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Philippe-Ernest Legrand. Bulletin of Hellenic Correspondence 1892 p. 165-

Statue of Hermes found at Damala

This statue was found in the month of June 1890 in the ruined chapel of Haghia Sotira or Haghia Metamorphosis near the village of Damala. Damala is the presumed location of the ancient city of Troizen.  I have written about this statue Bulletin of Hellenic Correspondence.

By now I had already recorded several pieces, and now I was collecting other pieces.  We removed the statue from the bare walls of the remains of a large Byzantine church. It was found in a position at the partition wall separating the narthex and the nave. It was in several pieces. The head had been separated from the throne piece, and the legs were broken above the knee. The figure of a ram which seemed to be part of this statue was found a few metres away. [Note that a narthex is an architectural element typical of early Christian and Byzantine basilicas or churches consisting of the entrance or lobby area, located at the end of the nave, at the far end from the church’s main altar. Traditionally the narthex was a part of the church building, but was not considered part of the church proper. It is either an indoor area separated from the nave by a screen or rail, or an external structure such as a porch. By extension, it can also denote a covered porch or entrance to a building. Wikipedia]

All these fragments were quickly and carefully gathered by Mr Kavvadias and transported to Athens.  The statue, now quite well preserved, is today in the Central Museum in Athens.  Missing from the face is the extremity of the nose.  The chest is intact, but the arms and legs are broken.  I think it can be easily restored to its former structure.

This statue is undoubtedly one of Hermes. I have confirmed that the statue shows his attributes including especially his pet ram.

The Hermes of Troizen may have no written history, but, in truth, Pausanias mentions a statue of Hermes  in Troizen (1).  However, the texts tell us nothing about the style and type of person Hermes was. Troizenian currencies do not help with our research because the images on the coins never seem to show Hermes.  On the other hand, the issue of the exact location of the statue is not available. All I can refer to is what Pausanias, in his Description of Greece 2. 31. 10 said   “Here [in Troizen, Argolis] there is also a Hermes called Polygios. Against this image, they say, Herakles leaned his club.” Pausanias gives no description of an exact location of such a statue.  When we discovered the statue, it was certainly out of its original position. We also have the issue that the ancient topography of Troizen remains more uncertain.

(1)       Pausan. II, 31.

 

The very name of  is not clear: it seems to be an equivalent of the epithet.  If Eschylus applies to warriors, it would mean very robust. Herakles was involved in the legend of Hermes Polygios.  Pausanias (2) tells us that when Herakles leaned his club against the statue of this god (Hermes Polygios), the club had taken root. The legend goes that it was shown to unsuspecting travellers as if it were the branch of an olive tree coming out of the earth.

(2) Other etymologists have derived the word to   which would make it equivalent to. I believe it should have mentioned, such names as Anthes and Antheia and the lush vegetation of Troizen. The epithet therefore does not help us to identify anything more precise about this Hermes.

Hermes Polygios was known publicly as a character of strength.  However what we have up till now is clearly far too vague to give any more positive identification.

I need to stick to the study of the same statue, to define the style, determine the date, and find its origins. What strikes me first is the resemblance it has with that of Doryphoros.

[To provide further explanation of Legrand’s reference to Doryphoros, on can refer to Wikipedia provides the following: The Doryphoros (Greek Δορυφόρος, “Spear-Bearer”; Latinized as Doryphorus) is one of the best known Greek sculptures of the classical era in Western Art and an early example of Greek classical contrapposto. The lost bronze original would have been made at approximately 450-400 BCE. The Greek sculptor Polykleitos designed a work, perhaps this one, as an example of the “canon” or “rule”, showing the perfectly harmonious and balanced proportions of the human body in the sculpted form. A solid-built athlete with muscular features carries a spear balanced on his left shoulder. In the surviving Roman marble copies, a marble tree stump is added to support the weight of the marble. A characteristic of Polykleitos’ Doryphoros is the classical contrapposto in the pelvis; the figure’s stance is such that one leg seems to be in movement while he is standing on the other.

 Sometime in the 2nd century AD, Galen wrote about the Doryphoros as the perfect visual expression of the Greeks’ search for harmony and beauty, which is rendered in the perfectly proportioned sculpted male nude:

 ‘Chrysippos holds beauty to consist not in the commensurability or “symmetria” [i.e. proportions] of the constituent elements [of the body], but in the commensurability of the parts, such as that of finger to finger, and of all the fingers to the palm and wrist, and of those to the forearm, and of the forearm to the upper arm, and in fact, of everything to everything else, just as it is written in the Canon of Polykleitos. For having taught us in that work all the proportions of the body, Polykleitos supported his treatise with a work: he made a statue according to the tenets of his treatise, and called the statue, like the work, the ‘Canon.’]

