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Full text of "The renaissance of the Greek ideal"

Ill Si 

Hiy BH 



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13 "I 








THE RENAISSANCE OF 
THE GREEK IDEAL 



A TEXT BOOK OF 
GYMNASTICS 

By K. A. K.NUDSEN, Chief Inspector 
of Gymnastics in Denmark. 

Translated by Miss RUTH HERBERT, 
Assistant Organiser of Physical 
Training for Cornwall, and H. G. 
SIMKER, Principal of the Physical 
Training Institute, Silkeborg, 
Denmark. 

Revised by FRANK N. PUNCHARD, 
Master of Method, College of Hygiene 
and Physical Training, Dunfermline. 

Crown 8co. With many Illustrations and 
Diagrams. Price 10/6 net. 



LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN 



Diana Watts as the " Poised Archer." 



THE RENAISSANCE OF 
THE GREEK IDEAL 



BY 

DIANA WATTS 

(Mrs. Roger Watts) 

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS AND DIAGRAMS 




LONDON : WILLIAM HEINEMANN 



To all those who by their love and encouragement 

have made this book possible 

1 dedicate it in gratitude 

and affection. 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

CHAPTER I. 

Comparative Analysis of the Ancient Greek Development 

and that of the Modern Human Being ... i 

CHAPTER II. 

The Essential Training of the Foot as Base ... 9 

CHAPTER III. 

Definition of Tension . . . . . .21 

CHAPTER IV. 

The Fundamental Principles of Movement . . . 33 

CHAPTER V. 

The Application of Mathematics to Human Movement . 43 

CHAPTER VI. 

The Interpretation of Sculpture by the Laws of Balance . 67 

CHAPTER VII. 
Mental Reactions 84 

CHAPTER VIII. 
Spiritual Reactions . . . . . . .103 



Detailed Explanation of Four Basic Exercises . . . 115 

vii 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

PLATES 

JTOv/Vl^O FOLLOWING 

NO. PAGB 

DIANA WATTS AS THE "POISED ARCHER" Frontispiece 
I. THE HERAKLES OF THE AEGINA PEDIMENT . . 4 

THE AUTHOR'S REPRODUCTION OF THE HERAKLES 

II. FIRST POSITION OF THE ARCHER .... 4 

III. SECOND POSITION OF THE ARCHER . . . 4 

IV. FINAL POSITION OF THE ARCHER .... 4 

V. BRONZE REPRODUCTION OF THE DISCOBOLUS OF MYRON . 6 
VA. DISCOBOLUS OF THE CASTEL PORZIANO ... 6 

THE AUTHOR'S REPRODUCTION OF THE DISCOBOLUS 

VI. TAKING AIM . . 6 

VII. THE SWING BACK " 6 

VIII. FINAL POSITION .6 

IX. DIAGRAM OF THE AUTHOR'S FOOT BEFORE AND AFTER 

TRAINING * . 12 

DESIGNS OF CURVES MADE BY A WHEEL FIXED TO A 
HORIZONTAL BAR, THE PIVOT OF WHICH WAS 
TRAVELLING AROUND AN ELLIPSE- 
DIAGRAM I. CURVES WHICH ULTIMATELY BECOME 

CHANGELESS AND ENDLESS . . 47 
DIAGRAM II. CURVES PRODUCED BY ALTERATION IN 

THE LENGTH OF BAR . .48 

DIAGRAM III. MORE COMPLICATED CURVES PRODUCED 

BY A FURTHER ALTERATION IN THE 

LENGTH OF THE BAR ... 49 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

FOLLOWING 

MO. PAGE 

X. PRELIMINARY POSITION 30 

XI. OPTICAL REGISTRATION OF EXERCISE IV. Two FIGURES 58 

XII. GEOMETRICAL VERSION OF THE SAME ... 58 

XIII. OPTICAL REGISTRATION OF EXERCISE III. FOUR FIGURES 60 

XIV. GEOMETRICAL VERSION OF THE SAME ... 60 
XV. THE CHARIOTEER OF THE CAPITOL, ROME ... 70 

XVI. A. HEROS COMBATTANT DU LOUVRE. B. THE FIGHTING 

THESEUS 72 

XVII. A. THE YOUTH OF SUBIACO. B. THE AUTHOR'S ALTER- 
NATIVE POSITION TO THAT OF THE YOUTH OF SUBIACO, 

SHOWING STRONG POSITION OF THE LEFT FOOT . 74 

XVIII. THE AMAZON OF THE VATICAN 76 

XIX. THE AUTHOR'S ALTERED RESTORATION OF THE AMAZON . 76 

XX. THE ATHENA OF THE AEGINETAN PEDIMENT . . 78 

XXI. APOTHEOSIS OF HERAKLES 80 

XXII. THE AUTHOR'S REPRODUCTION OF VASE PAINTINGS OF 

ATHENA (FIRST POSITION) 80 

XXIII. A COMPLETE VOLTE-FACE WITHOUT LIFTING THE FEET . 80 

XXIV. THE GODDESS FORTUNA 82 

XXV. THE AUTHOR'S REPRODUCTION OF THE FORTUNA IN 

PROFILE 82 

XXVI. POSITION OF THE APHRODITE AT THE VILLA ITEM . . 82 

XXVII. POSITION OF THE GREEK DANCING BOY ... 82 

XXVIII. EXAMPLE OF TENSION IN A FALLING CAT . . .100 

XXIX. EXERCISE I. OF THE FOUR BASIC EXERCISES. THREE 

POSITIONS 118 

XXX. EXERCISE II. THREE POSITIONS .... 122 

XXXI. EXERCISE III. FOUR POSITIONS . . . .128 

XXXII. EXERCISE IV. THREE POSITIONS . . . .134 



THE RENAISSANCE OF 
THE GREEK IDEAL 



CHAPTER I 

COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF THE ANCIENT GREEK DEVELOPMENT 
AND THAT OF THE MODERN HUMAN BEING 

" No citizen has a right to be an amateur in the matter of 
physical training : . . . . what a disgrace it is for a man to 
grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which 
his body is capable ! " 

SOCRATES. Xen., Mem. Hi. 12. 

OF all the lost secrets of antiquity, perhaps the 
most important is that which produced the enor- 
mous physical superiority of the Greeks over any 
other race of human beings known to us either before or 
since their time. 

They proved for all time that this condition of physical 
excellence was possible in a human being. How the secret 
of its attainment was lost will probably never be decided, 
as not one of the many theories can ever be proved. 

i 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

The fact only remains that a rising wave of unequalled 
physical and mental development carried these wonderful 
people on its crest for one brief period of realised perfection, 
during which they were able to grasp the full meaning 
of Liberty under the Law, not only as a nation, but also 
as individuals. 

The modern human being has drifted so far away 
in physical form from the Greek as to fail to realise the 
differences. These differences, however, are not organic, 
but are in all probability the result of early training. 

I myself began as an ordinarily active human being, 
but, in the course of training, development, researches, and 
discoveries, gradually acquired a knowledge that led to a 
condition which is nearer to that of the Greeks than any 
other that has yet been achieved. 

