Beauty in Greece.

Aspects of origins and developments
Dialog and dialectics in ancient philosophy

Alicia Montemayor García

The definition of Beauty as a whole made by parts appears on Classical Greece. Although we also find it in Aristotle defined as symmetría, it has a longer development than what history of philosophy considers, which is of great importance for Aesthetics. I propose that the development of the concept of Beauty as symmetría starts form the work of Polyclitus of Argos to later appear repeatedly shading all previous idea of Beauty, which does not imply that previous conceptions about it have disappeared. The present paper asks on the definitions of Beauty previous to the Classical period and the way in which they relate to artists practice and theoretical thinking.

It will seem that ancient Greeks are a model to be followed and that their way of doing and thinking things are fundament and origin of our way of doing and thinking. Nonetheless, despite this vision presents us the Greeks as if it were our same face we must accept that they represent someone else that we must know in order to know ourselves. Distant and close, Greeks present themselves as the beginning while at the same time they refer us to a world fundamentally different which we must understand in its difference. It is generally accepted that theories on Beauty appear in the fifth century b. C together with the arising of specialized knowledges, although we do not find the first definition that joins the concept of Beauty to that of symmetría within philosophical or literary milieus as it is enunciated for the first time in the treatise named Canon of Polyclitus of Argos, a sculptor active in the fifth century b. C. Unfortunately the treatise is lost, therefore we must infer Polyclitus’ intention from the fragments found n the texts of other authors. For instance, Galen mentions “beauty lies not in the proportion of elements of the constituting elements but in the proportionality of parts”.1 This affirmation indicates a change in front of the archaic                                                         
Galen, de placitis Hipocratis et Platonis, V 448-449 Kuhn. “Beauty lies, not in the proportion of constituting elements but in the proportionality of parts, as between a finger and another finger, and between all fingers and the metacarpus, between the carpus and the forearm and between the forearm and the arm, actually between all parts among themselves, as it is written in Polyclitus’ Canon. To teach us the whole proportion on the body Polyclitus based his theory in one work, making the statue of a man according to the principles of his treatise and he called the statue, as well as the treatise, Canon.”
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2001. may as well be applied to poetry.6 where symmetría is no longer the fundamental quality but one among others that are                                                          Galen. 5 Plato. idem. which results in a well-bonded and beautiful work. 264c. according to the requirement of a certain fairness of proportions”. 4 Plutarch. 235. giving the artists a theoretical support for the new developments in sculpture. rhetoric’s and philosophy.2 What really concerns the author is the proportion “of all parts among themselves”3 and with the whole. as an organism. is not symmetría but syostasi. defined in a general way within the Canon’s context. as Plato says on Phaedrus. As Plutarch says: “beauty is the result of a multiplicity of calculated elements that contribute to a same happy ending. 2 3 . with its own body […]” and its parts “written in such a way that they correspond between themselves and with the whole”. it was not only a theoretical text. Galen. p.5 Nonetheless the term used by Plato to refer to this organicism. Thus. which at the beginning only is applied to the body and then to sculpture and painting. in this sense we may understand symmetría as the proportionality of the parts. Phaedrus. the idea of beauty as symmetría goes from sculpture to writing for. idem. A. but that it also prescribed rules for practise. “all discourse must be composed as a living being. This idea. Moralia. aimed to build a whole made of parts that work the way living organisms do. we must remember that. XIII 45c.  2 sculpture tradition..4 This definition depends on this symmetría that. Polyclitus’ idea points to the figure as a whole. in this sense the fragment is focused particularly on the problem of the human body proportions as they are given “between the carpus and the forearm and between the forearm and the arm”. This change is significant for Plato turns this proportionality in part of a theory that explains not only the relation between the parts and the whole but also the relation between “the whole reality as a reflection of the world of ideas and particularly the idea of Good”. Although we cannot deny that the enunciation of this Canon arises within the visual arts context. De audiendo. 6 López Eire. which was also concerned on proportion problems but in a completely different manner. so that this concept — although abstract— is going to define in a concrete way and in practice the entire way of the composition of the work. just like technical treatises. We may understand it as the keeping in of the parts with the whole and of these among themselves.

