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Mythology in Art

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MYTHOLOGY IN ART. That portion of art which is concerned with the representation of mythological concepts. Religious notions are :-.1111.01ized at a very early stage in the history of inall kind. Conceptions which can be given in ague and poetic terms in the must of necessity in art be represented concretely. The first beginnings are rude and uncouth; yet they develop in the course of time into the most beau tiful of all expressions of national art. They are thus important not only from the point of view of history of art, but as one of the main sources for an accurate knowledge of the history of re ligion. We may trace in them also in many cases the influence which one religion has exercised upon another. lf, for instance. we find the bearded figure within a circle as the Iranian sym bol of ormazd, and in Assyrian sculpture see the same figure hovering over a field of battle, it is at once evident that the religious art of Assyria has influenced that of ancient Persia, and the implication follows that the actual concept of the deity of Ormazd has been modified by a Semitic deity.

Nowhere are the distinct national characteris ties of mythology so clearly set forth as in art. In the Egyptian paintings and statues of deities, We have the stiff outlines and the grotesque ani mal-headed figures, which stand in marked con trast to the brutal and massive religious art of Assyria and Babylonia. From the point of view of comparative religion the most perfect pro ductions of art are as a rule inferior to the rude and archaic. It might almost he laid down as a rule that the higher the artistic merit. the less the purely religious value. The most important contributions of Assyrian art to a knowledge of its mythology are to be 1411111(1 not in the finished productions of the late period, hut in the more ancient seal-cylinders, whose purely artistic merit is often slight. In Greece, in like manner, the early religious art is rude, hut here we find in the periods traces of influence from Egypt. or again, as in certain pictures of the

struggle of Hercules with the Nemenn lion, an analogue too close to be accidental with Baby lonian pictures of the Gilgamish cycle. Though the highest religious sentiments of a people at a given period are embodied in its art, the endeavor to make this embodiment perfect tends in the course of time to an increased purity in the type and symbolization of religious concept. 'rids in teracting process is stimulated by the fact that the ',tame or the painting is conceived to be in it self divine, and at later period a portion of god hood ; later still it is a symbol which may indeed be a god to the vulgar. but to the cultured or to the initiated is but a representation of divinity. Art istie conceptions of divinities naturally var?, aeeording to the character of the god represented. Thus in ancient 'Mexico we find beside the figure of the beneficent Quetzacoatl the horrible statue of the wargod Iluitzilopoehtli, on whose altar human sacrifices NN cre offered. If the religious art of Mexico is rugged. that of India is effem inate In India again, in harmony with t he tesque religious legends. we fund strange divine figures. The monkey-god Hamlin:in. in harmony with his emerge tic character, has 110 touch of the effeminate about him. as has the love-god Kama. and in like manner we find the voluptuous fooire of Parvati. the wife of Siva, in her kindly aspect. beside the fright fill and demoniac figure of Durga, the malignant form of the same goddess. In Greece, where mythology ill art was developed to its utmost perfeetiou, we lin& this principle carried out in its entirety. Beside the austere Aflame stands the seductive Aphrodite; with the powerful Ilercules is contrasted the delicate, al most too beautiful Apollo, and over all the Pan theon towers the majestic figure of Zeus. See Ala. HISTORY OF: and the various on National Art as well as the plates of EGYPTIAN DEITIES, HINDU DEITIES under lmiiA; GREEK ART; JUPITER; LYSIPPUS; PARTHENON.