The secret consists in a condition of the muscles totally 
different from any realised by athletes since the time of the 
Greeks, a condition of Tension, which transforms dead 
weight into a living force, and which made the Greek 
as different from the modern human being as a stretched 
rubber band differs from a slack one. 1 

1 It is interesting to note that, although the secret of how this condition 
was acquired has been lost, strong evidence remains that a special science 
existed, as will be seen in the following extract from Mr. Norman Gardiner's 
book on Greek Athletics : 

" There arose in the middle of the fifth century a new science of 
gymnastics, which aimed not at the performance of particular exercises but 



THE ANCIENT GREEK DEVELOPMENT 

There are frequent allusions in the Iliad to this power 
possessed by the Greeks of transforming their muscles on 
the instant into a condition of almost superhuman force, 
and although much must be allowed for Homer's poetical 
imagination, there is no doubt that this extraordinary 
force was always produced by will-power acting on some 
special physical condition which resulted in a complete 
restoration of exhausted powers, taking away all sense of 
fatigue, and placing the body once more under an alert 
control. 

It would be impossible to prove that the means by 
which I discovered this force in myself are the same which 
gave the Greeks their marvellous physical superiority ; but 
it will probably be conceded that there is sufficient simi- 
larity in the results to justify the hypothesis. 

Among the statues of the Aegina Pediment are one or 
two figures the correctness of whose positions has been 
questioned on account of their seeming physical impossi- 
bility notably that of the crouching archer with the 
lion's head helmet, supposed to be the Herakles. This 
exquisite statue is an example of what, to the modern 
human being, is an impossible position, owing to the 
difficulty of maintaining a balance on so uncertain a base.. 

This was the first statue on which I tested my own 

at the production of certain physical conditions (!ts, Xenophon, Mem. I.e. ', 
Aristotle, Pol. 1338 b.), especially the condition required for athletic 
success." " Greek Athletic Sports and Festivals." E. Norman Gardiner. 

3 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

newly discovered principle of balance in movement under 
tension, and with the test the whole sequence of movement 
came as a revelation. Passing through the positions which 
led up to that chosen by the sculptor, I proved it to be 
not only possible, but inevitable, as also the subsequent 
recovery to an erect position. In demonstrating the 
principles of balance, which make possible the momentary 
poise of all the most vividly animated statues, it is not 
enough to give a careful imitation of the one position 
chosen by the sculptor. To prove its naturalness and its 
truth, it is necessary to show what led up to that momen- 
tary poise, and what followed it, and if all three positions 
produce an uninterrupted sequence it is safe to conclude 
that the central poise is correct. 

In giving photographs of my own reproductions of 
certain statues (for the sake of comparison with the originals) 
this is the method I have adopted. 

Plate I. shows the original of the Archer of the Aegina 
Pediment, and Plates II., III., and IV. my representation 
of his completed movement. One can picture him first, 
standing erect, peering round the corner of a boulder, or 
from behind a bush, watching for his enemy, when suddenly 
he spies him, and in an instant drops from a standing 
position, in which he was exposed, to a crouching one, in 
which he is covered and can let fly his arrow in safety. 

The drop is made in one single movement, by the 

4 



PLATE I. 




PJiolo Gi 



The Herakles of the Aegina Pediment. 



PLATE III. 




Copyright.} 






Second Position of the Archer. 



PLATE IV. 




CopyrigJit.] 



Final Position of the Archer. 



THE ANCIENT GREEK DEVELOPMENT 

simultaneous bend of the right foot and knee, and the 
throw-out of the left leg, with the foot well in front, to 
allow the greatest possible bend of the right foot and 
knee, all this having been performed without disturbing 
the vertical line of the torso. The recovery to an erect 
position is merely the drawing back of the left foot under 
the body, and the straightening up of the right foot and 
knee in appearance an extremely simple movement, and 
strikingly beautiful because of its simplicity. 

Plate V. represents the Discobolus of Myron, the 
photograph being that of the bronze reproduction in the 
Terme Museum in Rome. 1 Considered statically, it is 
a comparatively easy matter to reproduce the position of 
this statue correctly ; considered dynamically, it has never 
been clearly explained. On the contrary, it has often 
been described as a contortion, and even Professor Loewy 
regards it in that light. 2 It has also been compared to " an 
involved figure of speech." But, as soon as the laws of 
equilibrium in movement are understood, this wonderful 
momentary poise explains itself with perfect clearness. 
The rules regulating the throwing of the discus restricted 
the competitors to a limited space, and in my interpretation 
I have assumed that the Discobolus allowed himself four 

1 A photo of the unrestored statue of the Castel Porziano in marble is 
also shown. 

2 " Nature in Greek Art." Emanuel Loewy, p. 87. 

5 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

steps. The first position would necessarily be that of 
taking aim, represented by Plate VI. Although there 
was no special mark to be aimed at nor even any restriction 
as to latitude, it is obvious that the straighter the line of 
flight, the farther the discus would travel, and therefore 
the competitor would probably take mental note of some 
object he considered possible to reach, and aim for that. 
I myself found I could throw farther when aiming at some 
definite mark than when merely letting the discus fly at 
random. The wavering of indecision, replaced by direct- 
ness of intention, finds its corresponding economy of 
force in the physical expression, which results in a more 
powerful throw. Plates VI., VII., and VIII. show the 
three striking positions from start to finish. That of 
taking aim is followed by a short run of three steps, and 
the swing back of the discus arm on the third step, accom- 
panied by the simultaneous turn-back of the head to allow 
the maximum play of the shoulder-muscles and also to 
bring the whole weight in line over the base (see Plate VI I.). 
All the force of the throw depends on the freedom of 
the shoulder-swing. This backward movement of the 
arm and head produces a momentary pause in the forward 
momentum, during which the left foot performs a supple 
trailing movement on the bent-back toes, offering no 
resistance either to the pause or the momentum, held in 
abeyance, as it were, ready for the final gathering together 
6 



PLATE V. 




Photo Alinari.] 

Bronze Reproduction of the Discobolus of Myron. 
Terme Museum, Rome. 



PLATE VI. 




Copyright.] 






Taking Aim. 



PLATE VII. 




Copyright.} 



The Swing Back. 



PLATE VIII. 




Copyright.} 



The Final Position. 



THE ANCIENT GREEK DEVELOPMENT 

of all the forces in the actual throw. The whole weight 
of the body is on the right foot, whose toes grip the ground 
with tremendous tension, to prevent any pull back of the 
body by the backward swing of the discus arm. 

Looking at this statue, end on, so to speak, one notices 
the decided lean-over to the left, although the centre of 
gravity is over the right foot. This is due to the necessity 
of counterbalancing the weight of the discus, which 
averaged 10 Ibs. The final position of the Discobolus, 
as represented by Plate VIII., is the uplifting of the whole 
body as the discus flies forward. The force with which 
it leaves the hand determines the distance it will travel, 
and this force is dependent on the freedom of the shoulder- 
swing. The momentum is in the arm alone, produced 
by the rapidity of its swing in a loose, free shoulder socket. 
No body weight is needed in this instance, to follow on 
after the throw, as there is no opposition to the discus. 
Straight and far it has to fly, and acceleration is the thing 
to try for. The force or travelling power of an object 
thrown depends, not on the momentum of a folio wing-on 
weight, but on the rapidity with which it leaves the hand, 
and this acceleration depends on freedom from friction 
or resistance. Therefore, anything that might hinder its 
speed must be carefully avoided. The main weight of the 
body must be so perfectly balanced that no danger of a 
fall forward can occur at the last moment. Body-weight, 

7 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

as a following-on movement, is needed only in the case of 
a blow. In this case, the arm meets with a sudden reaction 
from opposition, and the full power of a drive from the 
shoulder can take effect only when the body-weight follows 
closely on to counteract the effect of the reaction. 

