Friday, June 04, 2021


Greek Sculpture

Allan Bloom (1930-1992), The Closing of the American Mind (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987), p. 80:
Lessing, speaking of Greek sculpture, said "beautiful men made beautiful statues, and the city had beautiful statues in part to thank for beautiful citizens." This formula encapsulates the fundamental principle of the esthetic education of man. Young men and women were attracted by the beauty of heroes whose very bodies expressed their nobility. The deeper understanding of the meaning of nobility comes later, but is prepared for by the sensuous experience and is actually contained in it. What the senses long for as well as what reason later sees as good are thereby not at tension with one another. Education is not sermonizing to children against their instincts and pleasures, but providing a natural continuity between what they feel and what they can and should be.
Lessing, Laokoon I.2 (tr. E.C. Beasley):
The plastic arts especially, besides the infallible influence which they exercise upon the national character, are capable of an effect which demands the closest inspection of the law. As beautiful men produced beautiful statues, so the latter reacted upon the former, and the state became indebted to beautiful statues for beautiful men.

Die bildenden Künste insbesondere, außer dem unfehlbaren Einflusse, den sie auf den Charakter der Nation haben, sind einer Wirkung fähig, welche die nähere Aufsicht des Gesetzes heischet. Erzeugten schöne Menschen schöne Bildsäulen, so wirkten diese hinwiederum auf jene zurück, und der Staat hatte schönen Bildsäulen schöne Menschen mit zu verdanken.

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