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DOI 10.

1515/tc-2013-0017 TC 2013; 5(2): 318340

Casper C. de Jonge
The Faulty Colossus and Platos Phaedrus
Abstract: Longinus, On the Sublime36.3 responds to the writer who argued that
the faulty colossus is not better than Polyclitus Doryphorus. This passage raises
several questions: who is the writer to whom Longinus responds? How should
we understand Longinus complex reply? And which ancient statue is the colos-
sus in this comparison? This article offers an interpretation of the passage in
its context, and re-examines the identifications of the colossus that have been
proposed so far: the Colossus of Rhodes, the Colossus of Nero, and Phidias statue
of Zeus in Olympia. Having argued that none of these statues is a satisfactory
candidate for Longinus faulty colossus, this article asserts that the comparison
between the colossus and the Doryphorus was introduced in a critical discussion
of the styles of Plato and Lysias: Plato is a sublime writer whose excessive use
of metaphors comes with occasional mistakes, whereas Lysias is the model of
faultless accuracy. The context strongly suggests that Longinus36.3 responds to
the Augustan critic Caecilius of Caleacte, who claimed that Lysias is altogether
superior to Plato (Longinus32.8). Such ancient comparisons between Lysias and
Plato were provoked by Socrates criticism of Lysias in Platos Phaedrus, which
suggests a solution to our problem. In his praise of Socrates oratory Phaedrus
mentions a statue in Olympia, which we may identify as the faulty colossus: it
is the famous colossus of Zeus, an archaic statue of hammered gold, dedicated
by the Cypselids. The fact that Augustan critics describe Platos sublime style as
archaic or old-fashioned supports this new interpretation.

Keywords: Longinus, On the Sublime, Caecilius of Caleacte, Plato, Phaedrus,

Lysias, Polyclitus, sculpture, statues, style, literary criticism.

Casper C. de Jonge: Leiden University, Classics Department, E-Mail:

This article proposes a new identification of the colossus mentioned in On the

Sublime36.3. Longinus (as I will call the anonymous author) replies to the writer
who has argued that the faulty colossus is not better than the Doryphorus of

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Longinus 36.3: The Faulty Colossus and Platos Phaedrus 319

, , , .

In reply, however, to the writer who claims that the faulty colossus is not better than the
Doryphorus of Polyclitus, many obvious points can be made. For one thing, we admire accu-
racy in art, but grandeur in the works of nature; and it is nature that has given man the
power of using words. And in statues we look for resemblance to a man, but in literature,
as I said before, we look for something that elevates the human. (trans. adapted from Fyfe
and Russell 1999)

This passage comes near the end of an eloquent digression on genius and medioc-
rity (32.836.4), which forms the response to an audacious claim by the Augustan
critic Caecilius of Caleacte: In his work On Lysias Caecilius had the boldness
to declare that Lysias is altogether superior to Plato. According to Longinus,
Caecilius preferred Lysias on the ground that he was faultless ()
and immaculate (), whereas he found that Plato was full of mistakes
(). More specifically, Caecilius seems to have criticized Platos
immoderate use of metaphor (see 32.78, discussed below). Longinus himself on
the other hand believes that the abundant employment of metaphor can produce
sublimity (32.6), although it is a tricky business. Only great natures dare to run
such risks, whereas mediocre writers remain safe from error. Longinus prefers
grandeur flawed in some respects ( ) to success
that is moderate but altogether sound () and free from error ()
(33.1). He admires the divine Plato, in spite of his mistakes, for the greatest natures
are least immaculate (). Perfect precision ( ) runs the risk of triv-
iality, whereas in great writing as in great wealth there must needs be something
overlooked (33.2). The keywords throughout the digression are (pure)
and (precise) on the one hand, and (mistakes) and
(grandeur) on the other.
In this context, Longinus (36.3) enters into polemics with the writer ()
who had claimed that the faulty colossus was not better than Polyclitus Doryphorus.
The immediate context of Longinus discussion strongly suggests that the writers
claim about the two statues served to illustrate his critical evaluation of two clas-
sical authors, who represented two different styles of writing. Given the preceding

1 Longinus 32.8 = Caecilius of Caleacte fr. 150 Ofenloch = fr. 28 Augello:

. On
Caecilius and Longinus and their literary models, see Innes 2002, 25984.

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320 Casper C. de Jonge

discussion about the relative merits of flawed grandeur and faultless mediocrity,
the writers claim in all probability served to support his view that Plato (a verbal
colossus) was not better than Lysias (a Doryphorus of words). That was, as we
have seen, precisely the position that Caecilius of Caleacte adopted in his work
On Lysias. Therefore many interpreters conclude that the writer ( )
in 36.3 is to be identified as Caecilius. This is a plausible identification, as we
will see. It is certainly possible that the Augustan critic presented a
(comparison) between the Doryphorus and the colossus, for analogies between
oratory and sculpture were very common in the literary criticism of his time, as
we can judge from the works of Caecilius contemporary colleague Dionysius of
Halicarnassus. Such a comparison between two statues could have served to
support Caecilius evaluation of Lysias and Plato in his On Lysias. And it would
certainly be no surprise if Caecilius, one of the proponents of Greek Atticism, had
argued for the superiority of Polyclitus statue, which was widely considered to be
the canon of precision and perfect proportions.
Before we consider the identity of the colossus, let us examine how
Longinus (36.3) responds to the claim of Caecilius (if he is indeed the writer)
that the faulty colossus is not better than Polyclitus Doryphorus. At first glance,
Longinus seems to reject the validity of the analogy between sculpture and words
altogether: we admire accuracy in art (), he says, but grandeur in the
works of nature ( ) and since man uses words by nature
(), literature aims to elevate the human to a superhuman level. Statues
(), on the other hand, which belong to the realm of art (), aim
to produce an accurate representation of human being. Longinus use of the

2 Longinus36.3 = Caecilius of Caleacte fr. 151 Ofenloch (not included in Augello 2006). See Jahn
1867, 239; Wilamowitz 1889, 334: Caecilius also hat dem Doryphoros, dem Kanon, einen Kolo
entgegengesetzt; Russell 1964, 169: L may mean Caecilius (but contrast his reservations at 58);
Merkelbach 1997, 82 n. 1; Mazzucchi, 2010, 272.
3 Dion. Hal. Isoc. 3.57 compares Isocrates to Phidias and Polyclitus, and Lysias to Calamis and
Callimachus. See further Dion. Hal. Dem. 50.45; Thuc. 4.2; Demetr. Eloc. 14; Cic. Brut. 70, Orat. 5;
Quint. 12.10.19. More examples in Pollitt 1974, 5863.
4 After Polyclitus had written his theoretical treatise entitled Canon, he made a statue that ex-
emplified his principles, and he called this statue Canon as well (Galen, De placitis Hippocratis
et Platonis5.3.1516). This Canon may have been no other statue than the Doryphorus: cf. Plin.
HN34.55, but the text is uncertain. On Caecilius and Atticism, see Innes 2002, 263 n. 15. Caecilius
wrote a work How does the Attic Style differ from the Asian.
5 Cf. Russell 1964, 169: L denies that sculpture provides a valid analogy.
6 Some scholars have expressed their surprise at Longinus argument: see esp. Hoogland
1936, 143. For an interpretation of Longinus argument in Peripatetic terms, see Mazzucchi 2010,