The Doryphoros of Polykleitos in the Naples National Archaeological Museum

So as for the statue of Doryphoros, the Hermes of Troizen is represented in a soft way with the left leg placed almost off the ground. In both statues body weight is on the right leg and the right shoulder is lower than the left.  The hips appear to be moving. The inclination of the head is to the right side. There is also the same placement of the arm along the right side of the body, while the left arm bends forward.

In the past few years, Mr Michaelis listed (1) the monuments and the reason they were copied in almost exactly the same way Doryphoros was copied: for example, the statues of Pan, Bacchus, Mercury, Satyrs. But in most only the pose was copied. In other ways, the approach involving proportions, forms, technique, was quite foreign to the style of Polykleitos.  The Bacchus of Dresden (2), for example, is incomparably more slender than the Doryphoros.  Its form shows a mixture of unclear virile and feminine characteristics.  The contours of the body are softer and displaying a kind of sensitivity, but the body overall displays strong bones and muscles. The body has a flexible effeminate appearance, with the skin having a chilled look.  Thus the transformation of Doryphoros is scarcely less complete than that of Diadymene, for example, the Venus Equilin (3).

  • Michaelis, Statua di Bacco scoperia nella villa Adriana from the Annali di Roma [Statue of Bacchus discovered in Hadrian’s Villa- from the Annals of Rome], 1883, p. 139, note 1.
  • Clarac, pl 688, number 1616.
  • Lenormant, Gazette archeologique [Archaeological Gazette], III.

 

In the British Museum there is a drawing of small bronze statue by Clarac, pl. 666, number 1515. If we limit our comparison of the Hermes statue, to that of Doryphoros, we can see the differences are almost as vast. The pose is identical, but the shape is softened at the hips; the thigh contour is rounded; the stretch of the calves is less prominent; the arm appears to have a less firm joining to the hands, and the feet are less delicate.  The whole image shows a kind of heavy body, of some age. From a physiognomical analysis undertaken by Braun of the face of Doryphoros, we learn that this god has none of the characteristics of an athlete. [physiognomy is the study of judging human character or a person’s personality from facial features]

Instead, the resemblance of the Hermes of Troizen with that of Doryphoros does not stop at the pose; it is similar in anatomy and form.

The body is formed in large masses sharply divided by flatter areas whose intersections are often sudden. The base of the neck and shoulders, the neck and chin, the groin, and thighs, are almost of a geometric shape.  The same applies to the face as does the connection of the cheeks and forehead. Transitions are lacking, and in more than one place it seems we could identify certain traits of a given anatomical group, such as the abdomen or the chest. It looks like an artist who worked in bronze rather than marble, because of the way the artist used primitive toreuticiens (metallurgical working styles).  It looks as if the various parts were formed separately and then adjusted as necessary even if the fit was not a good one.

In addition, with the Hermes and the Doryphoros, the proportions are a largely the same, and the body is treated in a same spirit. The chest is broad and breasts removed, and the strong frame exposes the muscles.  The softer parts of the body are generally placed fairly low; the model has a very flat stomach; the pubis is angular; the navel is hollow like a small cookie. The flesh on the body is like that of that contemporaries of Scopas and Praxiteles, rising flatly to the breast edge, but at the same time appears to have no link with the surrounding flesh. The large pectoral muscles large are flat and smooth. The statue appears lifeless- it has no wrinkles, no creases in the skins, the skin appears absent of any lifelike quality, and there are other elements that are neglected.

The relationship between the two statues is more intimate than a vague resemblance, it is a real relationship.

It goes without saying that our Hermes of Troizen, is not a work of Polykleitos’ time. We can say this because of the features of the style:

  • the accumulation of accessories;
  • a winged Petasos [A petasos or petasus (Greek: πέτασος) is a sun hat of Thessalian origin worn by the ancient Greeks, often in combination with the chlamys cape. It was usually made of wool felt, leather or straw, with a broad, floppy brim. It was worn primarily by farmers and travellers, and was considered characteristic of rural people. As a winged hat, it became the symbol of Hermes, the Greek mythological messenger god (Roman equivalent Mercury)

  Hermes wearing petasos with caduceus Wikipedia];

  • the statue is bearing a caduceus [The caduceus is the staff carried by Hermes in Greek mythology];
  • the hair is displayed in a free flowing style;
  • the drawing of the eyes is distinctive, drawn as hollow, with the iris being  circumscribed by a circle; and
  • the mouth is drawn in a round elegant way.

