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On this page: Polygonus – Polyhymnia – Polyidus


Taking, then, these facts in connection with the absence of any mention of Polygnotus's having been engaged on the great works of Pericles and Pheidias (except the Propylaea, at a later period), it may fairly be supposed that, after the death of his patron, Cimon, he was glad to accept the in­vitation, which the fame of his works at Athens caused him to receive, to unite with other Athenian artists in the decoration of the temple at Delphi. The people who gave him the commission were the Cnidians. It was customary for the different Greek cities to show their piety and patriotism, not only by enriching the temple at Delphi with valuable gifts, but by embellishing its precincts with edifices, chiefly treasuries to contain their gifts. Among the rest, the Cnidians had built at Delphi both a treasury, and one of those enclosed courts, or halls, which were called Aeo-%at (places for conversation), which existed in considerable numbers in various Greek cities, and which were especially attached to the temples of Apollo. The most famous of all of them was this Lesche of the Cnidians at Delphi, which seems to have been a quadrangular or oblong court or peristyle, surrounded by colonnades, very much like our cloisters. It was the walls of the two principal colonnades of this building (those on the right and left of a person entering) that Poly-gnotus was employed by the Cnidians to paint : and it is very interesting to observe the parallel between the most renowned works of the early stages of the art in ancient Greece and modern Italy, — the paintings of Polygnotus in the Lesche at Delphi, and those ascribed to Andrea Orcagna, in the Campo Santo at Pisa.

Polygnotus took his subjects from the whole cycle of the epic poetry which described the wars of Troy, and the return of the Greek chieftains. There were two paintings, or rather series of paint­ings ; the one upon the wall on the right hand ; the other opposite to this, upon the wall on the left hand. The former represented, according to Pau-sanias (x. 25. § 2), the taking of Troy, and the Grecian fleet loosing from the shores of Ilium to return home ; the latter, the descent of Ulysses into the lower world, which subject seems to have been treated with especial reference to the mys­teries. In both pictures the figures seem to have been arranged in successive groups, and the groups, again, in two or more lines above each other, with­out any attempt at perspective, and with names affixed to the several figures. To the picture on the right hand was affixed the following epigram, which was ascribed to Simonides : —

F/oaiJ/e TloXvyvuroSi ©dcrios yevos, ' Tios, TrepQo/j.GV'Yiv 'lAiou a/cpoiroAu/.

Pausanias devotes seven chapters to the description of these paintings (x. 25 — 31) ; from which, how­ever, we gain little more than a catalogue of names. The numerous and difficult questions which arise, respecting the succession and grouping of the figures, the manner in which each of them was represented, the aesthetical and symbolical significations of the pictures, and so forth, have furnished a wide field of discussion for artists and archaeologists. The most important works upon the subject are the fol­lowing : — Diderot, Correspond, vol. iii. pp. 270, f. ed. 1831 ; Riepenhausen, F. et J., Peintures de Polygnote a Delphes., dessinees et gravies d'apres la Descr. de Pausanias, 1826, 1829, comp. Gutting. Gd. Anzeig. 1827, p. 1309 ; Gothe, Werke, vol.



xliv. pp. 97, f., old ed., vol. xxxi. p. 118, ed. 1840 ; Bottiger, pp. 296, f. ; Otto Jahn, Die Gem'dJdde des Polygnotos in der Lesche zu Delphi, Kiel, 1841; and, concerning the general subject of the Greek representations of the lower world, on ancient vases, compared with the description of Polygnotus's second picture, see Gerhard's Arch'dologische Zei-iung, 1843,1844, Nos.xi.—xv. and Plates 11—15.

7. His paintings in the chamber adjoining to the Propylaea of the Acropolis were probably the latest of his great works. The subjects were all from Homer and the epic cycle (Paus. i. 22 ; Bottiger, pp. 290, 291).

8. The panel-picture mentioned by Pliny as being at Rome in his time, shows that Polygnotus sometimes painted single figures, but Pliny's de­ scription of the work is perfectly unintelligible, " in qua, dubitatur ascendentem cum clypeo pinoc- erit, an descendentem" (Plin. H. N. xxxv. 9. s. 35.) [P. S.]

POLYGONUS (Uo\vyovos}9 a son of Proteus, a grandson of Poseidon and brother of Telegonus. The two brothers were killed by Heracles at To- rone, when they challenged him to a contest in wrestling. (Apollod. ii. 5. § 9.) [L. S.]

POLYHYMNIA. [polymnia.]

POLYIDUS (UoXtiSos). 1. A son of Coeranus, a grandson of Abas and a great-grandson of Me-lampus. He was, like his ancestor, a celebrated soothsayer at Corinth, and is described as the father of Euchenor, Astycrateia, and Manto. (Pind. OL xiii. 104 ; Horn. II. xiii. 663, &c. ; Paus. i. 43. §5; Apollod. iii. 3. § 1.) When Alcathous had murdered his own son Callipolis at Megara, he was purified by Poly'idus, who erected at Me­gara a sanctuary to Dionysus, and a statue of the god, which was covered all over except the face. (Paus., Apollod. IL cc.; Hygin. Fab. 136.)

2. A son of the Trojan Eurydamas, and a brother of Abas, was slain by Diomedes. (Horn. //. v. 148.) [L. S.]

POLYIDUS (noAuei&os, IIoAui'Sos, IIoAwSas, IIoAueufys, all these forms occur, but the most usual is rioAui'Sos), a dithyrambic poet of the most flourishing period of the later Athenian dithyramb, and also skilful as a painter, was contemporary with Philoxenus, Timotheus, and Telestes, about 01. 95, b. c. 400. (Diod. xiv. 46.) The no­tices of him are very scanty ; but he seems to have been esteemed almost as highly as Timo­theus, whom indeed one of his pupils, Philotas, once conquered. It is related that, as Poly'idus was boasting of this victory, Stratonicus, the musi­cian, rebuked him by saying, " I wonder you do not understand that you make ;J/rj<|)(o7xaTa, but Timotheus yo^ovs," an untranslateable witticism, intimating that Timotheus had been conquered by the voice of the people, and not by the merit of his opponent. (Ath. viii^p. 532, b.) It seems from a passage of Plutarch (De Mm. 21, p. 1138, b.), that Poly'idus went beyond Timotheus in those in­tricate variations, for the introduction of which the musicians of this period are so frequently attacked. A remarkable testimony to his popularity through­out Greece is still extant in the form of a decree of the Cnossians, commending Menecles of Teos for having played on the harp at Cnossus " after the manner of Timotheus and Poly'idus and the an­cient Cretan poets, as becomes an accomplished man." (Bb'ckh, Corp. Inscr. Graec. vol. ii. p. 641, No. 3053.)

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