The rapidity of rotation, on which depends the accuracy 
of aim, is given by the final twist of the forefinger as the 
discus leaves the hand, which movement also governs the 
height of the trajectory, an important factor in the distance 
reached. At the moment the discus leaves the hand, 
the body is drawn up to its full height, tense with the 
instant arrest of all momentum, the weight poised over 
the left foot, which has come forward on the trailing move- 
ment, ready for the fourth step, which it takes as soon as 
the body is erect, checking any chance of overbalance 
from the force of the throw. Thus, the final position is 
almost identical with the first, with this difference, that 
the body is more erect, and the head is thrown back instead 
of being lowered to the line of the right arm as when 
taking aim, and the arm itself is above the head. 

It would seem at first sight that both these statues, the 
Archer and the Discobolus, might be quite easily repre- 
sented in movement, but the first attempt will prove that 
this is not so. The sequence of all three positions in each 
case is only possible to achieve with muscles exquisitely 
trained to elasticity, exceptional activity, and balance. 
8 



CHAPTER II 

THE ESSENTIAL TRAINING OF THE FOOT AS BASE 



I 



Greek child was sent to the Palaestra at the 
age of five, and, judging by the testimony of Greek 
Art, the mothers must have modified the shape 
of their children before they began their gymnastic training. 
Antique Art gives us many illustrations of this. We have 
no grounds for thinking that the Greek baby was different 
from any other baby, but every reason for thinking that 
the Greek mother was responsible for its eventual develop- 
ment, more especially for the way in which it stood and 
walked. 

The neck was carried much farther back on the spine 
without throwing the chin in the air ; the hips also were 
more behind the body than under it ; the elbows farther 
back and turned in instead of out. Above all, the child 
was made to walk on the inside of its foot with the toes 
planted in straight line with the heel ; never turned 
outwards. 

Finally, when the child went to the gymnasium, the 
object of its training was not how to develop its muscles, 
but to learn how to transform their condition, at will, into 

9 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

one that rendered the whole body master of itself on the 
instant. 

The result of this was twofold. In the first place, it 
entirely abolished all sense of fatigue, and, in the second, 
it gave an extraordinary precision of movement, the out- 
come of a perfect command over the muscles. 

There are many illustrations on vases of the importance 
evidently attached to exercises performed along straight 
lines, the trainer standing behind the pupil giving instruc- 
tions, while the pupil is advancing, with eyes fixed upon 
some distant object, in the endeavour to maintain some 
special position of balance. One vase in the British Museum 
represents a baby crawling on its hands and knees, with 
a trainer behind it, and the mother some distance in front 
holding out her hands. The trainer carries, as usual, a 
long stick, with which he emphasises his explanations and 
guides the small pupil along a line. 

The two most important things, then, with which the 
Greek child began its physical training, were : the cultiva- 
tion in its muscles of a condition that made possible the 
maximum amount of activity, and the mastering of the 
laws of balance, which enabled that activity to be controlled 
with the smallest expenditure of force. 

The feet, being the most important factor in balance, 
received the most careful training, and Antique Art gives 
numberless illustrations of special movements on the ball 
10 



TRAINING OF THE FOOT AS BASE 

of the foot, to accustom the pupil to dispense entirely 
with the heel as necessary security for balance, and teach 
him to maintain the centre of gravity over the forward part 
of the foot. This is the explanation of the beautiful Greek 
foot. The form of the Greek foot is totally different from 
that of a modern foot, and the strange sense of flying 
which is expressed in nearly all antique representations of 
movement is due to these wonderful feet. The first three 
toes were very much longer, and were thin and nervous 
like fingers ; the fourth toe was barely used, and the little 
toe not at all, being nearly always well above the ground, 
the reason for this being the spread of the pad on the 
outside of the foot, which formed a sort of wing on which 
all the ground contact and movement were centred. This 
wing, which is that part of the pad immediately below the 
little toe, was the secret of their wonderful flying movement. 
It has practically ceased to exist, but so great is the power 
of predestined form, that, in spite of years of distortion, 
Nature, if given a chance, will repair to an incredible 
degree all human errors of this type. 

Plate IX. is interesting from this point of view. The 
dotted lines represent the outline of my own foot without 
a shoe, taken at an interval of five years between the 
two diagrams l ; while the thicker lines represent the 
respective soles worn, in the case of No. i taken 
1 These diagrams have been of course reduced in size. 

II 



PLATE IX 




No. i. The foot when wearing the habitually shaped shoe. 
12 



No. 2. The foot when allowed perfect freedom. 



TRAINING OF THE FOOT AS BASE 

from a smart Bond Street shoe, and, in the case of No. 2, 
that worn at the present day, and made by an equally 
smart Sloane Street shoemaker. In Diagram i it will 
be noticed that the point of the toe is in direct line with 
the middle of the heel, as shown by the line E to F y which 
is the invariable way of making the modern shoe of a 
woman. To fit the foot into this line, the joint of the big 
toe, where it meets the ball of the foot at point A, has to 
be bent over towards point F. This contortion is quite 
possible, as this particular joint is a partially revolving 
one ; but it was made so to facilitate a more perfect balance 
on that part of the foot destined to carry the weight of 
the body, and this fact proves Nature's intention of leaving 
absolute freedom at that point. The result, therefore, of 
bending the toe to the side, locks this joint, and makes 
even a slight bend a constant strain. But, what is still 
more important, this contortion makes impossible any bend 
at all of the second joint of the big toe (#), which is formed 
to move backwards and forwards only ; and with the 
rigidity of this joint comes the paralysis of all joints in 
line with it. 

Diagram i on Plate IX. will make this clear. A repre- 
sents the junction joint of the big toe and the ball of the 
foot, B the second joint of the big toe, rendered rigid by 
the unnatural angle of A to F. The fact that B is unbend- 
able renders C also rigid ; therefore the only possible 

13 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

bend in the forward part of the foot is in a straight line 
across the ball from A to Z), and all in front of that line is 
rendered useless, although it is the only part provided 
with joints and elasticity. 

The actual movement of the foot is thus restricted 
to leverage from E to A and D, and as there are no joints 
in this part of the foot but only a strong tendon, which 
depends for elasticity on the freedom of A, the movement 
cannot fail to be performed in jerks, and the weight centre 
is thrown back to midway between A and E. The wrench 
of the muscles at A, necessitated by the angle AF, pro- 
duces callosities smaller or greater according to the weight 
of the individual. Diagram i is a good specimen of the 
foot of a modern woman, yet even this represents pain 
and fatigue and distortion, solely from the fact that joint B 
is unbendable. 

Diagram 2 on Plate IX. is an outline of the same foot 
five years later. Joint A has been liberated by making 
the shoe a different shape, and restoring the angle AF to 
a straight line, and Nature has responded by bringing back 
the big toe into this line, as was always intended. This 
gives B, which can only bend forwards and backwards, the 
freedom it needs, and at the same time liberates all joints 
in the line from B to C. The swing-back of the big toe 
into a straight line considerably shortens the line A to B, 
while it enormously lengthens that of F to Z), the lengthen- 

14 



TRAINING OF THE FOOT AS BASE 

ing process taking place in two directions, viz., from C 
upwards to F, and from the same point downwards to Z), 
gradually getting lower as the wing of the foot responds 
to its freedom and takes its natural spread. The nearer 
point D becomes to the narrowing waist of the foot, the 
more perfect will be the spring and balance of the move- 
ment, for the reason that the triangular bend from D to A 
and on to B constitutes a complete leverage in itself, 
without the need of any help from the heel. The weight- 
centre is carried forward from the middle of the waist 
of the foot to a point on the ball of the foot, a little inside 
A y and the line E to F is now traced from the inside edge 
of the heel to the point of the big toe. Having restored 
the use of the forward part of the foot, and relieved the 
heel of weight it was never intended to carry, the main- 
spring or tendon which is placed all along the waist of 
the foot, and works in connection with the tendon Achilles, 
becomes strongly elastic, and the heel itself becomes much 
smaller, the tendon Achilles finer, and more nervous, 
and all the thickening and swelling of this tendon, which 
is usual under modern conditions, disappear, and it is 
possible in many cases for the foot to become a thing of 
beauty, even after having lived many years in a distorted 
condition. 