I am referring now to a relatively peaceful and liberated time.

My view is that again, more than anything else, the statue suffers from a carelessness of execution. For example:

  • the sides have plain and flat dimensions;
  • the knees appear to be too round;
  • the shin seems out of a normal dimension;
  • the ram is roughly trimmed; and
  • the drapery is poorly formed, with the folds falling in heavy and massive way, and those that cover the arms are etriquent and stick to the contours.

An examination of the statue that we discovered at Troizen, and the comparison we have made with that of  Doryphoros, has lead me to the conclusion that it is a copy. I believe it is a copy of a rather late period. I think it could be a work of the School of Polykleitos. Let’s see if we can determine the genesis of this work.

Polykleitos himself was the sculptor of a statue of Hermes. From this, we know nothing, except that the time of Pliny it was a Lysimachia or an image of a king. [Lysimachia is a species of plant which often has yellow flowers, and grows vigorously. They tend to grow in damp conditions. Several species within Lysimachia are commonly called loosestrife, although this name is also used for plants within the genus Lythrum. The genus is named in honour of Lysimachus, a king of ancient Sicily, who is said to have calmed a mad ox by feeding it a member of the genus. From Wikipedia].

Thrace probably had a statue of a Lysimachia (image of a king) (1). During the imperial era, the currencies of several individual cities (2) had on the reverse of their coins, images of Hermes.  The following is the brief but plain description found on the reverse of the coins:

Hermes standing, leaning on his the right leg, one hand holding the caducei, the other hand, a kind of purse.  The chlamide was draped over the shoulder or left arm. [The chlamide/chlamys (in Greek χλαμύς / khlamús; genitive singular χλαμύδος / khlamúdos) is a drapery brought exclusively by men born in ancient Greece and more specifically Thessaly. There is a coat of a single piece of fabric square or rectangular and seamless. This piece of cloth generally measures about 2 metres long and 1 metre wide (to go up to the knee). The length could be more than 2 metres to allow the cloak to fall down to the ground. It could be worn alone or on the body of a chiton. It differs from the himation (unattached) because it has a clip on the right shoulder leaving the arm free. The chlamys was draped on both sides of triangle tips. The square or rectangle was placed in the back and the tips brought forward before fixing them in the neck with a clip. According to taste, the two points were symmetrical or moved to one side. from Wikipedia].

The same multiplicity of these depictions and their poor quality, prevent them from being of the Hermes statue consistent with the School of Polykleitos. At this point of archaeological science, I can say Fins d’Annecy (3) has several times published articles about the fact that the statue resembles a Roman bronze.  We have mostly imagined that it might be identified as the work of a master of Argos. Curtius (4) has already spoken about this, but not for the first time, Michaelis (5) had some reservations about this.

  • , H.N., XXXIV, p.556.
  • Marianopolis, Nicopolis, Tomi, Abdera, Aenos, Deultum, Pantalia, Philippopolis, Sardica, Coele, Trajanopolis, etc., Stuart Poole, Catalogue of Coins of the British Museum.
  • Revon, Gazette archeologique, I, p. 114. [Archaeological Gazette]- Kuig, The archaeological Journal, XXI. Heron de Villefosse, II, p.55 and pl. 18. Michaelis, Annali di Roma [Annuls of Rome], 1889, pl. 25, Monumenti [Monuments], X, pl. 50.
  • Zeit [Archaeological Time]. 1875, p. 57.
  • Annali, [Annuals] 1878, p.27.

 

 

In the dictionary of Roscher (1), it is presented as a virtual certainty. It is natural that we wanted to conduct further research into this statue of Hermes of Troizen, and to see if the Roman bronze was a famous resemblance of the statue.

First compare the two faces:

The front view of the d’Annecy Roman bronze ‘Hermes’ has precisely the traits according to Schöne (2) considered as consistent with the School of Polykleitos:

  • the ears have a triangular shape;
  • the cheeks are flat and thin;
  • seen in profile, it consists of two straight lines- one comprising the anterior part of the forehead and jaw, the other under the chin;
  • two sharp  lines make a strong nose that protrudes in front of the first two lines

The front view and the profile of the face of the Hermes of Troizen are much rounder and fuller.  All of the characteristics are closer to the Attika School rather than that of Argos:

  • the nose is barely protruding;
  • lower jaw has a downward shape;
  • the line joining the ears has a gentle curve.

On the first point, the superiority remains with the d’ Annecy Hermes.

