Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Clouds of Witness ch 4 cont


He steered skillfully away into a quiet channel of reminiscence. Lord Peter watched his statuesque profile against the fire; it reminded him of the severe beauty of the charioteer of Delphi and was about as communicative.
The Charioteer of Delphi, also known as Heniokhos (the rein-holder), is one of the best-known statues surviving from Ancient Greece, and is considered one of the finest examples of ancient bronze statues. The life-size statue of a chariot driver was found in 1896 at the Sanctuary of Apollo in Delphi. It is now in the Delphi Archaeological Museum.

The statue was erected at Delphi in 474 BC, to commemorate the victory of a chariot team in the Pythian Games, which were held at Delphi every four years in honor of Pythean Apollo. It was originally part of a larger group of statuary, including the chariot, four (possibly six) horses and two grooms. Some fragments of the horses were found with the statue. When intact, it must have been one of the most imposing works of statuary in the world.

An inscription on the limestone base of the statue shows that it was commissioned by Polyzalus, the tyrant of Gela, a Greek colony in Sicily, as a tribute to Apollo for helping him win the chariot race. The inscription reads: [P]OLUZALOS MA nETHÊK[EN] ...]ON AES EUONUM APOLL[ON], which is reconstructed to read "Polyzalos dedicated me. ... Make him prosper, honoured Apollo."

The Sicilian cities were very wealthy compared with most of the cities of mainland Greece and their rulers could afford the most magnificent offerings to the gods, also the best horses and drivers. It is unlikely, however, the statue itself comes from Sicily. The name of the sculptor is unknown, but for stylistic reasons it is believed that the statue was cast in Athens. It has certain similarities of detail to the statue known as the Piraeus Apollo, which is known to be of Athenian origin.

The Charioteer himself is intact except that his left arm is missing. Greek bronzes were cast in sections and then assembled. When discovered, the statue was in three pieces—head and upper torso, lower torso, and right arm. The left arm was probably detached and lost before the statue was buried. This was probably done to protect it from looters, some time after the Sanctuary at Delphi was closed in the 4th century AD.


Detail of the statue's head, showing the inlaid eyesThe statue is one of the few Greek bronzes to preserve the inlaid glass eyes and the copper detailing of the eyelashes and lips. The headband is of silver and may have been inlaid with precious stones, which have been removed.

The figure is of a very young man, as is shown by his soft side-curls. Like modern jockeys, chariot racers were chosen for their lightness, but also needed to be tall, so they were frequently teenagers. He is wearing a xystis, the garment which drivers wore while racing. It falls to his ankles and is fastened high at the waist with a plain belt. The two straps that cross high at his upper back prevented the xystis from "ballooning" during the race.

Stylistically, the Charioteer is classed as "Early Classical" or "Severe" (see Greek art). The statue is more naturalistic than the kouroi of the Archaic period, but the pose is still very rigid when compared with later works of the Classical period. One departure from the Archaic style is that the head is inclined slightly to one side. The naturalistic rendering of his feet was greatly admired in ancient times. This sculpture displays several advancements on Archaic sculpting style - the introverted expression does away with the old 'Archaic smile' and he would not have been clothed in the Archaic period.

• • • • • • • • • •
It was not until after dinner that Sir Impey opened his mind to Wimsey. The Duchess had gone to bed, and the two men were alone in the library. Peter, scrupulously in evening dress, had been valeted by Bunter, and had been more than usually rambling and cheerful all evening. He now took a cigar, retired to the largest chair, and effaced himself in a complete silence.

Sir Impey Biggs walked up and down for some half-hour, smoking. Then he came across with determination, brutally switched on a reading-lamp right into Peter's face, sat down opposite to him, and said:

“Now, Wimsey, I want to know all you know.”

“Do you, though?” said Peter. He got up, disconnected the reading-lamp, and carried it away to a side-table.

“No bullying of the witness, though,” he added, and grinned.

“I don't care so long as you wake up,” said Biggs, unperturbed. “Now then.”

Lord Peter removed his cigar from his mouth, considered it with his head on one side, turned it carefully over, decided that the ash could hang on to its parent leaf for another minute or two, smoked without speaking until collapse was inevitable, took the cigar out again, deposited the ash entire in the exact centre of the ash-tray, and began his statement, omitting only the matter of the suit-case and Bunter's information obtained from Ellen.

Sir Impey Biggs listened with what Peter irritably described as a cross-examining countenance, putting a sharp question every now and again. He made a few notes, and, when Wimsey had finished, sat tapping his note-book thoughtfully.

“I think we can make a case out of this,” he said, “even if the police don't find your mysterious man. Denver's silence is an awkward complication, of course.” He hooded his eyes for a moment. “Did you say you'd put the police on to find the fellow?”

“Yes.”

“Have you a very poor opinion of the police?”

“Not for that kind of thing. That's in their line; they have all the facilities, and do it well.”

“Ah! You expect to find this man, do you?”

“I hope to.”

“Ah! What do you think is going to happen to my case if you do find him, Wimsey?”

“What do I——”

“See here, Wimsey,” said the barrister, “you are not a fool, and it's no use trying to look like a country policeman. You are really trying to find this man?”

“Certainly.”

“Just as you like, of course, but my hands are rather tied already. Has it ever occurred to you that perhaps he'd better not be found?”

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