I have gone into this subject of the foot at such length 
on account of its enormous importance in all that has to 

15 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

do with the highest development of balance. The more 
perfect the development of the human being becomes, the 
more rudimentary will become the little toe, which is only 
needed in a condition of uncertain balance. The gradual 
development of the ape is sufficient proof of this. In the 
period when he used all four limbs alike, for climbing and 
scrambling, the uniform formation of all four extremities 
was that of a hand he was literally quadrumanous. 
Gradually, he became more frequently erect, and the 
unaccustomed strain of a heavy body on only two of the 
limbs forced the knees outward and gave him his bandy 
legs. His weight was thus thrown on the outer edge of 
the foot, the little toe and its neighbour were specially 
developed, with the result that, as the ape exists at present, 
his feet are wide at the toes. But his toes are gradually 
shortening, and although the knees are still bent, he is 
quite sure of himself on two legs. In all primitive tribes, 
this widening of the toes will be noticed, together with the 
projecting heel, both being the result of the outward bend 
of the knee, to a greater or lesser extent according to the 
different races. And as the feet are the last to change, in 
many cases the knees are already finely developed while the 
toes remain spread, as, for example, with that magnificent 
tribe the Zulus, although even there the majority have still 
the outward curve at the knee. The large projecting heel 
is also a result of the effort required to preserve an uncertain 
16 



TRAINING OF THE FOOT AS BASE 

balance, and this, like the little toe, becomes less than half 
its original size when a perfect balance transfers the weight- 
centre to the ball of the foot. 

To this gradual straightening into an erect position may 
be ascribed another extraordinary result, the importance of 
which cannot be exaggerated. The ape is becoming more 
intelligent ; he is developing into a reasoning animal, and 
quite lately he has begun to throw stones ! I suggest that 
this awakening of the intelligence may be attributed to the 
altered position of the diaphragm, which in the human being 
is the radiating centre of all power and control through the 
medium of tension, and would appear to have become so 
through the influence of some unknown force operating 
through the vertical only. 

To return to facts, what I wish to make clear at this 
point is the connection between the widening foot and the 
outward bend of the knees produced by uncertain balance. 
When that becomes true and secure, the knees become 
gradually straighter, and the weight-centre is brought into 
so direct a line over its base that a very much narrower one 
suffices, and finally the straightened main bones of the leg 
and instep which end at the big toe are the only ones 
required for balance. 

The result, then, of a perfect poise is the narrowing of 
the toes, with a concentration of the movement upon the 
three longest, and a corresponding diminution in the size of 

17 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

the heel. All sensation of balance has to be transmitted 
through the feet, which constitute the only normal point of 
contact with the earth for the erect human being. 

The feet, then, are the first to register any alteration in 
the balance, and should for that reason be the first to receive 
a care and a training that will enable them to respond 
unerringly to a rapidly-changing centre of gravity. 

It seems hardly necessary to point out that this training 
involves the complete renunciation of the high heel, which 
in itself means an entire readjustment of the weight of the 
body, and at first it feels strangely unbalanced ; but when 
the springs reassert themselves, as they surely will, one 
awakens to a new world, to a consciousness that the familiar 
metaphor of " walking on air " has become a reality, when 
every touch of the feet to the ground sends a thrill of 
elasticity ringing through one's nerves. 

It may be argued that the use of the high heel has the 
effect of throwing the weight forward on to the toes. This 
is quite true, but it must be remembered that the toes in 
this position are rigid, and the angle at which the foot 
is unavoidably placed on the ground takes away all elasticity 
of the tendon which forms the mainspring of the foot, so 
that it becomes powerless from being constantly at full 
stretch. The whole foot having been made rigid under 
these conditions, the weight of the body, if held erect, 
would naturally pitch forward upon the toes ; but as these 
18 



TRAINING OF THE FOOT AS BASE 

are unable to make any independent movement of adjust- 
ment, the balance has to be saved by the knees, which 
become bent to prevent the fall forward of the body. Thus, 
while the springs of the instep are strained to breaking- 
point, those of the knees never reach their full stretch, and 
eventually become contracted. The actual weight of the 
body under these conditions is thrown back upon the heel, 
although the toes actually touch the ground first. 

People often object on the score of ugliness to the 
abolition of the heel and the alteration of the ordinary 
pointed toe of the modern shoe, and I confess that every- 
thing I have ever seen which claimed to be a " naturally ' 
shaped or " hygienic " shoe has been of a form that would 
have made me willingly wear a distortion forever rather 
than see my foot in one of these exaggerations. 

Personally, I would recommend that all shoes should 
have equally thin pliable soles, to enable the springs of 
the foot to work freely ; the movement thus promoted, 
together with a soft felt inside sole for cold weather, 
ensures more warmth than a thick hard sole can ever do. 

It may be questioned why the professional dancer, when 
not actually pirouetting on the extreme point of the toe, 
walks with the natural heel very obviously touching the 
ground first, although there is no artificial heel on the 
professional dancing sandal. The explanation is that all 
professional dancing has been acquired at the cost of 

19 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

contortion of the toes, and of all the muscles over the 
instep, even in the case of the finest modern dancing as 
shown by the Russians. 

This contortion makes possible for quite long periods 
the performance of marvellous feats of balance on the 
extreme point of the big toe, but when it is not possible 
to continue these movements any longer, the weight of 
the body falls back inevitably upon the heel to relieve 
the overstrained toes. For this reason no dancer, how- 
ever wonderful on the stage, will be found to have beautiful 
movements in walking, stage perfection, however mar- 
vellous, being the result of trick work, possible only to 
acrobats, and resulting inevitably in the abnormal develop- 
ment of certain muscles together with a stupendous over- 
strain of all the vital organs. This it is that makes the life 
of the professional dancers such a short one, and in Russia 
they are not allowed to appear on the stage after reaching 
the age of twenty-five, being considered by then quite 
finished ! 



20 



CHAPTER III 

DEFINITION OF TENSION 

A the beginning of the last chapter, I said that 
the first thing the Greek child learned when it 
went to the Palaestra was, how to attain in its 
muscles a condition that rendered the whole body master 
of itself on the instant. 

This condition was one of complete Tension. 

The meaning of this word " Tension " has become so 
distorted that, being confused with rigidity, the stiffness 
and strain of unnecessary force, it is generally considered 
as a condition to be avoided. 

The true definition of Tension is " Elasticity." 

That which is given in the " Elements of Dynamics " l 
is as follows : " Tension is the stress when two bodies are 
connected by a string, and the force exerted on either is 
directed towards the other. Thus, when a mass is sus- 
pended by a string from a fixed support, the force which 
keeps the body in its place is directed upwards, the force 
which is exerted on the point of support is directed down- 
wards." 

1 Rev. J. L. Robinson, M.A. 

21 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

This definition is rather difficult to understand at first, 
by reason of the statement that " the force exerted on either 
is directed towards the other," which appears contradictory 
but, with a little thinking, becomes quite clear. 

