aleator classicus

Reading at Random in Classical Literature

Aelian, Varia Historia 10.10

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To start us off, here is a passage from Aelian, one of the ancient world’s greatest Random Readers!

ὅτε ὑπήρχετο ἡ γραφικὴ τέχνη, καὶ ἦν τρόπον τινὰ ἐν γάλαξι καὶ σπαργάνοις, οὕτως ἄρα ἀτέχνως εἴκαζον τὰ ζῷα ὥστε ἐπιγράφειν αὐτοῖς τοὺς γραφέας· “τοῦτο βοῦς. ἐκεῖνο ἵππος. ἐκεῖνο δένδρον.”

When the art of painting was just beginning, and it was, in a manner of speaking, unweaned and in its baby-clothes, animals were so unskilfully represented that the painters would write inscriptions on them: “This is an ox. That is a horse. That is a tree.”

Pliny the Elder says something similar about the earliest artists at Natural History 35.5:

inventam liniarem a Philocle Aegyptio vel Cleanthe Corinthio primi exercuere Aridices Corinthius et Telephanes Sicyonius, sine ullo etiamnum hi colore, iam tamen spargentes linias intus. ideo et quos pinxere adscribere institutum.

The first to practise line-drawing (which was invented by Philocles the Egyptian, or by Cleanthes the Corinthian) were Aridices the Corinthian and Telephanes the Sicyonian; without yet using any colours, these men nonetheless shaded the inside of the outline with lines. Therefore it was also their custom to put the name of the people they painted.

Written by aleatorclassicus

June 27, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Aelian, Pliny the Elder

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