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Longinus 36.3: The Faulty Colossus and Platos Phaedrus 321

word in this passage should be noted: this Greek term usually refers to
the statue of a man (), whereas a statue of a god is normally called .
Hence, Longinus seems to employ the etymology of the word itself
to support his argument that statues aim to represent the human, unlike lit-
erature, which strives for superhuman sublimity: n the case of statues (
) we look for that which resembles a human being (),
whereas in the case of words () we look for something greater than
human. Polyclitus Doryphorus represented a man with a spear, and it was
famous for showing the perfect proportions of the human body. As an accurate
and realistic representation of a human being the colossus (whichever it was)
was apparently less successful than the Doryphorus but the point might be
precisely that the colossus was the statue of a god, not a man.
Longinus refutation of Caecilius analogy focuses on the difference between
sculpture, the artistic representation of a human being, and literature, which
aims to elevate the human to the level of the sublime. The gist of his argument,
then, is that the comparison between the two statues does not tell us anything
about stylistic writing: even if we accept that the Doryphorus is superior to the
faulty colossus, this would not make Lysias superior to Plato. But does Longinus
actually accept his opponents proposition that the Doryphorus was superior to
the faulty colossus?
Longinus introduces his response to the argument of his opponent with the
words , in addition to many other things, one
obvious answer is (). These words suggest that Longinus could invalidate
Caecilius analogy in various ways. One obvious answer, as Longinus says, is
to point out that there is a difference between art () and nature, between
statues and writing. But in what other ways could Longinus refute the compari-
son? A possible response would be simply to deny Caecilius claim about statues:
Longinus could have argued that the faulty colossus is indeed better than the
Doryphorus, and he may be hinting at this possibility with the words
(in addition to many other things). According to this interpretation, Longinus
would, even if the same rules applied to sculpture as to literature (which he con-
tests), still disagree with Caecilius, as he would prefer the faulty colossus to the
accurate statue of a man ().
Apart from the reference to the many answers that Longinus could offer
there is another indication in the text that seems to support this reading.
Longinus quotes the writer as saying that the faulty colossus was not better
( ) than the Doryphorus. The formulation not better (rather than
worse) is remarkable. It seems to reveal Longinus own opinion about the two
statues: in referring to the man who writes that the faulty colossus is not better
than the Doryphorus, then, Longinus is implying that he himself disagrees with

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322 Casper C. de Jonge

this view. The use of the negation , according to this interpretation, signals
a contrast between Caecilius and Longinus: unlike Caecilius, Longinus believes
that the faulty colossus is in fact a better statue than the Doryphorus, even if his
subsequent response focuses on the fact that art and literature are different. If it
is true that Longinus disagrees with Caecilius judgement of the flawed colossus,
this is of course relevant to our search for the identity of that statue.
Which colossus did Caecilius contrast with the Doryphorus? Three candi-
dates have been suggested: the Colossus of Rhodes, which was built in the early
third century B.C. and hit by an earthquake in 226B.C.; the enormous statue of
Nero which was erected at the Domus Aurea in Rome in A.D. 64; and the statue of
Zeus by Phidias in Olympia, which was placed in the temple of Zeus in 432B.C.
A further option, favoured by some scholars, is that Longinus does not refer to a
specific statue, but to any colossal statue with imperfect proportions. Finally,
some readers believe that Longinus does refer to one specific statue, which,
however, we are not able to identify anymore.
The opposition with Polyclitus Doryphorus and the use of the definite article
in the formulation (the colossus that is faulty) cer-
tainly make it more plausible that we must think of one specific colossus rather
than any unspecified statue of great size. But there are serious objections against
all candidates mentioned so far.
Traditionally, interpreters have assumed that Longinus and his opponent
refer to the Colossus of Rhodes, which was made by Chares of Lindos. Having
been erected between 292 and 280B.C., this bronze statue of Helios broke at the

7 Porter 2006, 348 points out that Longinus appears to be obscurely favoring the grandeur of
the failed Colossus.
8 E.g. Lebgue 1939, 52: Le Colosse manqu est () sans doute le clbre statue, lev Rhodes
par Chars de Lindos et consacr au Soleil. Fyfe and Russell 19992, 279 n.: Perhaps the Colossus
of Rhodes. Porter 2006, 348: the failed Colossus (possibly that of Rhodes, 36.3); Porter 2010,
491: Longinus comparison between the Doryphorus of Polyclitus and the failed Colossus of
Rhodes is entirely apt.
9 Buchenau 1849, 345; Marx 1898, 178: konnte wohl nur der berhmte Koloss des
Nero genannt werden.
10 Wilamowitz 1899; cf. Merkelbach 1997, 813.
11 Kaibel 1899, 131: ein Coloss der Fehler hat; Mazzucchi 2010, 272 also thinks of gigantic stat-
ues in general, as his use of the plural indicates: limmagine delle imprecise ()
statue colossali.
12 Jahn 1867, 239; Hoogland 1936, 143; Russell 1964, 169.
13 Jahn 1867, 239.
14 The main sources are Plin. HN34.41 and pseudo-Philo of Byzantium, Mir. For a discussion,
see Mayron 1956 and Hoepfner 2003.

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Longinus 36.3: The Faulty Colossus and Platos Phaedrus 323

knees in 226B.C. Its enormous remains, which lay on the ground for hundreds of
years, still impressed visitors in the Augustan period (Strabo14.2.5, 652C.). Our
knowledge of this statue and its style, however, casts serious doubts on the iden-
tification of the colossus in Longinus36.3 with the Colossus of Rhodes. The sculp-
tor Chares was known as a pupil of Lysippus, who was famous for the excellent
finish of his work. Pliny praises Lysippus for the minute finish maintained in
even the smallest details. One should expect that the work of Chares shared
the quality of his masters statues, at least to some extent; and more generally
we may assume that Chares, since he was active in the early Hellenistic period,
devoted much attention to balance, stylistic elegance and detailed proportion.
It seems therefore implausible that the Colossus of Rhodes could be criticized
as lacking in accuracy ( ), and scholars have indeed pointed
out that there would be no reason to describe the Colossus of Rhodes as flawed
(). The emendation that has been proposed in order to resolve this
problem ( , by Chares, for ) should be rejected, because
it ignores the importance of the word throughout Longinus digres-
sion on genius and mediocrity (see 32.8, 33.1). Both Plato and the colossus are
faulty or full of mistakes and it is on this ground that Caecilius preferred
the two models of immaculacy, Lysias and the Doryphorus. In short, his argu-
ment requires that the colossus in Longinus 36.3 contained obvious faults
(). The Colossus of Rhodes would not fit the bill.
Looking for a colossus that could be described as , scholars
have proposed the Colossus of Nero, which was designed by Zenodorus between
A.D. 64 and 68. After Neros death, Vespasian changed its name into Colossus
of the Sun, and Hadrian moved the statue from the Domus Aurea to the Flavian
Amphitheatre. According to Pliny (HN 34.46), this statue showed that skill in

