Scopas

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Scopas

Fourth Century b.c.e.

Architect and sculptor

Sources

Divinities. Scopas was an architect and sculptor from Paros who worked mostly in marble. Famous for his statues of divinities, he sculpted Aphrodite and a personification of Longing (Pothos) for her shrine at Samothrace and again for her temple at Megara, where he also made an image of Erôs and a personification of Desire (Himeros). Pliny tells us his most renowned works were sculptures in a temple of Poseidon, later brought to Rome, which featured the god, Thetis, Achilles, dolphins, and minor sea dieties. He made a colossal, seated Ares, which was later moved to the Circus Maximus, as was another Aphrodite sculpted by him which Pliny considered superior to Praxiteles’ version. Images of Apollo Smintheus (the mouse-god), Artemis, and Athena were also among his well-known works commissioned for areas as far apart as Asia Minor and Thebes. He worked on column drums for the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, and the sculptures on the east side of the Mausoleum along with other leading sculptors of his day. His new design for the Doric temple of Athena at Tegea in Arcadia, after the original burned down in 395, was considered by Pausanias to be the best Peloponnesian temple. Its interior combined Ionic and Corinthian orders and the external colonnade was Doric; its front pedimental sculptures depicted the Calydonian Boar Hunt, while the fight between Achilles and Telephus was on the rear pediment. Fragments of these that have been found are generally thought to reflect his emotive style, if not coming from his own hand. It is also possible that certain frescoes from the fourth century, such as those found at the royal tomb at Vergina, reflect something of his sculptural style. Scopas produced a maenad which was famous in antiquity for its expressive energy and liveliness; a statue of a raving maenad in Dresden is often taken to be a copy, or at least derived from Scopas’s original.

Sources

Franciscus Junius, The Literature of Classical Art, 2 volumes, edited and translated by Keith Aldrich, Philipp Fehl, and Raina Fehl (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991).

J. J. Pollitt, The Art of Ancient Greece: Sources and Documents (Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990).