A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology

Smith, William

A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. William Smith, LLD, ed. 1890


1. A painter, a native of Athens, flourished about 40, B. C. With him commences a new period in the history of the art. He gave a dramatic effect to the essential forms of Polygnotus, without actually departing from them as models, by adding to them a representation of persons and objects as they really exist, not, however, individually, but in classes: "primus species exprimere instituit." (Plin. Nat. 35.36.1.) This feature in the works of Apollodorus is thus explained by Fuseli (Lect. i.) :--" The acuteness of his taste led him to discover that, as all men were connected by one general form, so they were separated, each by some predominant power, which fixed character and bound them to a class: that in proportion as this specific power partook of individual peculiarities, the farther it was removed from a share in that harmonious system which constitutes nature and consists in a due balance of all its parts.

Thence he drew his line of imitation, and personified the central form of the class to which his object belonged, and to which the rest of its qualities administered, without being absorbed: agility was not suffered to destroy firmness, solidity, or weight; nor strength and weight agility; elegance did not degenerate to effeminancy, or grandeur swell to hugeness." Fuseli justly adds that these principles of style seem to have been exemplified in his two works of which Pliny has given us the titles, a worshipping priest, and Ajax struck by lightning, the former being the image of piety, the latter of impiety and blasphemy. A third picture by Apollodorus is mentioned by the Scholiast on the Plutus of Aristophanes. (5.385 )

Apollodorus made a great advance in colouring. He invented chiaroscuro (φθορὰν καὶ ἀπόχρωσιν σκιᾶς, Plut. de Gloria Athen. 2). Earlier painters, Dionysius for example (Plut. Tim. 36), had attained to the quality which the Greeks called τόνος, that is, a proper gradation of light and shade, but Apollodorus was the tirst who heightened this effect by the gradation of tints, and thus obtained what modern painters call tone. Hence he was called σκιαγράφος. (Hesychius, s. v.) Pliny says that his pictures were the first that rivetted the eyes, and that he was the first who conferred due honour upon the pencil, plainly because the cestrum was an inadequate instrument for the production of those effects of light and shade which Apollodorus produced by the use of the pencil. In this state he delivered the art to Zeuxis [ZEUXIS], upon whom he is said to have written verses, complaining that he had robbed him of his art. Plutarch (L. c.) says, that Apollodorus inscribed upon his works the verse which Pliny attributes to Zeuxis,

Μωμήσεταί τις μᾶλλον ἢ μιμήσεται