15 Mayron 1956, 86. Plin. HN34.41: Lysippi discipulus.

16 Plin. HN34.65: argutiae operum custoditae in minimis quoque rebus. Trans. Rackham. Plin.
HN34.612 reports that the Romans were very fond of Lysippus Apoxyomenos (Scraper), which
Marcus Agrippa had placed in front of his Baths. Tiberius fell in love with the statue and relo-
cated it to his own bedroom. After a loud protest in the theatre, Tiberius was forced to place it
17 Buchenau 1849, 345; Jahn 1867, 238; Russell 1964, 169: is difficult on this view.
18 Wolters conjecture is considered by Russell 1964, 169.
19 Buchenau 1849, 345; Marx 1898, 1778. It is true that in some ancient sources the term
(or colossus) is apparently sufficient as a reference to the Colossus of Nero, but in all
cases the context makes it clear that no other colossus could be meant: Suet. Vesp. 18; SHA Hadr.
19.1213; Cass. Dio72.22.3.

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324 Casper C. de Jonge

bronze-founding had perished (interisse fundendi aeris scientiam). It has been

argued that Plinys disqualifying remark about Neros Colossus agrees with
Longinus description of the colossus as faulty (). However, Pliny
is talking about a technical problem in the casting of bronze, for which the sculp-
tor was not responsible: Zenodorus himself was counted inferior to none of
the artists of old in his knowledge of modelling and chasing (HN34.46). When
Caecilius contrasts his faulty colossus with the Doryphorus, he must be thinking
of errors in proportion, balance or precision: unlike the Doryphorus, the colos-
sus did not accurately resemble a human being (cf. Longinus 36.3:
). The problems of Neros Colossus mentioned by Pliny, however, seem
to have been of a different kind.
There is another argument that makes it unlikely that the faulty colossus
in Longinus36.3 is to be identified as Neros Colossus. As we have seen, many
scholars believe that the writer ( ) who expressed a preference for the
Doryphorus was the Augustan critic Caecilius of Caleacte, who could not have
seen a statue erected in A.D. 64. Although we cannot be entirely certain, it is
indeed very plausible that the writer is to be identified as Caecilius, not just
because Longinus attacks this critic throughout his work, but especially because
36.34 forms the closure of the digression on flawed genius and faultless medi-
ocrity (32.836.4), which is triggered in the first instance by Caecilius preference
for Lysias over Plato (see 32.8 and 35.1). The entire digression has a polemical
character, including the comparison between Demosthenes and Hyperides (34),
which just like the one between Plato and Lysias can be read as a response to
Atticist ideals. It is likely that Longinus completes his digression on genius and
mediocrity as he started it (32.8), that is, with a reference to the views of Caecilius
that he is attacking. For various reasons, then, it is unlikely that the colossus in
Longinus36.3 is the Colossus of Nero.
Wilamowitz suggested a third candidate: Phidias famous Zeus was a
seated statue, which was placed in the temple of Zeus in Olympia in c. 432B.C.
Many ancient authors (including critics and rhetoricians) present Phidias as the

20 Cf. HN34.47: aeris obliteratio (the forgetting of the art of working bronze).
21 Cf. Jahn 1867, 239.
22 See the literature in n. 2. Add Rhys Roberts 1899, 222; Ofenloch 1907, 134:
neminem alium nisi Caecilium esse omnes consentiunt. On the polemics between Longinus and
Caecilius, see Innes 2002.
23 Wilamowitz 1899 (reprinted in Wilamowitz 1971); cf. Merkelbach 1997. Russell 1964, 169 is
cautiously positive about Wilamowitzs interpretation. See also Pothecary 2005, 22.

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Longinus 36.3: The Faulty Colossus and Platos Phaedrus 325

climax of classical sculpture. When Strabo (8.6.10, 372C.) compares the art of
Polyclitus and Phidias, he concludes that the images by Polyclitus are in execu-
tion the most beautiful in the world, but in costliness and size inferior to those
of Phidias ( ,
). In a similar comparison, Quintilian (12.10.78) emphasizes
the grandeur of Phidias statues: Polyclitus excels in precision of detail and
grace (diligentia ac decor), but people think that his work lacks dignity (pondus),
which is needed for representing the authority of the gods: that quality is found
in Phidias and Alcamenes. The words and pondus in these texts certainly
imply more than physical size and weight alone: they suggest the same divine
grandeur that Longinus associates with sublimity.
Concerning Phidias statue of Zeus in Olympia, Strabo (8.3.30, 353C.) tells
us that Phidias is thought to have missed the due proportions (
), for he showed Zeus seated but almost touching the roof with his
head, thus making the impression that if Zeus arose and stood erect he would
unroof the temple. Wilamowitz (followed by Merkelbach and Pothecary)
argued that Strabos criticism corresponds to that of Caecilius the writer in
Longinus36.3 , and concluded that the faulty colossus should be identified
as Phidias Zeus. Strabo, who describes his own work as a (1.1.23,
14C.: a colossal statue of a work), also mentions the fact that the Hellenistic
poet Callimachus listed the measurements ( ) of Phidias Zeus in an
iambic poem. Wilamowitz and Merkelbach therefore suggest that Callimachus
(fr. 196 Pfeiffer) was the first one to criticize the scale and proportions of Phidias

24 See Pollitt 1974, 61: All of our rhetorical sources, both Greek and Roman, have at least one
common thought running through them that the art of Phidias represents the supreme achieve-
ment of Greek sculpture and that the most perfect rhetoric of the past should be compared to
Phidias in its grandeur and perfection. Cic. Orat. 5 mentions Phidias Zeus and Polyclitus
Doryphorus in one breath. Dion. Hal. Isoc. 3.57 praises both Polyclitus and Phidias for their
grandeur, virtuosity and dignity ( ), which he as-
sociates with Isocratean sublimity (). Demetrius (On Style14) states that the work of Phidias
combines grandeur and finish ( ).
25 In her interpretation of this passage, Pothecary 2005, 22 concludes that Strabo prefers the
grandeur of Phidias to the art of Polyclitus.
26 On grandeur () and sublimity () in Longinus, see Russell 1964, xxxi n. 7: In L
and its cognates are often simply synonyms of the words (e.g. 3.4, 8.4, 15.1) but in
some contexts (11.2, 12 on ) they represent a wider concept. On the superhuman charac-
ter of the sublime in Longinus and Dionysius, see De Jonge 2012.
27 Trans. Jones, slightly adapted. On Strabos interest in kolossoi and the connections between
Strabo, Caecilius and Longinus, see Pothecary 2005.
28 See literature in n. 23.