Tension is obviously stretch, or, to use the technical 
term, stress, which condition becomes one of elasticity 
to a greater or lesser degree according to the material 
subjected to it. This condition of stretch was the pre- 
liminary essential for the muscles in all exercises of training 
performed by the Greeks. 1 

Up to the present time no study whatever has been 

1 In Professor Marey's book on Movement the following passages 
occur : 

" . . . Is (the) elastic force of rebound due to a physical property of 
the muscles, or is it due to an additional expenditure of energy ? Weber 
demonstrated that a muscle when in action acquired, by some intimate 
change within its fibres, a greater elastic force, and that it was this force 
which produced movement. The same thing happens, then, in a living 
tissue as in a steam-engine, in which the elastic force of a gas is converted 
into work. . . . 

" Veterinary experts have made a special study of the energy lost by 
the hoofs striking the ground when a horse is travelling at a rapid pace. 
They maintain that the flexor of the solitary toe, which constitutes the 
foot of a horse, is made to a great extent of elastic tissue. It possesses in 
consequence a physical property by means of which a more or less impor- 
tant part of the vital energy lost in falling on the feet is to some extent 
returned in the form of energy. 

" This subject deserves re-investigation. It would be interesting to 
discover whether tendons in man possess this valuable property to any 
noticeable degree, and, if so, whether it is retained through life." 

The theory contained in the following chapters may suggest an answer 
to Professor Marey's query. 

22 



DEFINITION OF TENSION 

made of this essential condition, nor has any emphasis 
been laid upon the fact that no precision of movement 
can be acquired without it. Yet it is only when there is 
complete connection, through stretch, of all the muscles 
with the centre of gravity, that any movement can be said 
to be executed without strain. Relaxation of this stretch 
means disconnection of one set of muscles with another, 
involving independent movements, independent reactions, 
and proportionate loss of combined force ; while the main- 
tenance of this connection through stretch, means a condi- 
tion in which every muscle has been called upon to share 
in the work required, having been linked with others 
which in their turn come directly in touch with the weight 
to be moved, or held still, as the case may be. 

Tension, then, is a connecting of the farthest outposts 
with headquarters ; headquarters meaning in this case the 
centre of gravity, the centre of the main weight. This 
linking together of every muscle produces the maximum 
of power with the minimum of effort, resulting in move- 
ment all in one piece, as it were. 

If the connection of the muscles be not complete, if 
any part of the body is slack, it means just so much dead 
weight to be carried, and just by so much drag upon the 
movement will the rhythm be dislocated. Dislocation 
means strain and fatigue owing to the disturbance of 
proportion of the forces in activity. 

23 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

Imagine a sailing vessel in full sail with the foresail or 
mizzen flapping against the mast ! You can't expect the 
mainsail alone to carry the vessel along smoothly, with a 
dead weight of canvas swinging her out of stride. But 
haul in the ropes, and stretch every inch of canvas taut 
and tense, and then see the rhythm and harmony that 
wake into life ! 

The modern human being has lost sight of the fact 
that the skeleton was not made to support, alone, the 
whole weight of the body, but to facilitate exactitude of 
movement by its system of leverage. The muscles are the 
principal weight-carriers, and able, when in a perfect 
condition of tension, so to disperse the weight along their 
constantly-moving cords of elasticity that no aggregate of 
weight is ever felt at any one point, and therefore no dead 
weight of fatigue is possible. It is at the waist that the 
lack of tension in the modern human being is most appa- 
rent, there being nothing but the spine as bone support 
for all that part of the body which extends from the lower 
ribs to the hips. But in reality there is the muscle of 
the diaphragm going through the centre and those of 
the abdomen in front, while at the back are those forming 
a thick band on each side of the spine and spreading 
up and around the sides as the latissimus dorsi. These 
central muscles of the diaphragm, abdomen, and back 
are practically powerless in the average modern human 

24 



DEFINITION OF TENSION 

being in the case of women, on account of strongly- 
boned corsets which preclude all free movement of this 
part of the body ; and in the case of men, from a general 
slackness, perhaps a reaction from an earlier period of 
exaggerated stiffness. The result of chronic slackness in 
these muscles is the crumpling-up of the waist and the 
settling down of the body into the hips, very much like an 
egg in an egg-cup. The constant pressure and dead weight 
of all the upper part of the body on the hips puts the whole 
strain on the hip muscles, which become exaggeratedly 
developed, while those of the abdomen and the cuirass 
muscles on each side of it are practically non-existent. 

The most noticeable result of the condition of tension 
in the Greeks was the invariable slimness of hip, not only 
in the men but in the women also. This was due to the 
proper development of the waist muscles and those of 
the back, which was sufficient to keep the upper part of 
the body lifted from the socket of the pelvis and allow 
of an infinitely freer movement of the hips. This in itself 
was sufficient to keep the hips fine and slim. 

The new-born infant begins life with a very strong, 
little diaphragm, and all movement for the first weeks of 
its life is centred there. Later on, it discovers that it has 
limbs, and as it grows older the discoveries extend to hands 
and feet and finally fingers and toes, while the nervous 
muscular centre of the diaphragm becomes forgotten by 

25 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

the child and neglected in its later training. But here, in 
the very centre of what seems to be the softest part of the 
body, lies hidden the dynamo of the magic current of 
tension, which can be turned on at will and sent racing 
through muscles prepared to receive it, flooding them with 
force and with fire, transforming them into living, vibrating 
cords, responsive to every command of the will, so that 
motion becomes, in fact, will-power made visible. 

It is not too much to assert that all the evils of mal- 
development come from the neglect of this part of the 
body, and all beauty and strength and perfect balance 
from the care of it. I have pointed out that the increasing 
intelligence of the ape may reasonably be ascribed to the 
development of the diaphragm resulting from the gradually- 
increasing erectness of carriage. With the straightening 
of the spine, the expansion of the lungs, and the lifted 
poise of the head, the diaphragm develops a new power, 
and becomes henceforth the generator of a different order 
of activity, the centre of a perfected balance, and the 
medium of a higher control. 

It is interesting to note that experiments are being 
carried on in America in connection with the walk of low- 
class criminals. It has been found that they habitually 
drag their feet along the ground instead of raising them. 
One of the experiments consists in making them walk over 
blocks of wood in the exercise-yard. This has necessitated 
26 



DEFINITION OF TENSION 

a greater effort of balance and consequently a straighter 
back ; and even this simple experiment has been found to 
ameliorate very definitely the mental condition. 

Looking at an ordinary class-room of boys or girls, or 
a lecture-room full of men and women, the first thing that 
strikes one is the prevalence of the so-called " round- 
shouldered " position. And yet none of them are really 
round-shouldered. It is a very difficult thing to change 
the position of the shoulders. To bring them forward, and 
keep them so for more than a moment, is extremely tiring, 
and the modern human being is not keen on unnecessary 
effort. What one really sees in these lecture-rooms is not 
round shoulders but slack diaphragms, a much greater evil, 
and the cause of all the fidgety unrest that takes hold of 
audiences when obliged to sit still for more than half an 
hour. A very simple experiment will prove the fallacy of 
the " round shoulder." If one sits in an ordinary straight- 
backed chair, at right angles to a mirror, in the so-called 
round-shouldered way, it will be noticed that, while the 
shoulders themselves lean against the back of the chair, the 
base of the spine will be several inches in front of it. Thus 
the whole strain falls upon the small of the back, which at 
once gives way and curves outward, while the waist col- 
lapses in front and curves inward, giving the effect of a 
huddled-up, round-shouldered position. The reversal of 
these curves is produced by sitting farther back, so that 

27 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

the base of the spine touches the back of the chair. This 
pushes out the diaphragm in front, which movement places 
the upper part of the body in a correctly-balanced position , 
which, so long as the diaphragm remains firm, may be 
maintained for long periods without the slightest effort, the 
centre of gravity being exactly over its support, which in 
sitting should be the base of the spine. This position 
reduces to a minimum the ache of a long day's motoring, 
and the discomfort of lecture-room chairs, while it entirely 
does away with all appearance of round shoulders. And 
the alteration in appearance and comfort has been made by 
the movement of the waist alone, by the raising and stretch- 
ing of the diaphragm from its ordinary crumpled-up, 
contracted condition. This stretching of the diaphragm, 
involving as it does a straightening of the spine, has also a 
definite effect upon the power of concentrating the mind 
on any particular subject. Look at the poise of the seated 
Buddhas in India, China, and Japan ; note the vertical 
spine, the perfect poise of the head, and the gracious 
attitude of the shoulders. They knew the importance of 
the correct sitting posture as an aid to deep thought. 

