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SETTING THE SCENE 27 Although Macaulay52 was the ﬁrst notable critic of Mitford, a thorough response had to wait for the publication of George Grote’s (1794– 1871) History of Greece (1846– 56). Grote was a political radical. His attraction to utilitarianism and liberalism inevitably implied that his take on the history of Greece would be very different – diametrically opposed, in fact – from that of Mitford. He celebrated the Athenian democracy; and by so doing, he had also implicitly approved of the post-Reform constitutional arrangements of the British polity.
This restraint, in Lessing’s view, has more to do with the ‘peculiar nature of Art and her necessary boundaries and limitations’,73 and rather less to do with the deliberate balancing of ‘pain’ and the ‘greatness of the soul’. In other words, such an interpretation has led to a misreading of Virgil. The words ‘clamores horrendos ad sidera tollit’ (‘His roaring ﬁlls the ﬂitting air around’74) are merely a short segment of the whole poem. 75 Thus, both the sculpture and the poet were perfectly justiﬁed in the manner in which they handled their respective materials and aesthetic media.
Is noble simplicity and serene greatness in the pose as well as in the expression. ’68 It is precisely this type of analytical approach that directed Winckelmann to infer that the Greeks did not merely copy nature, but added something to it; they added ideal beauty. It is not nature at its best that can be seen in the works of the Greeks, ‘but something more than nature; that is certain ideal beauties formed from pictures created only in the mind of the artist’. This ascendancy of the ‘mind of the artist’ over nature was – and still is – a potent message.