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326 Casper C. de Jonge

seated colossus. As an Atticist, Caecilius would have agreed with the views of
Although these speculations might seem ingenious in the first instance, it
is in fact unlikely that Phidias Zeus is the flawed colossus in Longinus36.3. As
Russell has pointed out, it would be very strange to refer to the famous statue of
Zeus as the faulty colossus ( ). The ancient sources
on the statue, which have been collected by Davison, consistently refer to it by
naming the god and (in most cases) the artist: the statue is called either Phidias
Zeus, or the Olympian Zeus or the Zeus at Olympia, or, sometimes, Phidias
statue () of Zeus: no single text survives in which it is just called
the colossus, let alone the flawed colossus. Pothecary objects that the Zeus
in Olympia was notorious for lack of proper proportion, as the discussion in
Strabo (8.3.30) would suggest, so that one could indeed refer to this statue as the
faulty colossus. This is, however, an extrapolation of what Strabo actually says.
Nothing was wrong with the image of Zeus itself, but visitors could see a certain
disproportion between the statue and the temple in which it was placed. The
sources collected by Davison do not actually support the view that Phidias Zeus
was famous for its imperfect proportions. The context of Longinus36.3 suggests
that the flawed colossus was a statue with undeniable faults, which were also
recognized by Longinus. Phidias Zeus, however, was not such a faulty colossus.
Russell concludes that the identity of the colossus remains unsolved: it is
safer to confess our ignorance of Ls meaning. We have indeed seen that it is
difficult to accept the statues mentioned so far as the faulty colossus: each of
the statues is problematic in one way or another. We might be able to solve the
problem, however, if we think more closely about the context in which Longinus
reports that his opponent expressed a preference for the Doryphorus. I will argue
that the answer to the riddle could be found in the competition between Lysias and
Plato that lies behind the comparison between the Doryphorus and the colossus.
We have seen that our passage concludes an elaborate digression (32.836.4)
in which Longinus compares faultless mediocrity and flawed genius. The digres-
sion is his ardent response to Caecilius view that Lysias is altogether superior to
Plato (32.8: ). Critics like Caecilius objected to
Platos excessive use of metaphors (32.7): Indeed it is for these passages in partic-

29 Russell 1964, 169.

30 Davison 2009.
31 Pothecary 2005, 22 n. 61.
32 See Davison 2009, 319403.
33 Russell 1964, 169.

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Longinus 36.3: The Faulty Colossus and Platos Phaedrus 327

ular that critics pull Plato to pieces, on the ground that he is often carried away by
a sort of Bacchic possession in his writing into harsh and intemperate metaphor
and allegorical bombast. Longinus cites examples of inappropriate metaphors
in Laws6.733c, where Plato calls water a sober god ( ). This is,
according to Platos critics, the language of a poet who is far from sober (32.7). It
is a common idea in ancient criticism that the disproportionate use of metaphors
or exotic words results in a poetic style that loses the accuracy and clarity of
natural prose.
Faults of this kind (cf. , 32.8) were the object of
Caecilius criticism of Plato, which led him to conclude that Lysias is altogether
superior to Plato. In his polemical response Longinus pokes fun of Caecilius and
disqualifies his judgement as biased: Although Caecilius loves Lysias even better
than himself, yet his hatred for Plato altogether outweighs his love for Lysias.
Longinus subsequent digression (32.836.4) is a passionate plea for Plato and
other genius writers who take risks and, while striving towards sublimity, some-
times make mistakes. It is in this respect that the faultless Lysias differs from the
sublime Plato, but also Apollonius from Homer, Eratosthenes from Archilochus,
Bacchylides from Pindar, and Ion of Chios from Sophocles (33.45). Just before his
reference to the two sculptural models, Longinus points out that (36.2)

each of these great men again and again redeems all his mistakes () by a single
touch of sublimity and true excellence; and, what is finally decisive, if we were to pick out
all the faults () in Homer, Demosthenes and Plato, and all the other greatest
authors and put them together, we should find them a tiny part, not the smallest fraction,
of the true successes to be found everywhere in the work of these heroes. (trans. Fyfe and
Russell 1999)

The starting point for the entire digression is thus Caecilius comparison of Lysias
and Plato, and the discussion of Platos mistakes in his On Lysias. Caecilius
described Plato as faulty (, 32.8, cf. 33.1), the word that is echoed
in the characterization of the colossus as (36.3). Shortly after he

34 Longinus32.7: ,

. Trans. Fyfe and Russell 1999.
35 Longinus 32.8: ,
. Trans. Fyfe and Russell 1999. The contrast between Plato and Lysias re-
mains prominent throughout the digression: see esp. Longinus35.1, where Manutius conjecture
(for ) may, however, be wrong: see Heath 2000.
36 The word is a technical term in stylistic theory. Demetr. Eloc. 114 states that all types of style
have neighbouring faulty styles (, sc. ).

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328 Casper C. de Jonge

has refuted the analogy between sculpture and literature, Longinus returns to the
treatment of metaphors (37.1), Platos abundant use of which was the immediate
motive for the digression on genius and mediocrity. In all its details, therefore,
the context suggests that (1) the writer ( ) had originally introduced
the Doryphorus and the colossus in the context of a comparison between Lysias
and Plato; (2) the writer who did so was Caecilius of Caleacte, presumably in
his work On Lysias; and (3) the Doryphorus stood for the immaculate, well-pro-
portioned Lysias, whereas the faulty colossus represented Plato, a sublime writer
whose grandeur comes with lack of proportion.
The classical text that forms the source of all comparisons between Lysias
and Plato is of course Platos Phaedrus. This dialogue, which seems to have
received special attention from critics in the Augustan period, stages the first
contest between Lysias and Plato, more precisely between a speech on love by
Lysias (as presented by Plato) and two speeches on the same theme by Socrates.
Statues play an interesting role in the discussion of these speeches. Having read
Lysias speech on , Phaedrus asks Socrates what he thinks of the discourse
(234c-d). Socrates first ironically replies that he has joined Phaedrus in divine
frenzy (), and then criticizes the speech for its repetitions: Lysias
said the same thing two or three times in different ways. Socrates claims that he
could himself say other things, different from these and quite as good (
, 235c). Phaedrus enthusiastically embraces the idea that Socrates will give
his own speech, saying other better and no less profuse things than those in the
book ( ). I promise, Phaedrus
adds, just like the nine archons, to set up in Delphi a golden image (
) of equal measure, not of myself only but also of you (235d-e). Phaedrus
here alludes to the oath of the archons in Athens, who on their instalment had
to swear that they would set up a statue () of gold if they transgressed
one of the laws. But unlike the archons, Phaedrus promises to dedicate a statue
not only of himself (as the archons would do according to their customary oath),
but of Socrates as well, apparently as a reward for his oratorical skill. Kathryn
Morgan has persuasively argued that Phaedrus offer to set up a golden statue