To return, then, the preliminary essential condition for 
all perfectly-balanced movement is that of full stretch. 
Henceforth, this stretching into Tension of the whole 
body will be termed the Preliminary Position, and it must 
be clearly understood from the first that any exercising 
28 



DEFINITION OF TENSION 

apart from this condition is practically useless where fine 
balance and precision of movement are aimed at. 

This preliminary stretching may appear quite an easy 
performance, but in reality it is the most complicated of 
all, and when this becomes easy of accomplishment, all 
difficulty of balance will have disappeared, and the student 
will have a clear road before him, with the certainty of 
being able to perform the most intricate changes of move- 
ment with the greatest ease. 

Here, then, are the detailed instructions for obtaining 
this Preliminary Position as shown on Plate X. : 

Begin by placing the feet close together, so that the 
heels and the whole of the inside line of the feet are touch- 
ing, the weight of the body well forward over the ball 
of the foot. Although the heels may just touch the ground, 
there must be no weight on them. The arms should 
be drawn down to their full length at the sides, with 
fingers pressed together but fully extended. Now, lift the 
chin (but without pushing the neck too far back on the 
spine), and raise the head well up from the shoulders by 
drawing the neck muscles up to their full stretch. This 
movement is followed by the pulling up of the waist 
muscles with a simultaneous downward stretch of the arms 
to prevent hunching up the shoulders. Great care must 
be taken not to contract the diaphragm unnaturally by 
holding the breath while stretching it. Any check on the 

29 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

breathing produces rigidity, and therefore the stretching 
of all muscles into this condition of Tension must be done 
in such a way as not to interfere with the free movement 
of the lungs or joints. The pulling up of the waist muscles 
really constitutes a drawing up of the body away from the 
legs, as it were, which should make the counter stretch 
downwards. 

On the accurate performance of this movement of the 
diaphragm depends the perfect balance of the whole body 
when completely tensed. When any loss of balance takes 
place, it is invariably at the waist, and the appearance of 
the average modern human being when making the least 
effort at special balance is that of having a great deal too 
much " top hamper," which graphic expression best con- 
veys my meaning. Here, as I said before in the middle of 
the diaphragm is placed the dynamo which sends out the 
current of Tension the moment the muscles are stretched 
enough to receive it. Here also lies the centre of gravity, 
the immovable point from which all movement should 
radiate. It is interesting to notice that when this part of 
the body is under perfect control, movement in water 
becomes a thing of extraordinary beauty and ease, depending 
as it does almost entirely on the muscles of the diaphragm 
a little twist, a bend, a straightening of the waist, and 
the rapid gliding turn of a fish is the result. 

In walking, the complete immobility of the diaphragm 

30 



PLATE X. 




Copyright ] 



Preliminary Position. 



DEFINITION OF TENSION 

is required owing to the fact that the support for the whole 
body, during movement, is the foot ; in the water, on the 
other hand, the weight is distributed equally over the whole 
surface of the body, and the centre of gravity is free to 
radiate movement in all directions, having no longer any 
weight to be controlled on one point as base. 

The next movement which follows the upward stretch 
of neck and waist, and the forcing downwards of the arms, 
is the bracing of the knee muscles. This should be 
effected by a definite movement of pushing the knee-cap 
back as far as possible. This draws up the muscles directly 
behind the knee to their full stretch from the heel. The 
foot muscles are now the only ones remaining unstretched^ 
and this should be done by rising well up on to the ball of 
the toes, so that the whole strain of the tensed body comes 
on the spring underneath the instep, which should be 
raised so as to form an acute angle with the ground. On 
this acute angle spring the whole weight of the balancing 
body should play when in complete Tension. The correct- 
ness of the position when all these movements have been 
completed may be tested by standing in profile before a 
mirror. If the balance is perfect, it will be possible to 
draw an imaginary line from behind the ear, passing 
through the shoulder, hip and the knee, and ending at the 
ball of the foot just behind the toes. 

After what I said about heels in the first chapter, it 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

seems hardly necessary to repeat that during the perform- 
ance of all exercises, either very thin-soled dancing sandals 
should be worn, or no shoes at all. 

An effort should be made, when in this Preliminary 
Position, to rise several times on the toes, great care being 
taken to keep the rest of the body absolutely immobile, 
so that the rise and fall may be in a strictly vertical line, 
the movement being made by the acute angle spring of 
the instep. 



CHAPTER IV 

THE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF MOVEMENT 



H 



AVING placed the body in the right condition 
for definite exercise, I shall now explain the 
principle on which the movements are based, a 
principle so purely mathematical that it applies not only 
to the special set of what I shall term basic exercises, but 
to all movement, however simple. It will therefore be 
necessary, before giving a detailed explanation of these 
exercises, to make a short analysis of movement in general. 
Roughly speaking, one may divide movement into two 
distinct types, which I shall call disconnected and sequential 
respectively. These different types of movement produce 
entirely different results both physically and psychologi- 
cally. It is with sequential movement alone that the 
exercises which follow are concerned ; but in order that the 
point of contrast between the two may be defined, I shall 
first explain what I mean by disconnected movement. This 
may be formed of a series of different positions with pauses 
between them. The pauses need not necessarily disorganise 
the series, but the fact of being able to stop between the 
successive positions allows their performance to become 

33 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

purely mechanical when once they have been practised 
separately and become easy of execution. Such move- 
ments consist almost invariably of the flexion and extension 
of the muscles of different parts of the body in turn, and 
are necessarily very limited. The check between each 
position, whether for a long or short interval, produces a 
corresponding break in the attention, during which it is 
possible to think of other things. This is the result of 
all movement which, with a little practice, may become 
mechanical. 

Sequential movement, on the other hand, presupposes 
a following-on, an uninterrupted continuity. If this is 
broken in any way the sequence is destroyed and a recom- 
mencement from the beginning is necessitated. It is 
impossible for sequential movement to become mechanical, 
on account of the extraordinary type of concentration 
needed to perform a number of varied movements with 
unbroken continuity a concentration that obliges the 
mind to pass rapidly from one point to another with 
unhesitating certainty, while yet retaining a clear idea of 
the sequence as a whole. In these two types of move- 
ment disconnected and sequential we get the physio- 
logical analogy of habit and interest ; habit being repre- 
sented by all that may become mechanical, and interest 
by all that involves thought-initiative. And in habit and 
interest are found what Professor Baldwin so aptly describes 

34 



FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF MOVEMENT 

as the " psychological poles, corresponding to the lowest 
and highest in the activities of the nervous system." 
Sequential movement involves a smooth, unchecked fol- 
lowing-on of many changes of position, regulated by a 
balance perfect enough to produce definite rhythm, and 
these changes of position are not arbitrary, but are neces- 
sarily related, and involve a tense connection with the 
centre of gravity, without which there must always be a 
great waste of force through conflicting strains. 

