478 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
sea from the classical and splendid brow of Athens.
Now was finished the ERECHTHEUM, the great Ionic shrine of the gods of the people. On the
site of the ancient temple of Athene the architect Ictinus erected the magical PARTHENON,
the ideal of Doric grandeur, which the genius of Phidias adorned with a wealth of art
never equaled before or afterwards. The PROPYLJEA were built by Mnesicles--beautiful
colonnades surmounting broad flights of marble steps by which the Acropolis was ascended.
The AGE or PERICLES was the climax of Grecian architecture. The Peloponnesian war and the
wild career of the democracy in Athens were unfavorable to further development, even if
further development had been possible. The same great age witnessed also the highest
achievements of the chisel and the brush. The art of the painter followed that of the
builder. Unfortunately for the world the work of the former was less substantial than that
of the latter. Not a single piece of Greek painting belonging to the period of development
and greatest excellence has been preserved, unless indeed the traditions and reproductions
of the Roman artists should be honored with the name of preservation. The masterpieces of
Plynotus, of Zeuxis, of Apelles have sunk into oblivion; only their imperishable fame,
transmitted by the foreign robbers who despoiled Greece of her treasures, has remained of
what were doubtless the greatest achievements of the human genius displaying its powers on
canvas. All that we can ever hope for is to see faintly reflected in the painting of
Herculaneum and Pompeii the borrowed glories of the pencils of the Greeks.
We are not, however, left wholly in the dark as to the actual power of the Grecian
painters in the adaptation of color and design. Though every canvas of the great masters
has perished, there yet remain the decorated vases of Athens and Corinth. From these we
are able to determine with some degree of satisfaction and within the narrow limits of
decorative art the skill in color and design displayed by the artists, or more properly
the handicraftsmen, of Greece. In these works, we see, as in other branches of the
industry of genius, a gradual development from the mere linear decoration of the primitive
pottery to the highly artistic designs of the classical period, when the figures of