FULLY to illustrate the relations between poem and picture we ought to choose some subject which is a common theme of both, and trace it from period to period in each. Unfortunately no thoroughly satisfactory subject can be found. The favourite themes of art are taken from the cyclic poets, not from the Iliad or Odyssey, and not from the fortunes of the houses of Oedipus and Atreus, which furnish a subject to so many tragedies. Under these circumstances the best thing to do is to select a subject which is well illustrated in all periods of art, even if it be but slightly treated in literature, or if the Greek poems of which it was the theme have been lost.
I propose to take one of the most favourite subjects with vase-painters of all periods, the judgment of Paris. The thing which will most clearly appear in our investigation is the futility of taking vase-pictures one by one and trying to explain their features by direct reference to myth or to poem. This is a parallel error to that of which I spoke when discussing sculpture, -- the direct comparison of a statue with nature in disregard of the influence of style and school. We shall also find that the whole series of representations of the myth selected is an orderly development, following psychological law, and reflecting in a minute mirror the course of Greek literary and artistic growth and decline.