On accurate balance, then, depends the economy of 
force which, in movement, expresses the greatest beauty, 
giving as it does an appearance of ease and lightness 
obtained by the equal distribution of weight over perfectly- 
tensed muscles, so that the centre of gravity is exactly 
over its base. It is comparatively easy to keep the centre 
of gravity over its base when the body is stationary. The 
difficulty arises when the weight begins to move, and the 
base has to be constantly changed. 

Take, for example, the simplest of all sequential move- 
ments walking. The act of passing the weight from 
one foot to another results as a rule in an effort to feel 
forward for a new base before allowing the main weight of 
the body to trust to it, thus producing the jerky movement 
that gives the impression of a leg at each corner, so to 
speak. The way to avoid this jerky movement in walking 
is to carry the whole weight forward at the same time as 

35 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

the advancing foot, which can only be done if the whole 
body is in the condition of elastic tension already de- 
scribed. The law of rhythmical movement which gives 
the ideal poise requires that the centre of gravity of a 
moving weight should be kept constant over its base. 
Hence the enormous importance of a reliable base and 
the care required to avoid distortion of the feet. The 
observance of this law reduces to about half, the effort 
necessary in walking, while it increases to nearly double, 
the pace at which the ground is covered. This accelera- 
tion, under conditions of perfect balance, forms the strong 
point of contrast between sequential and disconnected 
movement. All disconnection means angles ; angles imply 
resistance ; and resistance involves reaction, which results 
in the loss of exactly half the force, according to the 
dynamic law that action and reaction are equal and opposite. 
Disconnection, therefore, expresses the Finite thing. Con- 
tinuity can only be expressed by curves. Sequential 
movement, by being circular, is capable of extraordinary 
acceleration by reason of its non-resistance, and thus 
represents the maximum force. Sequential movement, 
therefore, expresses the thing that is Infinite. Perfect 
sequential movement by which I mean that which main- 
tains a perfect equilibrium throughout can only be per- 
formed in the condition of complete Tension already 
described. This, it will be remembered, involves the 

36 



FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF MOVEMENT 

linking together of all the muscles at full stretch. The 
more complete this linking together, the less visible becomes 
the effort, so that the highest degree of Tension, although 
representing the most complicated vibratory movement of 
all the muscles, is the only condition in which perfect 
stillness can be maintained. The fact of having reached 
the climax of the combination of many positives results in 
the stillness of apparent negation ; as, for example, the 
vibratory combination of many coloured rays produces 
light, which is colourless. 

In connection with this idea of movement becoming 
invisible when it is the result of combined and perfectly- 
balanced effort, the late Edouard Rod once wrote a descrip- 
tion in the Figaro of the Temple of Neptune at Paestum, 
in which he expresses very beautifully in its application 
to architecture the idea of movement becoming invisible 
when it is the result of combined and perfectly-balanced 
effort : 

" II est tres fort, mais d'une force assez sure d'elle- 
meme pour s'apaiser, et pour arriver a la grace, la vraie 
grace, qui n'a rien a faire avec la debilite ... II 
n'est que de la force amincie, encore plus acquise et plus 
intrinseque puisqu'elle devient moins visible." . . . 
More inherent, more real, as the effort becomes less visible. 
This is the ideal strength ; and the basic principles of 
the finest architecture are the same as those which govern 

37 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

human movement, viz., the power of lift and expansion 
on a reliable base. 1 

When once these principles are clearly understood, 
they may be applied, not only to definite exercises, but 
to all sports, as also to the unconscious everyday movement 
of life, with the certainty of finding a more complete 
order of activity, a stronger current of force, a new power 
of control. 

In selecting and systematising different series of sequen- 
tial movements which shall be perfectly natural, one turns 
instinctively to those needed in imaginary attack and 
defence, not only on account of the great variety of these 
positions, but because of the rapidity with which they 
must be performed. The origin, then, of all physical 
training is war. Among primitive peoples, it was neces- 
sary to be always on guard against sudden attacks. For 
this reason, during times of peace, they practised at first 
a sort of mimic war, which gradually developed into a 
sport. The Greeks ascribed the invention of wrestling to 
mythical persons such as Palaestra, the daughter of Hermes, 
and to Theseus is given the honour of having been the 
first to reduce the sport to a game, with well-defined rules, 
and thus to have made an art of wrestling ; whereas before 
his time it consisted of the most brutal fighting, in which 

1 Michael Angelo maintained that, to an architect, a knowledge of 
anatomy is essential. 

38 



FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF MOVEMENT 

the strength and weight of the adversary alone decided the 
victory. 

In the mimic battles of the Spartans, they frequently 
lost eyes and ears, which tortures they accepted as the 
necessary sacrifice in return for the indomitable fortitude 
which they acquired. 

At a later date, the system adopted by the Athenians 
had for aim beauty of form and line, and grace of move- 
ment, and no competitor was awarded a prize unless his 
performance had been gracefully as well as effectively 
achieved. Contest by wrestling was divided into two 
branches by the ancient Greeks. The first was the " Pale 
Orthe," the upright wrestling. The second was called 
" Halendesis " or " Kylisis," in which the athlete wrestled 
with his adversary on the ground. The " Pale Orthe " 
was the only kind of wrestling practised in Homeric times, 
and also later on in the National Games of the Greeks. 
The rules provided that on the fall of an athlete his adver- 
sary should allow him to rise and resume the contest 
if he wished, but if he fell three times, the victory was 
decided in favour of the other. There were also prepara- 
tory exercises called " Analeinemata," exercises which 
were looked upon as of the greatest importance, since 
through them alone could the athlete acquire that tense 
elasticity of muscle necessary for the extreme rapidity 
required in actual wrestling. 

39 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

It is, then, natural to suppose that the preparatory 
movements represented as nearly as possible the actual 
positions taken in wrestling, so that by continued practice 
the pupil might arrive at the unhesitating certainty and 
precision needed in the varied changes of position of real 
contest. 

Antique Art gives many examples of this extraordinarily 
rapid form of wrestling by tripping. It appeared many 
centuries later among the Chinese, brought back probably 
through their intercourse with the Persians. The form 
of wrestling called Jujutsu, practised by the Japanese of 
the present day, is, I am convinced, a survival of the 
" Pale Orthe " of the Greeks. The collection of tracings 
on page 41, taken from Professor Krause's book 
" Hellenika Gymnastik und Agonistik" shows the close 
resemblance of some of the Japanese throws used in 
Jujutsu to those of the Greeks. No. i, especially, is 
identical with the Koshinage shoulder-throw, in which 
the thrower drops on his knees after having hoisted his 
opponent upon his shoulder. This throw can be given 
standing or kneeling, but the latter position is much more 
disastrous to the victim. No. 2 is obviously the Koshinage 
hip-throw, as used in Jujutsu at the present day, and 
No. 4 has a very close resemblance to the Japanese " Shi- 
moku," the position of the attacker's left hand being the 
only essential difference, while he is practically erect, 
40 



FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF MOVEMENT 



instead of crouching on bent knees. The " Pale Orthe * 
was introduced into Japan by a Chinaman about the third 
or fourth century, under the name of " Jujutsu," and 




Fig. I. 



Fig. 2. 





Fig. 3- 



Fig- 4- 



remained a jealously-guarded secret known to and prac- 
tised by the Samurai nobles alone, until comparatively a 
few years ago in 1860, I think when the general public 
were allowed to learn. With the strange liking of the 
Chinese for all that represents the grotesque in movement, 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

they neglected, and eventually completely lost, all the grace 
and beauty esteemed by the Greeks as indispensable, and 
retained only the dramatic and practical sides of wrestling, 
the genuine self-defence, which, among the Greeks, was 
subordinated to beauty. 