37 The double analogy (Lysias: Plato = Doryphorus: Colossus) would thus closely resemble the
analogy between oratory and sculpture in Dion. Hal. Isoc. 3.57: there, Lysias is compared to
Calamis and Callimachus, whereas Isocrates corresponds to Phidias and Polyclitus.
38 For criticism of Phaedrus in the Augustan age, see the stylistic discussion in Dion. Hal. Dem.
57, studied by Hunter 2012, 15184.
39 Translations from Phaedrus are based on Nichols 1998.
40 Cf. Arist., Ath. Pol. 7.1; Plut., Vit. Sol. 25. Cf. De Vries 1969, 77; Yunis 2011, 109.

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Longinus 36.3: The Faulty Colossus and Platos Phaedrus 329

of Socrates in Delphi alludes to the golden statue of Gorgias in the same place.
Pausanias reports to have seen this famous monument of classical oratory, and
Athenaeus tells us that Plato himself criticised the golden Gorgias. Phaedrus
admiration for powerful oratory is thus not only reflected in his enthusiasm for
Lysias speech, but also in his offer of a golden statue, through which he implic-
itly compares Socrates to Gorgias.
Socrates initial answer (235e) adds an ironic twist to Phaedrus promise of a
golden statue: You are a darling and truly golden (), Phaedrus, if you
think I mean that Lysias has failed () in every respect. Some of the
arguments in Lysias speech are inevitable and should be taken over, Socrates
argues. In particular, in arguing that one must gratify the non-lover rather than
the lover, one could not omit praise of the non-lovers prudence and blame of the
lovers folly. Phaedrus allows Socrates to take over these arguments from Lysias,
and then reformulates his promise of a statue (236b), which he will now place,
not in Delphi, but in Olympia:


() and if you [Socrates] speak on the remaining matters other things more copious and
worth more than the arguments in Lysias speech, be stood up wrought with the hammer
in Olympia next to the dedication of the Cypselids. (trans. based on Nichols Jr 1998 and
Yunis 2011)

Phaedrus statue for Socrates has changed places from Delphi to Olympia, but
it consistently places Socrates on one level with the orator Gorgias. Just as in
Delphi, there was a statue of Gorgias also in Olympia, which celebrated his
as the best method for training the human soul. Impressed as Phaedrus is by the
rhetorical skills of Lysias and Gorgias, he associates Socrates (who is just about
to begin his own speech) with a statue of Gorgias. His specific remark about the
spatial context of Socrates future statue in Olympia adds a further dimension to
this association between Socrates and Gorgias, which will be especially relevant
to our search for the faulty colossus: Socrates statue is to be erected next to the
dedication of the Cypselids. This dedication was an archaic statue of Zeus, made
of hammered gold. The word means wrought with the hammer: it

41 Morgan 1994, 37592.

42 Paus. 10.18.7; Ath. 11.505d-e.
43 Paus. 6.17.78. For the inscription on the base, which has been preserved, see Hansen 1989,
no. 830; Morgan 1994, 3789.

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330 Casper C. de Jonge

indicates the technique of hammering as opposed to casting metal. A sphyre-

laton statue consisted of a wooden core, which was covered by hammered sheets
of gold. A direct colleague of the golden Zeus is the golden bowl (phiale) from
Olympia (Boston MFA 21.1843), which, according to the Corinthian inscription,
was dedicated to Zeus by the Cypselid family just like the statue.
Phaedrus promises to set up a statue for Socrates that could stand compari-
son with the archaic statue of Zeus, dedicated by Cypselus and his son Periander,
the tyrants who ruled Corinth in the seventh and early sixth century B.C. This
statue had obvious connotations of grandeur, as Yunis points out:

Thus Ph[aedrus] is offering to commemorate S[ocrates], if he can outdo Lysias, with the
grandeur of an archaic tyrant in the very heart of the Hellenic competitive world.

The dedication of the Cypselids in Olympia seems to have been a famous statue:
it is mentioned in many ancient sources, including (apart from Plato) Aristotle,
Theophrastus, Strabo, Plutarch and Pausanias. In our search for the flawed
colossus in Longinus 36.3, we have now identified a statue that is (1) directly
associated with Plato, (2) mentioned in the context of a competition with Lysias,
and (3) well-known in the Greek world for its grandeur. Besides, we have seen
that Phaedrus implicitly compares Socrates statue, which will be placed next to
the Cypselid statue of Zeus, with the statues of Gorgias in Olympia and Delphi,
two monuments of rhetoric that can be seen as the archetypical embodiments of
the connection between classical oratory and sculpture.
But there is more. The golden statue of Zeus in Olympia, dedicated by the
Cypselids, was explicitly known as a colossus (): Theophrastus refers to
the statue as the Colossus of the Cypselids, and below I will discuss an epigram

44 On this technique, see Servais 1965, 14474; Thomas 1992, 1014; Yunis 2011, 109. The word
is old: see e.g. Aesch. Sept. 816; Pers. 747.
45 See Jeffery 1990, 119, 1278 and 131 no. 13. Jeffery cautiously dates the phiale c. 625550 B.C.
Paus. 5.17.5 mentions a third expensive dedication of the Cypselids in Olympia: a cedar-wood
chest with figures of ivory and gold. On the Cypselid dedications in Olympia, see Scott 2010, 152.
46 The precise dates of the reign of the Cypselid family are uncertain. It is traditionally believed
that Cypselus ruled from 657 to 627 B.C., his son Periander from 627 to 585 B.C. Either Cypselus or
Periander or both dedicated the statue of Zeus in the old temple of Hera.
47 Yunis 2011, 109.
48 Pl. Phdr. 236b; Arist. Pol. 5.1313b; Arist. [Oec.] 2.1346a-b; Theophr. fr. 609 Fortenbaugh;
Ephorus ap. Diog. Laert. 1.96; Strabo8.3.30 (353C.) and 8.6.20 (378C.); Plut. De Pyth. Or. 13; Paus.
5.2.3; Phot. K 1280; Suda K 2804. For Photius (who also refers to discussions in Apollas, Didymus
and Agaclytus), see Theodoridis 1998, 4689. For Suda, see Adler 1933, 2234. Theocritus, Id.
22.47 ( ) is presumably an allusion to the Cypselid Zeus: see below.