but that it has middle and extremes. The same idea is expressed in the Hippocratic treatises. symmetría. only then it will be beautiful. although in gnoseological terms it is distant form the truth. 236. and therefore ordered and embellished”. The idea that the discourse must resemble a living being. p.8 According to Plato poetry imitates with words something that at the same time is a reflection of the ideas and. with all its parts in its place and proportion. and that when writing it al parts combine among themselves with the whole”. as leaning without a teacher. cit. which is the organic form. as when Socrates tells Phaedrus how a speech is to be done and whom to address it he is not only analyzing but also prescribing. “But I think that you will consider that all discourse must be composed as a living being. The work must have order. 9 Plato. therefore we can translate the term the term as framework. as Cenino Cenninni said at the end of the fifteenth century. Educational function of poetry in Greek paideía causes that the comprehension of what the poets say and the way they say it becomes the most important fact. well weaved and proportioned. Coherence and verisimilitude necessaries for a work to be well weaved will be developed by Aristotle. Gorgias.  3 needed to achieve. nonetheless Plato does not tell us how. This theory is fundamentally literary. Polyclitus not only wrote that beauty resides in the proportionality of parts but that 7 8 . since the rules and norms that these means follows are fundamentally different from the ones that the poets who express by means of writing will follow. the effort will result fruitless.9 includes the concept of symmetría and makes it part of a broader theory which is not mere speculation but that gets into the sphere of téchne. I follow A. To explain with words is. 503 e. The oral character of Greek culture nonetheless marks these criteria. The whole must be ordered. in such a way that it is not acephalic.10                                                          Plato. although Plato himself mistrusts poetry. although the theory is applicable to visual arts —and it was for a long time—. The need of unit present in the Poetics owes to the platonic philosophy and to the theory developed by Polyclitus. as his interest is not focused in the téchnai even when the basis of classicist aesthetics are already settled. it does not matter how many books one may read nor how many time does one dedicate to the subject. 264 c. and an organic character. the prescriptions that work within the limits of poetry and rhetoric do not work the same way in sculpture and painting. Phaedrus. for the same way medical texts were used as a whole with technical practice to carry out a surgery. López Eire’s translation in op.7 This is because syostasi does not refer only to the whole’s proportionality but to the act of composing itself. assembling or joint. as Plato himself says in Gorgias “(…) that the whole results in a well assembled object. This is one of the reasons why he tries to change the previous patterns with which poetry was evaluated and emphasizes on its correction and amendment rather on divine inspiration. nor its feet are missing. which implies the work’s limitation and organic character. 10 We must point out that in this case. with a well-built body. because of its construction it must assume the same form as nature..

as we may notice in many descriptions of objects in the Iliad. as well as Polyclitus’ Canon. The other way of obtaining beauty that does not use symmetría. both forms continued to coexist —not separately but in a peculiar mixture in which details are as important as the whole. the enamelled legs and the hundred fringe belts—. when from many colours and bodies create an only body and figure. 2. that dos not think of the whole as an organism is not confined to the realm of visual arts. the total shape of the shield —the whole— is the least relevant. 2003. Memorabilia. where forms and colours are presented as a spectacle and delight to the view. (ed. explains that as “it is not easy to find a man without flaws”. in Memorabilia.).                                                                                                                                                                    the rules and standards are in his own work for those who want to follow them. Sculptures had incrustations. For the relation between experience and the treatises in the Hippocratic corpus cf. in the Encomium to Helen Gorgias uses a completely different form to express the relation by implying the creation of a body from many parts. 10.12 This tradition of gathering beautiful parts to obtain a whole of greater beauty is linked to an older tradition that entails excellence in the craftsmanship. for instance. try to make sure that they delight the sight (…)” 12 Xenophon. . This is not so. as will show the artistic development of sculpture and painting of the fifth century b. L. For instance. where details are so important that on the description of Achilles’ shield. It is looked for to gather “from many what is much beautiful of each” in order to compose “totally beautiful bodies”. 11 Gorgias.11 Xenophon too. we find it not only in sixth and fifth century b..  4 We know that beauty consists on the relation between the whole and the parts. pp. C literature but long time before. “On the other hand painters. Helen. Plato’s philosophy and later that of Aristotle. It is hard to see how these two different ways of conceiving composition and efficiency of the finished work lived together if it were not by the few examples of the great Greek bronze statuary that are still conserved. Dean-Jones. patinas of different colours and they were also ornamented with dresses and jewels. such as Nestor’s cup or Achilles’ shield. H. White marbles of Italy’s Renaissance are not the best example of how the framework. We may consider that once the notion of symmetría and then that of organism invaded artistic theory and practice this way of understanding beauty was rejected. “Literacy and the Charlatan in ancient Greek Medicine” in Yunis.C. The emphasis is not placed on a detailed description of the whole but in the marvellous details of the parts —the silver nails. III. but symmetría or the organic construction were not the only ways the Greeks used to explain the obtaining of beauty. 108-121.

