PITIDIAS, in biography, an Athenian, the most celebrated sculptor of antiquity. 1Iis distinguishing character was grandeur and sublimity ; and he particularly studied optical effect. To this purpose it is related, that having, in compeĽ tition with Alcamenes, made a statue of Minerva to be placed on a column ; the work of the latter appeared so finished when viewed on the ground, that it was universally admired, whilst that of Phidias seemed to be a mere rough sketch ; but when both were seen from their destined situa tions, the beauties of the first were lost, while the second produced the most striking effect. After the battle of Marathon, he converted a block of marble, which the Per sians had brought for a trophy of their expected victory, into a fine statue of Nemesis, the goddess of Vengeance. His reputation was so high at Athens, that Pericles regarded him as his particular friend, and appointed him superin tendent of all the public edifices with which that city was decorated. One of his greatest performances was a colossal statue of Minerva, in the temple called Parthenon. In this work he displayed his skill in minute sculpture, no less than his grandeur of conception in the main figure. On the con vexity of the goddess's shield was represented the battle of the Amazons, and on its concave surface the combat of the gods with the giants; whilst tier slippers were adorned with the fight of the Centaurs and Lapithte. On her breastplate
was a Medusa's head. The base contained the birth of Pandora, with twenty figures of the gods. He is said to have been the first who brought the bas-relief to perfection. His fame and fortune excited envy, and several accusations were brought against him, which he was enabled to repel. At length, he was charged with having introduced the por traits of himself and Pericles in the battle of the Amazons; and this being regarded as a kind of profanation, he was thrown into prison, where, according to Plutarch, he died. Others, however, affirm, that he escaped to Elis, where he afterwards executed his Olympian Jupiter, the most remark able piece of sculpture in all antiquity. It was a colossal statue, sixty feet high, of incomparable majesty and dignity in its attitude and expression. The name of the artist was engraved on the base. The Eleans, in gratitude for this extraordinary work, settled upon Ids descendants a perpetual office, the sole duty of which was to preserve the lustre of the statue.