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Longinus 36.3: The Faulty Colossus and Platos Phaedrus 331

that seems to indicate that this statue was proverbially famous for being a colos-
sus. So far, we have ignored the precise meaning of the word , but we
should now briefly consider what the Colossus of Rhodes, the Colossus of Nero, the
Cypselid Zeus and other actually have in common. Benveniste has shown
that originally a could be any statue that represented someone absent
or dead: the connotation of gigantic proportions seems to be a later development,
perhaps due to the famous Colossus of Rhodes. A slightly different interpretation
is offered by Ducat, who distinguishes three connotations of the term : it
is (at least in later sources) a statue of great size, it is a substitute that represents a
god or human being, and it has a certain rigid, immobile character. The Colossus
of the Cypselids was certainly not gigantic like the Colossus of Rhodes, but it was
presumably a relatively large statue. Strabo (8.6.20, 378C.) states that it was a fair-
sized statue of hammered gold ( ). Since
Socrates statue is to be placed next to the Cypselid Zeus, scholars assume that this
had more or less the size of a human being.
An intriguing epigram survives (quoted in Photius and Suda), in which the
statue of Zeus identifies itself as a colossus:


If I am not a golden hammered colossus,

may the family of the Cypselids be destroyed.

49 Theophr. fr. 609 Fortenbaugh: . The same statue is also called

dedication (: Arist. Pol. 1513b), statue (: Strabo 8.6.20, 378C.) and image
(: Paus. 5.2.3).
50 See Benveniste 1932, 11835. Polyb. 5.88 still refers to the Colossus of Rhodes as
, which seems to imply that a colossus is not necessarily large.
51 Ducat 1976, 23951.
52 Servais 1965, 163; Yunis 2011, 109.
53 Page 1981, 3978 (no. XCII) accepts that the original epigram was inscribed on the golden
statue of Zeus in Olympia, and therefore dates the epigram before 582 B.C.
54 In the mss of Photius K 1280 the first line is clearly corrupt:
. Cobet 1860, 4226 restored the witty curse by emending into . Photius further
records an alternative for the first line, which he attributes to Apellas Ponticus:
(I am a solid all-golden colossus). The Suda (K 2804) preserves two
versions of the first line that are rightly considered to be inferior and dependent on Photius:
(an attempt to remove the repetition of ), and
, (which results from misunderstanding of ). See
the excellent discussions in Servais 1965 and Morgan 1994, 3835. The latter scholar concludes
that the original version read (not ).

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332 Casper C. de Jonge

The dedicatory epigram has been convincingly interpreted as a grandiloquent

and tyrannical boast. The tyrants of Corinth proudly informed the Greek world
that they had managed to combine the technique of hammering (in itself a
common method in the archaic period for bronze statues) with real gold (rather
than bronze). This was a golden sphyrelaton of great proportions. It is plausible
that the original epigram was inscribed in the sanctuary in Olympia, where visi-
tors were able to read it. The boast would only make sense if the reader could
compare the text of the epigram with the statue of Zeus: seeing the grandeur of
the golden statue with their own eyes, they would be impressed by the power
of the Corinthian tyrants. The technical term connects the epigram
with the passage in Platos Phaedrus. As Page and Morgan have argued, Platos
use of this term seems to indicate that he knew the original inscription and that
Phaedrus words (236b) allude
to the text of the epigram.
More allusions to the same epigram survive in Theognis and Theocritus.
Theognis 891894 is a short poem that is not easy to interpret, but Gagn is cer-
tainly right that the last line of the poem answers the epigram on the Cypselid
Zeus: : May Zeus indeed ruin the family of
the Cypselids! It is possible that this poem is a later contribution to the collec-
tion of Theognidea, but in any case it shows that the Cypselid Colossus and its
inscription were well known in the Greek world. Another allusion to the same
epigram can be found in Theocritus Idyll22. The poets description of the mon-
strous boxer Amycus, who, with his flesh of iron, is hammered like a (or the?)
colossus ( , Id. 22.47) has been persuasively interpreted

55 Morgan 1994, 383.

56 Morgan 1994, 385. On the expenses involved in this dedication, see Arist. [Oec.] 2.1346a-b.
57 Servais 1965, 1689 thinks that the original inscription contained the names of Zeus and
the dedicators, without the curse on the Cypselid family. The version of the epigram in Photius
would then be a late, literary parody on the original text. Morgan 1994, 384, however, convinc-
ingly argues that the curse in the transmitted epigram is only meaningful in the original setting,
where visitors could actually compare the text of the inscription with the statue itself, the golden
hammer-worked colossus.
58 The word characterizes the Colossus of the Cypselids not only in Plato and in
the epigram, but also in Strabo8.3.30 (353C.) and 8.6.20 (378C.).
59 Page 1981, 397: Plato attests not only the reality of the statue but also, by using the word
, his familiarity with the inscription; this must therefore be recognised as one of the
oldest extant inscriptions in elegiac verse. See also Morgan 1994, 385.
60 I thank Renaud Gagn for drawing my attention to Theognis894. Gagn (forthc.) offers a new
interpretation of Theognis poem and its connection to the epigram.

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Longinus 36.3: The Faulty Colossus and Platos Phaedrus 333

as an allusion to the epigram cited above. The ending of Theocritus verse is

almost identical to the first line of the epigram, although iron has replaced the
original gold, in the same relative position of the verse ( resp. ,
directly before ). In this context, the words and
are apparently sufficient indicators to evoke the well-known hammered
statue of Zeus in Olympia. If this is correct, the allusion seems to imply that, due
to the famous inscription, the Cypselid Colossus had acquired the proverbial
status of a typical colossus in the Hellenistic period, if not already in the age of
Theognis or Plato.
In Platos dialogue, Phaedrus thus compares Socrates with a famous statue of
great size. Thanks to the well-known epigram, this statue was famous as a colos-
sus a colossus with a reputation of archaic grandeur, which is explicitly associ-
ated with Plato, in the context of a competition with Lysias. Could it also be called
Flawed or faulty (, Longinus36.3) must be the word that the
writer (presumably Caecilius of Caleacte, as I have argued above) used in his
critical comparison between the Doryphorus and the colossus. There are two
reasons why the dedication of the Cypselids could indeed appear to be faulty,
especially in the eyes of a post-classical critic. Firstly, the statue of Zeus dedicated
by the Cypselids was no doubt a typical archaic : such an archaic statue
obviously lacked the refinement and perfect proportions of classical statues
such as Polyclitus Doryphorus. Secondly, the technique of hammering that is
implied by the term (Phaedrus 236b) would make a rather primitive
impression on viewers of the classical (or post-classical) period who were used to
statues made by casting bronze. Large statues in the sphyrelaton technique are
not extant, but three hammered figurines have been found in the temple of Apollo
Delphinios at Dreros (one of them known as the Dreros Apollo). These statuettes,
which should presumably be dated to the second half of the eighth century B.C.,

