé
Author: Anonymous

Acropolis Of Athens By E. Beulé1

This is a work of Art which has recently come to our notice, although it was published twenty years ago. The two volumes are devoted to descriptions of the old walls and fortifications of. the Acropolis itself; the Propylaea and temple of Wingless Victory, the Parthenon and Erectheium. They are written with great care, in a simple and graceful style. The descriptions are accurate and graphic, and although often elaborate in their details, neither tedious nor obscure. The author’s candor and courtesy of spirit, when dealing with the opinions of other writers at variance with his own, are admirable.

M. Beulé portrays the buildings as they are now in their ruins, and as they were once in all their beauty and magnificence. He brings to light the exquisite skill and nicety with which the Greeks adapted architecture to sculptural ornament, and made sculpture avail itself of architectural principles. Thus, in the porch of the Caryatides, the beautiful figures, like the columns of the temple, incline slightly inward, and their limbs bend in correspondence to their position. Those on the right of the portico facing the spectator bend the right knee, and the group on the other hand bend the left. Such a posture gives an aspect of resistance to the outer side of the Caryatides. Even the arrangement of the hair is made to give an additional support to the head. In order that the entablature may not press too heavily on the maidens which sustain it, there is no frieze, and the cornice rests upon the architrave.

For a long time the existence of sculptured figures on the frieze of the northern portico was not known. It was inferred from holes in the black stone for attaching bass-reliefs; and also from an inscription in the British Museum, — which is the Report of the Commissioners appointed by the Athenians long ago to give an account of the state of the Erectheium, — the expenditures, etc. The Commissioners say: “Around the temple is a frieze in Eleusinian marble. It has figures attached in bass-relief.” Recent excavations near the Erectheium have discovered fragments of small figures corresponding to the height of the frieze; about the same time the accounts for the completion of the edifice were also discovered.

“We have bought,’’ say the directors of the works, “two talents of lead for fastening the small figures of the frieze at Sostratus, of the burgh of Melitus, 10 drachmas.” They also designate eleven or twelve pieces, name the artists which were charged with these, and indicate the price which was paid for them. These curious details deserve to be transcribed entire.


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