in “Norma y forma” in Gombrich. because of their nature and function. who did they interest to. therefore a study on this subject should be of a heterogeneous nature. 214.. p. in which two traditions were mixed with no violence at all. as it should take in account poets but also historians and rhetors as well as consider vocabulary forms applied to cultic and votive                                                          The Word “classic” used this way involves a certain ambiguity. This is why I consider it necessary to ask if this idea of beauty as proportionality was born —like Athena from Zeus’ head— as if before the half of the fifth century b. ruled by the idea of proportionality developed by Polyclitus.. the conception of beauty that lies in the relation between the whole and the parts. far from the treatise that tries to explain a notion that is interested in a series of particular phenomena and that opposes to an inherited knowledge that argues with and relates to other similar texts. 1984. while for Pollit 1972. or of a ‘classical phase’ (…) we use words qualitatively to express recognition of a standard of perfection within a particular genre (…)” or that takes into account that “The adjective classicus thus came to mean ‘of or pertaining to class’ in a general way. is the one that we usually find as the classical definition of beauty13 —where order. the conception of classical beauty cannot be the starting point and origin of all conceptions of beauty. and if there is evidence that shows us this situation. but most often is referred to things associated with the upper classes”. 14 Gombrich. From this idea it is necessary that we ask ourselves if there were other different conceptions of beauty and. on whom or on what did they exercise their domain. p. constitute the so called “classical beauty”. as we have seen. This dating back in time implies that we must not look out in the first half of the fifth century but much earlier. clarity and distinction of the parts are necessary to build a harmonious whole. H. therefore the kind of texts we will find necessarily are. for before the fifth century b. as they themselves must have had a similar development.  5 the structure of a Greek sculpture was made. C there has not been any rules or standards that define it before it was subject of philosophical reflection. C we have conceptions and definitions of beauty that are not part of the classical definition. It is known that there is no notice of texts that deal explicitly with beauty or treatises on poetical or plastic composition before the half of the fifth century b. On the first place.14 Nonetheless. “La Madonna della Sedia de Rafael” in Gombrich. 1 “When we speak of a ‘classic example’ of something. liable to be repeated but not overcome”. 1984. if this is the case.C. For Gombrich. E. 13 . p. 157. therefore we need to go back in time and search these discourses that talk about it in order to find out if there was an alternative or different form to this whole of rules that. classic is “a matchless solution. which is the object of the creator while creating his work.

