Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/301

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

Greek Votive Offerings. 275

B.C. dedications of portraits sporadically occur {e.g. statues of Epaminondas, p. 269, of Lysimachus, p. 229 n. 10), and that " by the end of the fourth century we have honorific statues dedicated with all formality for trivial reasons" (P- 373)- Personally, I incline to think that the virtual absence of portrait-dedications during the sixth century, their comparative rarity during the fifth, and their increas- ing frequency during the fourth, point the way to a very simple explanation. The art of portraiture demands a certain mastery over material difficulties that the early Greek sculptors and painters had not attained. Portraiture, as the handbooks tell us {e.g. Prof. E. Gardner, Gk. Sculpt. p. 450), only "came in" about the fourth century. At an earlier date realistic portraits were impossible, and at all times an ordinary worshipper would not have been able to afford the luxury of seeing his own features accurately reproduced. It was far more easy and economical to pro- cure a male or female figure with some distinguishing attribute, or a simple group, which would make the character of the dedicator sufficiently clear to the divine intelligence. This conjecture enables us to reconcile the a priori proba- bility of self-devotion with the authoritative assertion of Dr. Rouse that portraits were rarely dedicated before the Hellenistic age.

And here a suspicion crosses our mind that the distinc- tion constantly maintained in this book between votive and honorific memorials is misleading. Dr. Rouse is sometimes at a loss to decide whether particular offerings belong to the one class or the other. Thus he says (p. 167) : "When we come to the statues of athletes, we are met by a very puzzling question. The athlete, we are told, was allowed to dedicate a statue of himself for each victory ; the girl runners at the Heraea, pictures of themselves painted (Paus. 5. ID. 3). The question is, whether these were really votive offerings, or nothing but an honour done to the winner." Dr. Rouse concludes " that some athlete

T 2