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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
 

F. B. Tarbell, A History of Ancient Greek Art

The Great Age of Greek Sculpture. Second Period 400-323 B.C.

Scopas of Paros

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The first great name to meet us is that of Scopas of Paros. His artistic career seems to have begun early in the fourth century, for he was the architect of a temple of Athena at Tegea in Arcadia which was built to replace one destroyed by fire in 395-4. He as active as late as the middle of the century, being one of four sculptors engaged on the reliefs of the Mausoleum or funeral monument of Maussollus, satrap of Caria, who died in 351-0, or perhaps two years earlier. That is about all we know of his life, for it is hardly more than a conjecture that he took up his abode in Athens for a term of years. The works of his hands were widely distributed in Greece proper and on the coast of Asia Minor.

Until lately nothing very definite was known of the style of Scopas. While numerous statues by him, all representing divinities or other imaginary beings, are mentioned in our literary sources, only one of these is described in such a way as to give any notion of its artistic character. This was a Maenad, or female attendant of the god Bacchus, who was represented in a frenzy of religious excitement. The theme suggests a strong tendency on the part of Scopas toward emotional expression, but this inference does not carry us very far.

The study of Scopas has entered upon a new stage since some fragments of sculpture belonging to the Temple of Athena at Tegea have become known. The presumption is that, as Scopas was the architect of the building, he also designed, if he did not execute, the pediment-sculptures. If this be true, then we have at last authentic, though scanty, evidence of his style. The fragments thus far discovered consist of little more than two human heads and a boar's head.


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