Homer op. III 460-470 and IV 120-130. by being anointed with oil or having light of their own. XIII 242-245. 210. II 42-43. that will be the next step in an investigation focused only in Homer. whether in their “natural” aspect or when they are touched by a god.. X 75-76. V 4-7. 673. in this case the passage in Ilias II 391-394 that describes the feminine beauty of Paris is opposed to that of XXII 71-76 which describes the fallen warrior. op. as regards the subjects. XIX 15-17. The list indicates a tendency to understand shining as a characteristic of beautiful objects. X 436-441. rhetors. like Achilles. V 60-61 and XII 294-295. II 391-394. XI 38-40. cit. Odyssey. 401. II 447-449. a reflex of the warrior’s qualities and a quality linked to the divine. V 500. Homer. and if this is found only in Homer. This classification separates subjects from objects not because these keep their beauty forever. 113. Homer. who has not been invited to the wedding. 183. we take into account those who manufacture the objects as well as men and women. 544549. We must also ask ourselves if this definition has some relation to the structure and the style of the texts in which it appears or if it simply applies to descriptions of objects without having any consequences on the composition of the text in its whole. On the first place beautiful objects can be new or used. III 419. We know what this gave place to and that it was not out of Zeus’ plan that the war of Troy would begin with a beauty contest as well as that his object was the rescue of the most beautiful woman. At the espousals of Peleus and Thetis Eride —the discord—.. like how men for short moments resemble the immortals or shine with the splendour of the sun. IV 40-50. as I do not think that there was an evolution on the notion I present but a series of juxtapositions. V 727-731. On the other side. from epithets. V 722-726. 18. Homer op. The question is if. This study on the concepts of beauty previous to the idea of proportionality becomes necessary to understand the concept in its difference. I believe there is a search in Homeric vocabulary of adjectives like ambrósios and nectáreos that takes in the meaning of refulgent. Ilias. Odyssey. I consider that the ideas on this kind of beauty did not disappear with the introduction of the concept of the harmonious whole. heroes. XVIII 81-86. Homer op. 684 and XXIII 141. Ilias. shining is also related to the blonde hair of Iliad’s heroes. 740. Odyssey. In the case of men that manufacture these objects cf. IV 226. on the second. III 284. but because human beauty is less constant and temporary. II 10-20. Lastly.15                                                          This sample classifies the content not the form. Homer describes us wonderful objects and places. and Homer. 371-374.. painters and sculptors. coexistences and correlations on the works of poets. Thus. cit. IX 121-124 and XXIII 267-270. Objects that wonder are usually divinely manufactured objects. For beautiful objects in general cf. XXI 107-109. Homer. 293. 372-377. VI 306. cit. cf. it must not surprise us that within the Iliad we find numerous mentions on beauty. cf. 124. 434. Homer Ilias. IV 132-133. IV. maidens and gods. philosophers. cit. similes and descriptions we can find something similar to a definition of beauty. cf. or if we can also find it other authors. I 200-240. XVII 6. objects and subjects that shine whether by the material which they are made with.  6 sculpture. As regards Hesiod I have taken the passage of 15 . 438. made from more less precious materials. X 240. II 642. VIII 191-193. XI 125. VII 45 and VIII 366. XIII 429-432. XIV 175-185.. likewise. XXII 71 -76. XVIII 561-177 and XXIV 228-234. threw the famous golden apple with the inscription “To the most beautiful”. Homer. XX 331-335. for new objects cf. for beauty on men and women cf. VI 293-295. that it is necessary and desirable to show texts and works that show this concept. 381-382 and Homer. There is a difference between the martial beauty of the warrior and that of a woman.