Now compare the poses:

  • that of the Troizen Hermes repeats almost point by point the same attitude as that of the Doryphoros style;
  • the d’ Annecy Hermes has the gestures of arms reversed- the left arm hangs down while the right bends.

But the claim of the School of Polykleitos was to create a “law of style i.e. a canon”, that is to say, to create a general type of statue or one that could be easily changed to account for all attitudes.  For this to be possible, it was necessary that the types selected were not duplicated and were created to be consistent with the requirements of the purpose of the statue. Indeed, among the statues that can be attributed to the School of Polykleitos, there are no two of the same type available. In the Doryphoros style, the arm and leg are stretched from one side, the body is divided longitudinally into two halves, left active, right inert.

  • Lexicon, p. 2409.
  • Michaelis, Annali di Roma [Annuls of Rome], 1878, p.22; 1883, p.147; cf. Bulletino 1866, p.70.

 

This division persists in the Amazon style. However, the right side is much more developed, and the arm, instead of hanging, is stretched to its full length.  In Diadumenos style, the movement of the legs is substantially identical, but both arms are active. [The Diadumenos (“diadem-bearer”), together with the Doryphoros and Discophoros, are the three most famous figural types of the sculptor Polykleitos, forming three basic patterns of Ancient Greek sculpture that all present strictly idealised representations of young male athletes in a convincingly naturalistic manner. The Diadumenos is the winner of an athletic contest at games, still nude after the contest and lifting his arms to knot the diadem, a ribbon-band that identifies the winner and which in the bronze original of about 420 BCE would have been represented by a ribbon of bronze. The figure stands in contrapposto with its weight on its right foot, its left knee slightly bent and its head inclined slightly to the right, self-contained, seeming to be lost in thought. Phidias was credited with a statue of a victor at Olympia in the act of tying the fillet around his head; besides Polykleitos, his successors Lysippos and Scopas also created figures of this kind. from Wikipedia].

If we add these to the first three types, substituting the Polykleitos Hermes for that of the figure of d’Annecy, we have a fourth combination, which the ancient critics named.

In this fourth combination, the parts, both inert and active intersect top to bottom, as the right arm points forward and the left leg points backwards. The right leg is stiffened and the left arm falls as if it is all of one piece.  If we assume the contrary for Troizen figure, I believe it falls into one of three types of precedents.

Frankly, I must give up on seeing the statue of Troizen as a replica of the work of Polykleitos. But if we dismiss this alluring hypothesis, we have a greatly embarrassing situation. For all the consideration we have given our Hermes, I am no closer to identifying it as a figure of ancient statuary, and even further from identifying it as Hermes. A ram is very frequently associated with representations of Hermes.  It is on the shoulder or under the arm of the god, or it is seated closely to the god, or it is juxtaposed in the scope of composition of the statue. Only three monuments show us the animal seized by the horns, as a bas-relief.  There is also a feature of a vase painting, and of the work of an orfeverie (goldsmith) (1). Moreover, there is a statue consistent with the images of our very antique analogy.

  • Müller Wilscher, Denknedelar, number 197: Brunn, Vorschule der Kunst Mythology [Preschool of the Arts of Mythology], pl. 93; Elite Ceramography. III, pl. 88. I must mention another example of a similar item. Mr Svoronos, curator of the cabinet of medals in Athens, told me that the museum has a bronze coin depicting Pergamon, from the time of Commodus. The coin belongs to Mr Blumer Imhoof. The description of the coin given by Mr Blumer Imhoof (Greech. Munzen. Number 180) is that of ‘Hermes nacht, mit bliegender Chlamys, rechtshrin, schreitend, mit der einen Rechten Widder Vorderfüssen nachziehend in der Lintzen Stab. Ver chin, Widelerssoph auf einem Steh.’ [which translates as:  (Greek coins Number 180th): Hermes at night, with chlamys draped on the right.  The ram was placed at the front of his feet.  Hermes is standing and is carrying his staff.  (Widelerssoph) ]

