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

(Χερσίφρων), or, as the name is written in Vitruvius and one passage of Pliny, CTESIPHON, an architect of Cnossus in Crete, in conjunction with his son Metagenes, built or commenced building the great temple of Artemis at Ephesus. The worship of Artemis was most probably established at Ephesus before the time of the Ionian colonization [ARTEMIS, p. 376a.]; and it would seem, that there was already at that distant period some temple to the goddess. (Paus. 7.2.4.) We are not told what had become of this temple, when, about the beginning of the 6th century B. C., the Ionian Greeks undertook the erection of a new temple, which was intended for the centre of their national worship, like the temple of Hera at Samos, which was built about the same time by the Dorian colonies. The preparation of the foundations was commenced about B. C. 600. To guard against earthquakes, a marsh was chosen for the site of the temple, and the ground was made firm by layers of charcoal rammed down, over which were laid fleeces of wool. This contrivance was suggested by Theodorus of Samos. [THEODORUS.] The work proceeded very slowly. The erection of the columns did not take place till about 40 years later. (B. C. 560.) This date is fixed by the statement of Herodotus (1.92), that most of the pillars were presented by Croesus. This therefore is the date of Chersiphron, since it is to him and to his son Metagenes that the ancient writers attribute the erection of the pillars and the architrave. Of course the plan could not be extended after the erection of the pillars; and therefore, when Strabo (xiv. p.640) says, that the temple was enlarged by another architect, he probably refers to the building of the courts round it. It was finally completed by Demetrius and Paeonius of Ephesus, about 220 years after the foundations were laid ; but it was shortly afterwards burnt down by HEROSTRATUS on the same night in which Alexander the Great was born, B. C. 356. It was rebuilt with greater magnificence by the contributions of all the states of Asia Minor. It is said, that Alexander the Great offered to pay the cost of the restoration on the condition that his name should be inscribed on the temple, but that the Ephesians evaded the offer by replying, that it was not right for a god to make offerings to gods. The architect of the new temple was DEINOCRATES. The edifice has now entirely disappeared, except some remnants of its foundations. Though Pliny (like others of the ancient writers) has evidently confounded the two buildings, yet his description is valuable, since the restored temple was probably built on the same foundations and after the same general plan as the old one. We have also descriptions of it by Vitruvius, who took his statements from a work on the temple, which was said to have been written by the architects themselves, Chersiphron and Metagenes. (vii. Praef. § 12.) There are also medals on which the elevation of the chief portico is represented. The temple was Octastyle, Dipteral, Diastyle, and Hypaethral. It was raised on a basement of 10 steps. Its dimensions were 425 X 220 feet. The columns were 127 in number, 60 feet high, and made of

white marble, a quarry of which was discovered at a distance of only eight miles from the temple, by a shepherd named Pixodarus. Thirty-six of the columns were sculptured (perhaps Caryatides within the cella), one of them by the great sculptor Scopas. (Plin. Nat. 36.14. s. 21 : but many critics think the reading doubtful.) They were of the Ionic order of architecture, which was now first invented. (Plin. Nat. 36.23. s. 56, and especially Vitr. 4.1. §§ 7, 8.) Of the blocks of marble which composed the architrave some were as much as 30 feet long. In order to convey these and the columns to their places, Chersiphron and Metagenes invented some ingenious mechanical contrivances. (Vitr. 10.6, 7, or 10.2. §§ 11, 12, ed. Schneider; Plin. Nat. 36.14. s. 21.) The temple was reckoned one of the seven wonders of the world, and is celebrated in several epigrams in the Greek Anthology, especially in two by Antipater of Sidon (ii. pp. 16, 20, Brunck and Jacobs).

From this account it is manifest that Chersiphron and Metagenes were among the most distinguished of ancient architects, both as artists and mechanicians.

(Plin. Nat. 7.25. s. 38, 16.37. s. 79, 36.14. s. 21; Vitr. 3.2.7, vii. Praef. § 16; Strab. xiv. pp. 640, 641; Liv. 1.45; D. L. 2.9; Philo Byzant. de VII Orb. Mirac. p. 18; Hirt, Tempel der Diana von Ephesus, Berl. 1807, Geschichte der Baukunst, i. pp. 232-4, 254, with a restoration of the temple, plate viii. ; Rasche, Lex. Univ. Rei Num. s. v. Ephesia, Ephesus ; Eckhel, Doct. Num. Vet. 2.512.)