well made or made of precious materials—. 17 It is important to specify that in Homer there is no cut between the human and the divine worlds. 1982. epithets in which the prefix eu.17 It is clear that some of the most outstanding differences are found in the material —whether gold or silver—. there are cases in which humans have divine presents —as Peleus’ and Achilles’ armours or Andromaca’s veil—. which in the Iliad only appear in the descriptions of Achilles’ tent —which remains a tent no matter how elaborated its description is— and in the descriptions of the dwellings of the gods. as in “well built altar”. of the charts. as the use of epithets and similes is not arbitrary.16 In the first place. while by not giving us a direct expression of its beauty he always leave it implicit. We may also affirm that we do not find in them the idea of organic whole. “The feeling of beauty is not directly expressed. although they are not made of precious materials nor have singular features. As we may see.is joined to the word may seem to apply to well-done. There are also differences between the Iliad and the Odyssey. Vivante P. from the war and the banquets —milieus that appear in the Iliad— the Odyssey repeats only the banquet. where we do not find the prefix and therefore we need another adjective in which there is a specific determination of the object. is connatural to the Iliad and occupies a great deal of the examples that I will present. as in “silver krater” or “black vessels”. there are differences between the objects —whether they are new. the objects themselves. but is always implicit” and p. “well walled Ilion or “well balanced vessels”. in which “decorated with silver nails”. Thus. its use is not disordered or hazardous. These objects. Hesiod. Homer shows us things from the point of view the vital and necessary part. for many of the objects preferred by the poet in the former do not appear in the latter. 570589 and works and Days. “strong pike”. 57-82. 119 “This perception of the whole and part is deeply rooted in the Homeric representation of things even quite aside from the noun-epithets phrases. it is not a simple accumulation of words or a senseless repetition. In the formulas “hollow ships”. Thus the detailed relation of the weapons. “glittering spear”. situations and characters. We find it in the pervasive tendency to present a thing in the evidence of some vital constituent part wherever the passing act brings that part in to view”. complete objects. although this does not exclude the idea of the whole. I must say in the first place that these vary from the Iliad to the Odyssey. 16 Cf. in which one may observe the mastery of the téchne. which does not require a description of the general form to put the object before our eyes but that parts from what is more characteristic in it.  7 From a first classification we may say that there are a kind of enunciations that are not isolated mentions but that they repeat successively through the whole text in different contexts. female figures in the Odyssey become more important and the places by which pass Odysseus and Telemachus become necessary.. for example. next to “made with art”. . Theogonia. as there is a change of milieus. “solid cuirass” or “beautiful cheeks”. to which are added the palaces. “tight” or “delicate” add to the                                                                                                                                                                    Pandora’s creation as I think that she is representative of objects and subjects cf. the difference between divine and human tools does not have to do with the form but with the quality. “purple”. There seems to be a conscious opposition to Snell’s idea of the Homeric body.

desire and charm. but to certain gifts —particularly those of Aphrodite— which are related to youth. which implies excellence in the craft. On the other hand we have epithets derived from the root er or that. Vivante P. P. We must consider in the first place that a city is not an object among other objects and that although the reference we find seems to talk about love and admiration to concrete cities they do not tell of a specific physical aspect —as would be the high walls of Troy—. among other formulas are applied to objects that may or not be of gold or silver. 124. We may say that in these cases the idea of beauty is related to the magnificence of the object. “not touched by fire”. of ostentation. cit. as many time the idea of a glitter coming from the object is added to this kind of descriptions —so the “glittering panoply”. p. mean love. op. manliness and marriage. which are applied to a few objects. of a time when everything participated of this way of being.. as it is common to find them in weaponry descriptions. IV 49-20: “tò gàr eû parà mikrón dià pollôn arithmôn éphe gínesthai”.  8 description information of a luxury sensation. particularly to the prizes at Patroclus’ games. pp. the “earrings that irradiate a charming shine”.18 The prefix eu-. . Vivante. as the material or colour of something.. 20 In this sense the polis is not the walled city but the whole of its citizens. its correct workmanship and value. who will no longer use it as a prefix but as a noun. cit. will continue to be used to qualify works of artists and artisans.19 Homer on his side does not consider only what is well done but he also adds adjectives that talk specifically of what is new. which are applied to complex situations and objects in human contexts. as we may see in the case of Polyclitus himself. which persists in his corpse —that at its time shines when being anointed wit                                                          18 19 Cf. where the value of each object is specially considered. linked to himeros. as in erannos in the “pleasant Chalidon” or empératos in “delicious banquet”. is going to be one of the categories that will be used to talk about beauty. 21 Cf. but not only that.. together with kalós. 120-121. op. The prefix. as they do not refer to specific qualities.20 That is why it must not surprise us that epithets like erateinós in “seductive skin” are also derived from the same root.21 Nonetheless it is not only gentle Aphrodite’s beauty which is associated to youth but also that of the warrior.. but they attend to a quality that emanates from its own inhabitants. the “dazzling bronze” or the “sparkling bronze armour”. Belopeica. Filo Mechanic. “recently made” or “recently dyed”. as in “nailed for the first time”.