61 Theoc. Id. 22.467: | ,

. His mighty chest and broad back was rounded with iron flesh, ham-
mered like the colossus. Sens 1997, 115 notes that Theocritus, through the reference to the epi-
gram, compares Amycus with the Cypselid Zeus.
62 Sens 1997, 115.
63 In literary criticism early statues and architecture are sometimes associated with the admired
austere style (e.g. Demetr. Eloc. 1314; Dion. Hal. Comp. 22.13), but archaic art could also be
considered old-fashioned and primitive in comparison with later (classical) art. The latter idea
is already present in Pl. Hp. mai. 281d-282a: according to Socrates, sculptors say that Daedalus,
if he were to be born now and to create such works as those from which he got his reputation,
would be ridiculous.

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334 Casper C. de Jonge

look indeed relatively primitive compared to classical sculpture. It is of course

plausible that the Cypselid Colossus, which was made one century later, had more
sophisticated proportions than the Dreros Apollo. But the general appearance of
a hammered statue would not have been very different, and it would in any case
be regarded as less refined than a statue by Polyclitus. It has been argued that the
old-fashioned character of the hammered Colossus of Zeus is also meaningful
in the Phaedrus passage, where Phaedrus seems to portray Socrates as a rather
conservative intellectual.
We do not know whether Cypselid Colossus was really regarded as flawed
or faulty in classical or post-classical times. There are no sources that describe
it as such, and we can only say that both the archaic character and the technique
of hammering could appear as old-fashioned in the eyes of later generations. But
there is in fact reason to believe that the Cypselid dedication was indeed associ-
ated with faults, at least in the context of criticism: apart from the art-historical
arguments for calling the Cypselid Colossus flawed, there is a more important lit-
erary argument. In Platos Phaedrus, as we have seen, Socrates uses the terminol-
ogy of when identifying mistakes in the speech of Lysias. When he is
encouraged to give a better speech himself, Socrates emphasizes that he does not
mean to say that Lysias has failed in every respect ( ,
235e). The orators mistakes remain prominent in the beginning of Socrates
own first speech, where he implicitly criticizes Lysias abrupt opening: One
must know that which the deliberation is about, or else one necessarily misses
the mark altogether ( , 237b-c). The repeated word
underlines the supposed faults that Lysias made in his speech. In Longinus, the
same verb repeatedly refers to the faults that Caecilius detected in Plato and in
the colossus ( in 32.8, 33.1; in 36.3). The following
reconstruction thus presents itself: an Atticist admiror of Lysias style who had
read Socrates criticism of Lysias in Platos Phaedrus could be tempted to counter
Platos attack on Lysias, by pointing out that it was not Lysias who made mistakes
(), but Plato himself, who was faulty ().
It would make sense that Caecilius of Caleactes analogy between Lysias
and the Doryphorus was prompted by the passage in Platos Phaedrus. Phaedrus
praised Socrates as equal to the Colossus of the Cypselids in Olympia; Caecilius

64 Richter 1949, 334; Boardman 1978, 11; Biers 1987,1378; Thomas 1992, 1014; Boardman
2006, 131.
65 Morgan 1994, 381.
66 Note that after his first speech Socrates acknowledges that he made an error himself
(, 242c-d).

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Longinus 36.3: The Faulty Colossus and Platos Phaedrus 335

responded by comparing his own champion to a famous classical statue, which

was known for its accuracy and refinement. If Phaedrus associates Socrates
with an archaic colossus, with its faulty proportions and its old-fashioned tech-
nique, I claim that Lysias is Polyclitus Doryphorus. And the faulty colossus
( ) is not better than Polyclitus Doryphorus. Something
like this may have been Caecilius argument.
Could Plato indeed be considered comparable to the archaic colossus? We
have seen that the technique and appearance of the Cypselid Colossus could
be regarded as old-fashioned in the eyes of later generations. Here it is relevant
that ancient Greek critics describe Platos elevated style not only as poetic and
artificial, but also as old-fashioned. in his work On Demosthenes, Dionysius of
Halicarnassus, a direct contemporary of Caecilius of Caleacte, points out that
Platos style has an old-fashioned quality: The patina and bloom of age (
) gently and imperceptibly steals over its
surface and imparts to it a certain verdant, burgeoning brightness full of vigour.
When Plato attempts a more elevated style, this archaic character becomes a
problem: Dionysius observes that Platos excessive style seeks artificial, exotic
and archaic forms of expression ( ). In close connection
with this criticism, Dionysius refers to Platos mistakes in the use of figurative
language ( ): like the archaic vocabulary, his inaccurate use of epi-
thets, metonymies, metaphors and allegories results in obscurity. We have seen
that Caecilius likewise seems to have objected to Platos use of inappropriate met-
aphors (Longinus32.7). In his treatise On Dinarchus, Dionysius again mentions
old-fashionedness or patina ( ) as one of Platos qualities. Since

67 It is of course Socrates, not Plato, who is honoured with the colossus in Phaedrus. But it
is only a small step from Socrates to Plato, especially for readers who understand Socrates as
Platos spokesman. Later critics (e.g. the Neoplatonic commentator Hermeias) regard Socrates
speeches in Phaedrus as Platos and rightly so. Besides, ancient readers seem to have inter-
preted Phaedrus as Platos attack on Lysias. From that perspective, Socrates oratory is in fact
Platos, so that one could understand Socrates statue (the award for his oratory) as Platos statue
as well.
68 Dionysius, Dem. 5.3:
. Translation adapted from
Usher 1974.
69 Dionysius, Dem. 5.5, cited in Pomp. 2.1: see Fornaro 1997, 1445. Walsdorff 1927, 2733 shows
that there is agreement between Caecilius and Dionysius in their criticism of Platos style.
70 Dem. 5.56 (Radermachers supplement is highly probable: cf. the citation of the
passage in Pomp. 2.1).
71 Dionysius, Din. 8.1. For Dionysius criticism of Platos style, see also Comp. 18.914, Dem. 24.
and Dem. 32 (a comparison of Demosthenes and Plato).

