History of Mediaeval Art

History of Mediaeval Art

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History of Mediaeval Art

History of Mediaeval Art

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Excerpt

As it has been set forth in the preceding volume, the art of antiquity was divided into groups, corresponding to the various nationalities: so separated that a decided dependence of one upon the other was seldom brought about, and even more rarely maintained. The ethnographical character, language, religion, and culture of the Mesopotamians differed entirely from those of the Egyptians, and both were altogether opposed to those of the Hellenes. The architecture of each of the groups thus formed was dissimilar in general arrangement, as well as in details; their sculpture and painting were as unlike in ideals and subjects as in types.

The fundamental differences between these groups were much more marked than were the differences which resulted in any one of them through the most long-continued development. Recent discoveries in Chaldea have shown that the art of the Upper Tigris, during the eighth century B. C., was directly founded upon that which had been practised more than three thousand years before in Lower Mesopotamia. Still more uniform was the culture and art of the Egyptians,--from the age of the Pyramids, or at least from that of Rameses, to the invasion of Egypt by the Persians. Even the Greeks,--a race infinitely more capable of development, --retained the same principles and forms in their architecture from the archaic temples of Sicily and Ionia to the buildings of the Alexandrian epoch, and in their sculpture preserved the elements of the same national art from the groups of Ægina to the frieze of Pergamon,--exhibiting in both branches a character altogether distinct from that of the Oriental nations. Indeed, the essential characteristics of Hellenic art remained unaltered even after Greece had lost her political independence. For as the Ptolemies, unable to Hellenize Egypt, themselves became Egyptian, and as the Seleucidæ, at least on the Euphrates, furthered the civilization of Nebuchad-

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