Simonides calls painting silent poetry and poetry painting that speaks  

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"Painting is silent poetry, and poetry painting that speaks" is a dictum found in Plutarch's Moralia, attributed to Simonides, later quoted by and paraphrased by the Latin poet Horace as ut pictura poesis.

  • Variant translations:
Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting with the gift of speech.
Painting is silent poetry, poetry is eloquent painting.

Full fragment

"Simonides, however, calls painting inarticulate poetry and poetry articulate painting: for the actions which painters portray as taking place at the moment literature narrates and records after they have taken place. Even though artists with colour and design, and writers with words and phrases, represent the same subjects, they differ in the material and the manner of their imitation; and yet the underlying end and aim of both is one and the same; the most effective historian is he who, by a vivid representation of emotions and characters, makes his narration like a painting. Assuredly Thucydides is always striving for this vividness in his writing, since it is his desire to make the reader a spectator, as it were, and to produce vividly in the minds of those who peruse his narrative the emotions of amazement and consternation which were experienced by those who beheld them."[1]

See also


Plutarch's Moralia, De gloria Atheniensium

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