The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.


Pliny, at the commencement of the passage which forms one of our chief authorities on the subject (H. N. xxxiii. 12. s. 55) ; where he mentions it as a remarkable fact that many had gained re­nown for chasing in silver, but none for chasing in gold: it is not however to be inferred that gold was not chased, for works in gold are frequently mentioned by other authors. From the same sec­tion, and from other authorities, we learn that works of this kind were also executed in bronze and iron (Quint. I. c.; Forcellini, s. v.). Two ex­amples of chasing in iron deserve especial notice, the one for its antiquity, the other for its beauty: the former is the iron base of the vase dedicated by Alyattes, king of Lydia, at Delphi, which was the work of Glaucus of Chios, and was chased with small figures of animals, insects, and plants (Herod, i. 25 ; Pans. x. 16. § 1 ; Ath. v. p. 210, b. c. ; Diet, of Biog. s. v. Glaucus) : the latter is the iron helmet of Alexander, the work of Theophilus, which glittered like silver (Plut. Alex. 32): Strabo, moreover, mentions the people of Cibvra, in Asia Minor, as noted for their skill in

v S 7

chasing iron (Strab. xiii. p. 631).

The objects on which the caelator exercised his art were chiefly weapons and armour — especially shields, chariots, tripods, and other votive offerings, quoits, candelabra, thrones, curule chairs, mirrors, goblets, dishes, and all kinds of gold and silver plate. Arms were often ornamented with patterns in gold (ypaTTTa eV oir\cp eyxpvffq) zlKuv (Corp. Inscr. vol. i. No. 124 ; scutum chrysographatum, Trebell. Claud. 14). Chased bronze helmets and greaves have been found at Pompeii and elsewhere. (Mus. Borb. iii. 60, iv. 13, v. 29 ; Bronsted, die Bronzen von Siris.) Chariots, especially those used in the chariot-races and triumphal process, were often made of bronze richly chased [Cun-11 us] : under the Roman emperors private carriages (carrucae) were often covered with plates of chased bronze, silver, and even gold (Plin. H. N. xxxiii. 11. s. 49 ; Suet. Claud. 16 ; Martial, iii. 72 ; Lamprid. Alex. Sev. 43 ; Vopisc. Aurel. 46 ; carruca). In candelabra, mirrors, and so forth, the remains of Etruscan art are very rich. An elaborate ac­count of ancient tripods is given in Miiller's essay, Ueber die Tripoden, in the Amalthea, vols. i. and iii. Respecting vessels of gold and silver plate, and other ornaments, among the numerous references of the ancient authors, those of Cicero (in Verr. iv.), and Pliny (H. N. xxxiii. 11, 12. s. 50—54) are among the most important and interesting.

The ornamental work with which the chaser decorated such objects consisted either of simple running patterns, chiefly in imitation of plants and flowers, or of animals, or of mythological subjects, and, for armour, of battles. To the first class belong the lances filicatae, pampinatae^ patinae hederatae^ and disci corymbiati (Cic. I. c.; Trebell. Claud. 17) : ornaments of the second class were common on the bronze and gold vases of Corinth (Ath. v. p. 199, e.) and on tripods (AmaWi. vol. iii. p. 29) ; and the mythological subjects, which were generally taken from Homer, were reserved for the works of the greatest masters of the art: they were generally executed in very high relief (anaglypha). In the finest works, the ornamental pattern was frequently distinct from the vessel, to which it was either fastened permanently, or so that it could be re­moved at pleasure, the vessel being of silver, and the ornaments of gold, crustae aut emblemata, (Cic.


in Verr. iv. 23 ; Juv. i. 76 ; Martial, viii. 51 ; Ovid. Met. v. 81 ; Ath. v. p. 199 ; Paull. Sent. iii. 6, 8 ; Senec. Ep. 5 ; comp. chrysendeta).

The art of ornamental metal-work was in an advanced stage of progress among the Greeks of the heroic period, as we see from numerous passages of Homer. In Italy, also, the Etruscans, as above stated, had early attained to great proficiency in it. In the time of the last dynasty of Lydian kings, a great impulse was given to the art, especially by their magnificent presents to the Delphian temple ; and belonging to this period, we have the names of Glaucus, as already mentioned, and of Theodoras of Samos, who made a great silver vessel for Croesus,, the ring of Polycrates, and a golden vessel which afterwards adorned the palace of the Persian kings. But its perfection would of course depend on that of the arts of design in general, especially of sculpture ; and thus we can readily accept the statement of Pliny that its origin, in the high artistic sense, is to be ascribed to Pheidias, and its complete develop­ment to Polycleitus. (Plin. //. N. xxxiv. 8. s. 19. § 1, primusque [Phidias] artem toreuticen aperuisse atque demonstrasse merit ojudicatur: ibid. §2, Hie (Poly-cletus).. .judicatur toreuticen sic erudisse^ ut Phidias aperuisse). There can, indeed, be no doubt that the toreutic art was an important accessory to the arts of statuary and sculpture, especially in works executed in bronze and in ivory and gold. In fact, in the latter class of works, the parts executed in gold belonged properly to the department of the caelator: and hence has arisen the error of several modern writers who have made the chryselephan­tine statues a branch of the toreutic art. The in­timate connection of this art with statuary and sculpture is further shown by the fact that several of the great artists in these departments were also renowned as silver-chasers, such as Myrori and Pasiteles. In the age of Pheidias, the most dis­tinguished name is that of Mys, who engraved the battle of the Lapithae with the Centaurs on the shield bf Pheidias's colossal bronze statue of Athena Promachus in the Acropolis, and who is said to have worked from designs drawn by the hand of Par-rhasius ; but the latter point involves a chronological difficulty. (See Diet, of Biog. s. vv. Mys, Prax­iteles.) In the period from the time of Pheidias to that of the Roman conquest of Greece, the fol­lowing names are preserved: Acragas, Boethus, and Mentor, the most distinguished of all the artists in this department; the sculptor Myron and his son Lycius ; after them, Calamis, Antipater ; and the maker of a work mentioned with especial admira­tion by Pliny, Stratonicus ; a little later, Tauriscus of Cyzicus, Ariston and Eunicus of Mytilene, and Hecataeus. The Greek kings of Syria, especially Antiochus Epiphanes, were great patrons of the art. (Ath. v. p. 293, d.) In the last age of the Ro­man Republic, the prevailing wealth and luxury, and the presence of Greek artists at Rome, com­bined to bring the art more than ever into requi­sition. Silver-chasers seem to have been regularly employed in the establishments of the great men of Rome ; and Pliny mentions, as belonging to the age of Pompey the Great, Pasiteles, Posidonius of Ephesus, Leostratides, Zopyrus, Pytheas, and lastly Teucer. After this period, the art suddenly fell into disuse, so that, in the time of Pliny, chased vessels were valued only for their age, though the chasing was so worn down by use that even the figures could not be distinguished. (H. N. xxxiii.

About | First | English Index | Classified Index | Latin Index | Greek Index



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of