nobler and more terrifying’ (Rep. cit.. op. washed. 11.. “Panta Kala: from Homer to Simonides”. XVIII 470-471 and 558. heroic death. in Vernant. the cups or the weapons— that are not only well-manufactured objects but also have a peculiar attractive —which is then determined by a relative sentence—. J. like Paris’s sensuous beauty of feminine loveliness. where men are represented not as anyone among men but someone among the best. Cf. 22 . for the word kalós may be a predicate. but the beauty unique to a warrior”... the eyes or the hair. P. Vernant.. this beauty is shown by the mortals when. and perfumed.24 Next to this epithets expressions like “beautiful wheels”. in having him pass through the entire funeral ritual from the exhibition of his body. Homer Ilias. “A ‘Beautiful Death’ and the Disfigured Corpse in Homeric Epic”. 1991. It is not enough to die with honour. Kalós is used as a comparative or a superlative. P. his youth appears primarily in vigour (bië). as the cheeks. as they imply the poets’ chants and the funerary memorial. P. by giving honour or receiving it from another warrior who incarnates the same ideal—.  9 oil to remember it—. but when talking of men and women he does not talk of the beauty of the body but of its parts. The importance that is given to youth’s shining. 62.. It is the same hēbē that Achilles guarantees for himself in perpetuity by choosing a short life an early.. 23 Vernant. 27 Cf.. it is necessary for the body to be preserved and that it have its part of honour in order that the beautiful death is fulfilled.25 If Homer does use kalós in his descriptions of nature to denote fertility and exuberance. cit. pp. as a predicate or adverbially as a neutral abstract.. 87: “In giving him the geras thanonton —that is.. cit. 203. but always for delimited and contained objects and subjects. op. cit. and that implies virility and courage. “The hēbē that Patroklos and Hector lose along with their lives is one they possessed more fully than other kouroi. the neck. J.27 There is no organic conception but the detail of the corporal splendours that deploy their wonders before the eyes. they resemble the gods —in the case of warriors it reveals in all its magnitude in the death in battle.. cit. 24 Vernant. op. pp. While the warrior is alive. 62.3). p. 64 and 69. p. 66: “When Xenophon explains the wearing of long hair as a way of making Spartan soldiers look ‘taller. J.                                                          As regards warriors’ martial beauty in epics cf. J. in an instant of glory. P. though the latter might have been younger. J. 204-205. p. is reflected in the funeral ritual. strength (kratos) and endurance (alkē). P. P.23 It is then this beauty that we see in Homer’s poems that is also that of funerary memorial. Lac.22 Being temporary. now adorned. to the cremation of the corpse and the erection of the sēma to recall his memory for men to come [essomenosi puthesthai] (the same formula applies to the funerary memorial as to epic song)— the friends of the deceased expect to ensure forever his status as one of the beautiful dead. a superlative or a comparative. he does not refer to the mountains or the sea as beautiful. p. “A ‘Beautiful Death’ and the Disfigured Corpse in Homeric Epic”. funeral rituals are necessary. P. in Vernant. it is an orchard or the river flow that he exalts. lifeless corpse. he does not contradict the criterion of beauty this custom confers on them.26 It is characteristic from him to stop in the objects —the mantles. anointed with oil... in Vernant. a glorious hero”. nor he praises the cities but their houses and walls. op. Cf. the glow of his youth persists in the extraordinary beauty of his body”. when he has become weak.. 25 Cf. beautiful mantle” or “beautiful ankles” are not of the same kind than the ones we have analyzed. Vernant. Vivante. Vivante P. 26 The only examples of its application is in Achilles’ shield. J. op. that persists in the death of the best. J.. he only emphasizes that it is not a matter of any kind of attractiveness. P.

