CHAPTER II
ANCIENT CRITICS ON ART

I PROPOSE next to inquire what account of art is given by the great Greek writers themselves. They have left us various statements on the subject, and although compared with the modern intellect that of the Greeks was uncritical, yet it cannot be indifferent to us to know what such masters of thought as Plato and Aristotle and their followers thought of the sculptors and painters who in their time were filling the temples and stoas of Greece with works of supreme excellence. Of course the most important ancient work for our purpose is the Poetics of Aristotle1; and speaking generally, with the view taken by Aristotle of the nature of fine art accords that set forth in the present work.

It is natural that in the active and stirring ethical life of Socrates there was not very much time for thought about art. But Socrates in his youth had worked as a sculptor with his father, Sophroniscus, and his strong and clear intelligence pierced the surface in this, as in other matters. We have in the Memorabilia2 an account of two visits made by Socrates to the painter Parrhasius and to the sculptor Cliton; and some of his observations on these occasions are well worthy of considera-

____________________
1
Professor Butcher volume, Aristotle's Theory of Poetry and Fine Art, is indispensable.
2
III., ch. 10.

-17-

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