VASES: ARTISTIC TRADITION
THUS far we have dealt with the spatial aspects of vasepaintings; we have next to speak of their schemes and their relations to myth or tale, reserving to the next chapter their relations to Greek literature. In their attempts, then, to embody a myth in a drawing, the vase-painters were subject to certain tendencies which belonged in a special manner to their craft, and which may fairly be regarded as principles of the grammar of vase-painting.
The Greek vase-painter in all periods works in schemes. He does not freely invent a new embodiment for a tale or a myth. He is dependent on the manner in which that tale had been represented in earlier art. He must satisfy the eye as well as the mind. But, on the other hand, though he accepts and repeats a scheme embodying artistic tradition, he does not, unless he be a mere workman and no artist, accept the scheme in a slavish way. He alters poses and details, omits figures, or introduces fresh ones; sometimes he merely improves the lines of the composition. Here, as in every field of Greek activity, we find infinite variety of detail within limits cheerfully accepted by the poet or artist. An exceptional poet or artist pushes back the limits; a conventional spirit keeps far within the bounds.
The Use of Fixed Schemes. -- In tracing back any representations of myths of the gods or of heroic legends, we often find the