To understand this bond we must consider in the first place that what the Greeks valued the most in a work was its general impression. In the case of objects that produce marvel. then came wrath upon him yet the more. We know what is beautiful. Aspe Armella. the appearance of which the audience can imagine. as it had been flame”. 1993. gleaming like the star / that rises in Autumn and whose dazzling beams blaze / among the many stars in the darkness of the night”. the text does not describe them. therefore if a form is beautiful it is surely true —from here derives Plato’s critic to the poets. 283. There no description in Hesiod that tells us exactly how Pandora looked like. 5. We must understand the work’s structure form from the emotional impact.29 We see such mind disturbing impression in Aristotle’s thinking as something that exceeds logical and natural objective knowledge categories.28 Thus the shinning in the objects denotes its values and richness while the shinning between mortals is linked to the gods. A. it is something immediately perceived and because of it cannot be defined. XVII 205-206: “The goddess of Zeus’ caste crowned his head with a golden nimbus and made flow from his body an inflamed burning flame”.30 This                                                          Homer. it is what is outside the ordinary and therefore has an irrational cause that is alien to who perceives the event. it has to do with the truth. maybe the best example is Pandora’s description in Hesiod’s Theogony. 29 Sprague Becker. “Though the quality of being modest. its emotional impact. a wonder for men and gods whose only view causes desire. There is then no separation between form and content. which was related to the form but based on the discourse’s or poem’s content. or full of reverence.. V. XXII 25-28: “Old Priam was the first to see him / thrown through the plain. the original sense of the discourse is corrupted and the resplendent form that hides a false meaning becomes as dangerous as Pandora’s box.17: “(…) when Achilles saw the arms. XIX 16. 30 Cf.  10 On the other hand. but he does not attempt to describe the visible signs that suggest that interpretation”. it is not a mere appearance that changes before our eyes. and his eyes blazed forth in terrible wise from beneath their lids. Although in this context we must say that the definition of beauty is ostensive because it is true. The bird names a quality. for it allows to see the courage of the warrior. We are privy only to the describer’s interpretation of visible phenomena. but to Greek eyes this beauty is more than luxury and delight. p. since the truth of the fact leaps to the eye. we note that this has a clear bond to the divine and that it does not only cause amazement because of its beauty but because it may also be considered as terrifying. may have outward and visible signs. 2002. because when al is form. 28 . when we consider the examples in which beauty is associated to the shinning coming from a person. His comparison with a sculpture of a discrete maiden. p. for her real appearance not as important as the impression she causes on the observer. her shining clothes and ornaments makes of this “beautiful evil” a thauma idesthai. Ilias. that fill us with wonder.

. in a contemporary artistic context the truth is articulated with the form in a less restricted way than in the Greek context. op. is alien to this other definition of beauty—. A. pp. although today we do not think that the content affects in an immediate way. We must take into account that there is a series of discourse technologies in Greece. which implies the idea of an organic whole. for that way it gives more beauty to the representation. rules and strategies that do not always agree with ours. op. we have a composition form that tries to articulate beauty from beautiful parts. 1452 a 2-3. for truth and false play less precise roles in which artists may situate themselves.. it must have an intention related to the tale.. We know that in an artistic work form and content must articulate in an adequate way. there was no form nor wanted to praise it without its content.33 There is not then the order. unexpected act is not random. who must obtain unity in his work and must therefore articulate it in the same way as the other elements. that is preached.34 These series of considerations are joined to the Greek archaic art construction form in a way that. for what is said counts as much as the way in which it is said. accumulating parts without having a clear notion of the whole. cit. in fact. 34 As Conford tells us. In the case of the Greeks the cognitive part —the one which tells about the poems— and the impression were one and only thing together with the formal devices. Aristotle. cit. The content may be real but this does not mean that we have a beautiful form. for the whole is the accumulation of them. not something that is defined from the relations of the whole with its parts. and in which the eye looks over the object without taking into account the parts but its general impression of beauty. where form and content articulate with the content in a different way.32 This wonderful. it simply is something that is shown. 86. This idea                                                          31 32 Aristotle mentions the term twice in Poetics 1452 a1-10 and 1460 a 11-12. p. 33 Sprague Becker. This is not the case of Hesiod. 1987. 277-290. with practices. It would seem that in Aristotle these objects’ bond with the divine is lost and that we had a natural causality which is understood as another resource at the poet’s service. the clarity and proportion that we find in Polyclitus’ theory —the definition of beauty from symmetría. . besides this intimate relation of form and content. where there is no way to define beauty.  11 interpretation of what is wonderful31 is found in the context imitation of actions that inspire fear and compassion and how “these are produced mostly and more intensively when some are presented beside the opinion between the others”.

