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CARYA´TIDES is the name commonly given to female figures used in place of columns as the supports of an entablature. This was not the only or even the usual meaning of the word in ancient times. Thus the Caryatids made by Callimachus (Brunn, Künstlergesch. 1.251; Plin. Nat. 34.92, “Saltantes Lacaenae” ), by Praxiteles (Plin. Nat. 36.23), and for the Pantheon by Diogenes (Plin. Nat. 36.38; Overbeck, Gesch. d. Gr. Pl. 2.380) were probably maidens executing the dance in honour of Artemis Caryatis, though by a misapprehension those of Callimachus have been by some identified with the figures supporting the portico of the Pandroseum at Athens (Rangabé, Rev. Arch. 2.425), and those of Diogenes with similar figures now extant in Rome. The maidens of the Pandroseum are called simply κόραι in contemporary records (C. I. G. 160); the word Caryatis in this application is found, however, in Lynceus (ap. Ath. 6.241 e), a writer of about 300 B.C., and in Vitruvius (1.1). The traditional story refers their introduction to retaliation on the people of Caryae by the Greeks, at the same time as a portico was erected at Delphi, supported by figures of Persians. Others suggest that these Caryatides may be derived from maidens, perhaps Canephori, in the service of Artemis Caryatis.

It will be as well to include under this head also Atlantes and Telamones, the names given by the Greeks and Romans to male figures similarly applied in architecture ( “bearers,” from Τλάω).

Caryatid from the Pandroseum (Erechtheum) at Athens. (From Fergusson.)

Several specimens of Caryatides and similar figures are still extant. The most important, and also probably the and also probably the earliest, tare the six maidens (one now in the British Museum) who support the portico of the Pandroseum (Erechtheum) at Athens (408 B.C.). At Cambridge there is part of a colossal Caryatid from Eleusis, probably dating from the time of Demetrius Phalereus (317-307 B.C.). In the temple of Zeus at Agrigentum, Giants, as Atlantes, take the place of square pilasters within the cella. This temple probably dates from the beginning of the 5th century. In the Braccio Nuovo of the Vatican and in the Palazzo Giustiniani at Rome are Caryatids found near the Pantheon; these are imitated from those of the Pandroseum. Others are preserved in the Villa Albani, in the Glyptothek at Munich, and elsewhere. Satyrs and Sileni, who had served as supports to entablatures, have been found near the scena of the theatre of Dionysus at Athens. At Pompeii was discovered a relief representing Caryatids; but the inscription on it, τῆ Ἑλλάδι τὸ τρόπαιον ἐστάθη κατανικηθέντων τῶν Καρυατῶν, is probably forged.

From these examples we may learn the characteristics of this class of architectural figures. They naturally fall into two divisions, of each of which we have representative specimens in the maidens of the Pandroseum and the Giants of Agrigentum respectively. The former are regarded as the willing performers of an honourable service, while the latter are vanquished enemies compelled to a laborious task; and therefore in the two cases we have very different treatment. The burden of the maidens of the Pandroseum is lightened by the omission of the frieze from the entablature, and what they support is only a portico. An explanation of their service is suggested by their assimilation to the Canephori, or basket-bearers, who held an honourable place in the Panathenaic procession. Too sudden a transition from the architrave to the human figure is avoided by the sloping sides of the basket-capital; the neck is strengthened by a careful arrangement of the hair. Their position is one of ease and firmness, and their weight rests in each case upon one leg: thus is gained an appearance of elasticity and also of reserve power. This supporting leg is also in each case that towards the outside of the building, and the apparent concentration of pressure thus produced gives additional stability to the general effect. Other means are taken to emphasise the similarity of the human figure to a column: thus the swelling of the body at the hips corresponds to an entasis, and the treatment of the drapery in regular parallel folds recalls flutings. In other respects, also, the drapery of these and other Caryatids calls for notice: we often find a broad mantle hanging down the back from two brooches on the shoulders, a garment used also by Canephori in the Caryatid from Eleusis there are also fastened to the same two brooches straps which cross on the breast, with a Gorgoneion at their place of crossing. This whole scheme recurs on some Canephori in the Villa Albani. In the best examples of Caryatids the arms hang freely at the sides; but in some cases one hand supports the basket on their heads.

In the second class of such figures--the Giants of Agrigentum, for instance, figured under ATLANTES--the treatment is quite different. Here the weight borne is emphasised rather than lightened, and no drapery conceals the muscular strain. But a slight archaicism of execution, especially in the faces, prevents this strain from being too painful to the spectator. These Giants [p. 1.369]stand firmly on both feet, with their backs against the cella-wall, and raise both arms to bear part of the weight that rests on their heads. But such figures as these do not lend themselves to architectural treatment so easily as draped Caryatids. Hence their characteristics hardly require so much notice.

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