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On the one hand we have an image that not only ignores the attributes, but it also ignores the very name of Hermes.  There are sculptures, which solely in terms of attitude and anatomy, resemble our statue. Following his research, Mr Furtwängler published in Volume IV, Mittheilungen (1), articles about two monuments which are relevant to this element of archaeology. One article was about a bas-relief of Argos representing a young man walking next to a horse.  The second article was about a bronze statuette of the muse du Louvre, which represents the god Pan, recognizable by the shape of his ears, holding in his left hand, instead of the blade of the Doryphoros, a pedum curved stick, and in his right hand a syrinx – meaning a set of pan pipes. [pedum stick: An arm-length stick. A knotted stick, the length of an arm, with a curved end, which could also be decorated- Brill Online Reference Works] [syrinx: In classical mythology, Syrinx (Greek Συρινξ) was a nymph and a follower of Artemis, known for her chastity. Pursued by the amorous Greek god Pan, she ran to a river’s edge and asked for assistance from the river nymphs. In answer, she was transformed into hollow water reeds that made a haunting sound when the god’s frustrated breath blew across them. Pan cut the reeds to fashion the first set of pan pipes, which were thenceforth known as syrinx. The word syringe was derived from this word. from Wikipedia]

What makes these two monuments specially interesting for us is that the same round, softening features which we reported earlier in the face of Hermes, are found in both their faces, while their two bodies, such as that of Hermes, retain the  harshness and dryness of the art typical of the School of Polykleitos.

The bas-relief bronze statues have the appearance of contemporary works. Mr Furtwängler attributes these to the middle of the first century, around 500 (2). I think we must also assign the statue to the same time. Here we have gained some clarification at this point. Can we obtain any more clarification? I do not think so. Mr Furtwängler, referring to the statue of Pan, indicates that it is of the general style of Dorophoros.

  • Ein relief aus Argos. [relief from Argos
  • D. Inst., III. P.289.

 

 

 

The character’s face denotes the foreign influence of Argos, presumably that of the Attika School.  The statue of Pan is not a work of the archaic period, there having been made a dozen of these models of Pan dressed in the costume suitable for the role of a god.  These models seem to have been of the middle of the fourth century. This is where Mr Furtwängler’s conclusions end.  He did not provide the name of a sculptor or a definite date. So we are left with the cautions contained in Mr Furtwängler’s research.

Here’s how, for my part, I imagine the genesis of our statue. In the mid of the 11th century, an unknown artist, maybe a Peloponnesian, had the idea to apply the style of Doryphoros to one of Hermes. It seems a very natural idea, since Doryphoros was a young man who excelled in the exercises of the palaestra, and Hermes is also the god of the palaestra.

Was this statue made of marble or metal? We cannot decide. If it were bronze, then it is likely that the right hand was empty, or else it was holding a ram’s horn, as is the case for a series of Arcadian bronzes published by Beule (1), and a statue of the collection of Radovicz (2).

When we wanted to move the marble pattern executed in bronze, the medium used became important. Instead of seeing the tree trunk as insignificant, we had the idea to complete the ram. Then if you were to look at the upper part the right arm of our statue, you would perceive softness in the upper arm. The ram of Hermes would be sitting as if perfectly still.

Later, in the Greco-Roman centuries, practitioners of second and third order reproduced the type of statues suitable to accommodate the taste of their times, that is to say, that they made one a Hermes, and they also made a Mercury.

The change is primarily related to increasing the number of accessories. We piled on pelemele, the cloak of ephebe, the wings of the messenger, and the herald of the caducei. Then we thought this was insufficient, so in the right hand of the god we placed  half a purse, and the ram seated on its own at his side, as is the case, for example, for Blundell’s Hermes  as drawn by Clarac (pl. 661, number 1529 A) (3). [Ephebe /ɛˈfiːb/ (from the Greek ephebos ἔφηβος (plural: epheboi ἔφηβοι), anglicised as ephebe (plural: ephebes), or Latinate ephebus (plural: ephebi) is the term for an adolescent male. From Wikipedia]

  • Conze
  • D. Archeol. Inst., [Year Book of the Institute of Archaeology]. 1887, pl. 9.
  • Add the Bacchus of Dresden, already cited, and figures of Clarac, pl. 678, number 1579 and pl. 688, number 1619. The Hermes of Trent (Annali, 1863, Tav. D’agg. Q). The ram is one with flowing folds from the cloak of the statue. It is perhaps a more distant derivation of the same original.

 

And so as history has evolved, the issue has become more complicated. Hermes and Mercury are among the most widespread kinds of statues made, that show their several essential features. The hip movement style of these statues is the most apparent feature, which was passed subsequently to the masters of Polykleitos. The style was transmitted from to school to school until last epochs of classical art.  The statue of Troizen is one of the first monuments to have disappeared but I think it is among those that seems nearer to the prototype. Regardless of its artistic value, and despite its many imperfections, the fact is that there may still be insufficient information to assure us that the statue of Troizen is Hermes. In the eyes of archaeologists there will continue to be undoubted interest.

 

  1. LEGRAND

 

[Translated by Linda Atkinson January 2013]