1984. ______. as we have seen. Gorgias Leontinos. UNAM. Madrid. The Ages of Homer: A tribute to Emily Townsend Vermeule. we may say that currently our situation is not different. Carter. Claudii Galeni Opera Omnia. 1980. Signos filosóficos 8. Madrid.. UNAM. 1991. Teogonía. Homer.  12 does not take into account the notion of organism that we see in the Canon but. Madrid. as is especially clear in the temples al Sounion. Mexico. J. The Loeb Classical Library. 2002. 414 pp. Austin. at present artists are mute creators waiting for the critic to explain them what does correction and fairness in their work consist in. 1974. Different architects may have stressed one aspect more than the other. Marchant. Lo maravilloso —to thaumaston—: Un elemento olvidado en la Poética.                                                          Wilson Jones. p.. ______. for composition forms are not scientific theories that when appearing cancel the former ones but that may be used simultaneously in the same work. 1979. Fragmentos. and of Juno Lacinia al Agrigento. C. 1981. D. Remigio Gómez Díaz. Hesiod. Los orígenes del pensamiento filosófico griego. Guardiola Iranzo y F. Principium sapientiae. F. Aspe Armella. 1995. El legado de Apeles. 51-70. artistic teaching and composition are appreciated. the different art theories on art affect the way in which a work. Barcelona. Anton Dieterich. UNAM. In fact Vitruvius often shows some difficulty in neatly separating the two concepts. Mexico. Virginia. tr. tr. tr. Mexico UNAM. Giménez Gracia.. Segesta. Esteve Riambau.  35 . E.651 pp. C. Madrid. 542 pp. 1993. tr. E. vers. 1978. Georg Olms. Visor.M. Hildesheim. Ideales e ídolos. Kühn. Cornford. This is because since Motherwell’s death there has not been a painter that has the capacity to develop a theory that is not a more less lucky adaptation of some philosophical system in use among the critics. ed.G. Los trabajos y los días. There are very few artists that do a real reflection on the many theoretical options at his disposal and soon prefer one or other philosophy. 2001. but the ideal was for both together. modules and proportions could reinforce one another. Poética de Aristóteles. tr. tr. Massachusetts and London. Estudios sobre el arte del Renacimiento. Crespo Güemes. 1982. Norma y forma. 176 pp. Mexico. as we have already seen. Morris. H. tr. V. Banquete. Alianza Editorial. Mexico. Harvard University Press. pp. tr. R. 319 pp. 1964. 1959.. 397 pp. Gustavo Gili. Apología. 542 pp. Gombrich. M. Gredos. 263 pp. Aristotle. 20 vols. tr.. P. Madrid. 105 “Contrary to a popular prejudice.35 To conclude. Recuerdos de Sócrates. Vianello. Ilíada. Gredos. Alianza. 318 pp. García Yebra. Sarh P. E. 1987. 281 pp. tr. Estudios sobre el arte del Renacimiento.. lives together with it in later times. ______. Delos. and subdividing the whole to create the parts on the other”. Tapia Zúñiga. Xenophon. Ensayo sobre los valores en la historia y el arte. P.C. 530 pp. 537 pp. García Bacca. Memorabilia and Oeconomicus. Nonetheless. University of Texas. And it seems that the way modules in the fifth century practice tended to be selected with proportional harmony in mind also reconciles a perceived opposition between the design principles of adding the parts to create the whole on the one hand. Jane B. Paola Vianello. ______.

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