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336 Casper C. de Jonge

Platos style and especially its poetic diction could apparently be perceived as
archaic in the Augustan period, it should not surprise us if Caecilius of Caleacte
(active in the same period as Dionysius) found the reference to the Cypselid
Colossus in Platos Phaedrus useful for his own stylistic criticism. Phaedrus
allusion to an archaic colossus in connection with Socrates oratory may have
appealed to an Augustan critic who thought of Platos elevated style as old-fash-
ioned. And it may have stimulated him to contrast Plato and the archaic colossus
on the one hand with Lysias and the well-proportioned Doryphorus on the other.
One question remains to be answered. Is it a reasonable expectation that
readers of Longinus36.3 would think of Platos Phaedrus, and would they be able
to understand that the faulty colossus refers to the Cypselid statue in that dia-
logue? There are no references to Platos Phaedrus in Longinus On the Sublime,
with one possible exception. At first glance, one might speculate that the citation
of a line from the epitaph for Midas (at the end of On the Sublime36.2) alludes to
Platos Phaedrus, in which the same epitaph is cited. The poetic citation is a line
from the epigram inscribed on the tomb of Midas, which is quoted and discussed
by Socrates in Phaedrus 264d: ,
so long as water runs and tall trees flourish. We might play with the idea that
Longinus citation (36.2) draws attention to Platos Phaedrus and thereby pre-
pares the reader for the immediately following discussion of the colossus and the
Doryphorus (36.3), which, as I have argued, is based on a different passage from
Phaedrus. The textual differences between the versions of the line in Plato on the
one hand and Longinus on the other, however, suggest that Longinus did not cite
the epigram from Platos Phaedrus. This fact makes it less likely that Longinus
citation of the line from the Midas epigram functions as an allusion to Phaedrus.
On a more general level, however, we know that Phaedrus was widely read in
the Augustan and Imperial ages, especially among critics and rhetoricians such
as Longinus, Caecilius of Caleacte and Dionysius of Halicarnassus. The dialogue
was considered one of the key texts of literary criticism, if only because of the
famous analysis of the Midas epitaph just mentioned (Phaedrus 264b-e), in which

72 The epigram is also cited in Diog. Laert. 1.89; [Dio Chrys.] 37.38; [Herod.] Vit. Hom. 11; Cert.
Hom. et Hes. 15; Sext. Emp. Math. 8.184e. Just like the epigram of the Cypselid Colossus, the
Midas epigram is a poem in which a statue speaks of itself in the first person: A bronze maiden
am I, and I am placed upon the tomb of Midas. So long as water runs and tall trees put forth
leaves, remaining in this very spot upon a much lamented tomb, I shall declare to passers-by
that Midas is buried here.
73 In Plato, the hexameter runs slightly different:
. Same version in Anth. Pal. 7.153. Longinus variants ( and for and )
are also found in the Herodotean Vita Homeri11.

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Longinus 36.3: The Faulty Colossus and Platos Phaedrus 337

Socrates offers the first formulation of the principle of organic unity. Dionysius
(Caecilius contemporary colleague) includes an extensive discussion of the style
of Socrates first speech (Phaedrus 237a238d) and second speech (Phaedrus
246e247a) in his essay On Demosthenes (57). He is critical of Platos use of the
sublime style ( ) in these speeches, which resorts to poetic artifici-
ality, high-sounding bombast and tasteless imagery (). Among other
things, Dionysius objects to the dithyrambic, Pindaric language that describes
the procession of divine and human souls in Phaedrus 247a. He points, as we have
seen, to the exotic and archaic () forms of expression and the inac-
curate use of metaphors objections that closely resemble Caecilius dislike of
Platos style as reported by Longinus (32.78).
The reconstruction proposed in this article has involved a number of inter-
pretative steps: in particular, I have argued that the writer in Longinus36.3 is
Caecilius of Caleacte, that the flawed colossus stands for Plato, and that Platos
Phaedrus is the subtext for the sculptural analogy in Longinus36.3. One can of
course argue about each of these steps: Longinus response to the writer who
stated that the faulty colossus is not better than the Dorphorus of Polyclitus is
perhaps too concise and allusive to allow any firm conclusions about the iden-
tity of the colossus. But given the fact that all previous attempts to identify the
colossus in that passage are problematic, as we have seen, the reconstruction
presented here, and summarized below, deserves to be taken into serious con-
A close reading of Longinus36.3 in its context strongly suggests, as I have
argued, that Platos Phaedrus lurks behind the sculptural analogy discussed
there. The comparison between Polyclitus Doryphorus and
(the faulty colossus) appears in the context of a discussion about
the mistakes of Plato, who is contrasted with the faultless Lysias. The Augustan
critics (Caecilius and Dionysius) who objected to the impropriety of Platos ele-
vated writing connected his stylistic mistakes with the old-fashioned character
of his style. The exotic, archaic and poetic character of Platos elevated style, with
its abundant use of inaccurate metaphors, was often contrasted to the purity of
Lysias plain language. In drawing a contrast between Lysias and Plato, Augustan
critics were certainly inspired by Platos Phaedrus, the classical text that stages
an oratorical contest between Lysias and Socrates. Statues play an important
role in that dialogue, as Phaedrus proposes to honour Socrates for his oratorical
excellence with a golden statue that will be placed next to an archaic colossus in
Olympia. When Augustan critics staged a new contest between Plato and Lysias,

74 Cf. Hunter 2012.

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338 Casper C. de Jonge

they also seem to have renewed the analogy between sculpture and oratory.
Longinus choice of words (, flawed, cf. in 32.8 and
33.1) strongly suggests that in this debate Plato was associated with a colossus,
whereas Lysias was compared with Polyclitus Doryphorus. I have argued that
Caecilius of Caleacte, Longinus opponent, introduced this analogy in response
to the passage in Platos Phaedrus, in which Socrates is promised a statue
next to a famous colossus in Olympia, as a reward for his victory over Lysias.
Commenting on this passage, Caecilius of Caleacte (if he is indeed the writer in
Longinus36.3), an admirer of Lysias, pointed out that the faulty colossus was not
better than the famous Doryphorus of Polyclitus. Longinus disagreed: as we have
seen, Longinus discourse implicitly suggests that he does believe that the colos-
sus is in fact the better statue (just as Plato is for Longinus certainly more sublime
than Lysias) but he insists that sculpture should not be compared to writing.
If the reconstruction presented here is correct, the faulty colossus, with its
archaic dimensions of grandeur, should be identified as Socrates neighbour-
ing statue in Olympia, the golden hammered statue of Zeus, dedicated by the
Cypselids, a statue that was famous as a colossus throughout the Greek world.
The colossus of the Cypselids, with its imperfect proportions, could appear old-
fashioned in the eyes of later generations, just as Platos elevated style, for its
lack of propriety in the use of vocabulary and metaphors, could be described as
archaic or old-fashioned by Augustan critics. But like Platos style, the archaic
colossus of the Cypselids was also widely admired for its sublime grandeur.

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useful comments on an earlier version of this article. The stimulating criticism of the anonymous
referee helped to improve the argument significantly. All remaining mistakes are my own.

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