It is, then, upon the preparatory movements that I 
place such immense importance, and it was during the 
study of all the rapid changes of position in this " Pale 
Orthe," which demand such exquisite balance, that I 
found for myself the Law of Balance in movement, the 
application of which allows of the greatest rapidity and 
force with the least expenditure of energy. This law, 
as I have said, requires the centre of gravity of a moving 
body to be kept exactly and continuously over its base, 
an impossible achievement except under the condition of 
Tension already described. 



CHAPTER V 1 

THE APPLICATION OF MATHEMATICS TO 
HUMAN MOVEMENT 

IN the last chapter I spoke of the different movements 
of the exercises as being necessarily related to one 
another, bound by certain laws which allow of no 
arbitrary change. 

Movement which is bound by law becomes geometrical, 
and geometrical law makes it impossible to vary the forma- 
tion of a curve beyond the limits of difference in size 
according as the relation between the curve and its pivot is 
altered. 

The centre of gravity of the combined curves produced 
by the movements of human limbs in space is the same as 
that for each individual curve, for the reason that the 
connection of each limb takes place at the same spot, 
viz., the centre of gravity of the main weight through 
which passes the axis of balance. When this vertical axis 
is in perfect equilibrium the limbs form the varying radii 
of a common axis, and the law which governs the mass 

1 In connection with this chapter, I would like to state beforehand 
what will doubtless be apparent, that I have never been taught mathe- 
matics. It is written for the average reader, and makes no pretensions 
towards erudition. 

43 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

governs each part ; therefore the centre of gravity of the 
combined mass of curves is the same as for each individual 
curve, and is found in the vertical axis through the pivot. 
As long as this remains stable, the curves described by the 
moving limbs are true, that is to say, they submit to geo- 
metrical analysis. A true curve is one which is pro- 
jected in regular and proportional sequence with relation 
to its centre. The radii of a circle are equal in length, 
and it is a true curve. A true curve may also be one 
whose radii vary in length with regular sequence. A false 
curve would be one whose radii have been subjected to 
irregular variation. 

In preference to the word " pivot " I would like to use 
the expression " axis of balance," as giving a fuller concep- 
tion of centre of gravity in space than is represented by a 
pivot on a plane surface. 

The axis of balance is the vertical line through the 
pivot about which the object turns, so in the case of the 
human being we will assume that it is the vertical line 
already mentioned from the centre of gravity of the main 
weight both upwards and downwards to its base, which 
latter constitutes the pivot, viz., the only point of weight 
contact on the horizontal plane. I specially use the word 
" weight-contact," because, although curves formed by the 
changes of movement of a human being come into occa- 
sional contact with the ground, there is no moment when 

44 



MATHEMATICS AND HUMAN MOVEMENT 

any of the weight suspended over the pivot is transferred 
to the moving limb, which merely touches the ground 
from time to time to mark the points of angles formed in 
the course of changing direction. 

The position of the pivot itself can be altered from 
time to time, thus varying the direction of the curves, but 
this variation of direction in no way falsifies the curves 
themselves, which are dependent only on their axis. Only 
when the axis itself vacillates do the curves become untrue ; 
that is to say, when it has lost tense connection with its 
curve-making limb through the strain necessitated by the 
maintenance of balance under a false equilibrium. 

Given this connection under inalterable conditions, the 
pivot itself may describe continuous and independent 
curves simultaneously with the moving arm and still 
govern those arm curves, provided the connection between 
the two is allowed freedom of movement. 

Some intensely interesting discoveries were made in 
this subject a few years ago by Colonel Hippisley, R.E., 
who gave a lecture at the Royal Society in 1904, at which 
he showed numerous complicated designs illustrating the 
extraordinary unexpected figures produced by a moving 
arm whose pivot was itself travelling round an ellipse 
continuously. 1 

1 I am indebted to Colonel Hippisley for the privilege of being allowed 
to reproduce for the first time three of his designs. 

45 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

He constructed an instrument in which one small wheel 
was fixed to a horizontal bar, which at one end held the 
point or pivot which was made to describe an ellipse. The 
movement of the vertical pivot point was continuous, and 
the movement of the following wheel at the end of the 
bar was free as far as lateral play on its guiding pivot 
was concerned ; but according as the bar itself was 
lengthened or shortened, so did the curves of the following 
wheel vary, and the designs formed become more or less 
complicated. 

Colonel Hippisley eventually discovered a certain ratio 
between the wheel and its pivot which produced curves 
that ultimately repeated themselves over exactly the same 
lines, so that they became changeless and endless. 

The variation of a hair's breadth in the length of the bar 
produced completely different curves ; and in all designs 
except this particular one of the repeating curves, the wheel 
eventually ran out of the figure altogether. 

Colonel Hippisley has most kindly allowed me to repro- 
duce three of these geometrical figures. Diagram I. shows 
the one in which the curves become changeless and endless. 
Diagrams II. and III. show the result of alterations in the 
length of the bar, where the following wheel, after numerous 
complicated gyrations forced upon it by the track of the 
guiding pivot round the ellipse, runs out of the figure at 
a tangent. As regards the solution of the problems which 



DIAGRAM I. 




Curves which ultimately become changeless and endless. 47 



DIAGRAM II. 




Diagram showing lines of entrance and exit. 



DIAGRAM III. 




A complicated puzzle. 



49 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

his own genius has discovered, he says that mathematical 
difficulties prevented the complete analysis of the curves 
from being set out. 

And so these wonderful and exquisite designs remain 
in a drawer for some future Euclid to elucidate. There 
seems some possibility that the elucidation might be of 
service in astronomical calculations, where the ellipse would 
appear the most frequent form of planetary movement ; 
and the idea presents itself of some unknown centre of 
gravity operating on an immense scale upon the whole 
system of worlds, forcing upon each, according to its 
distance from that centre, gyrations from which it cannot 
escape any more than can the following wheel of 
Colonel Hippisley's little instrument from its guiding 
pivot. It may be wondered why I have mentioned this 
discovery of Colonel Hippisley's in connection with 
my own geometrical movements, and the general 
opinion will be that it has no bearing whatever on 
my subject. Colonel Hippisley himself writes to me as 
follows : 

* So far as I am aware, the centre of gravity of the curve 
does not exercise any role in the theory, as it does in yours. 
I mention this lest you should be led to assert some such 
connection in your book. If you remember, what interested 
you in my curves was the psychological fact that the nearer 
the follower was to its guiding star, the more closely it 
50 



MATHEMATICS AND HUMAN MOVEMENT 

followed in its footsteps, which is a little parable from 
Nature. Or, rather, a parable from a much dryer subject, 
to wit, Mathematics." 

In connection with the last paragraph, I would class 
all parables from Nature as one with those found in mathe- 
matics, since all Nature's laws are based on the same 
principles, and all her different manifestations are merely 
varying expressions of these same fundamental laws. If 
I say that the force which governs my geometrical move- 
ments is that which makes the trees grow upwards, and 
which holds the stars in the firmament, I shall be accused 
of talking nonsense. It is, nevertheless, true ; only, 
instead of making the statement to start with, I am endea- 
vouring to show that by placing the human being in a 
condition whereby he is brought into stride, as it were, 
with the universal law of rhythm and harmony, through 
equilibrium, he is enabled through his finer and more 
sensitive physical development (which comes as a natural 
result of obedience to essential law) to come into direct 
connection with vital force itself, and share in far-reaching 
reactions which find no limit in the physical world ; while 
at the same time the physical expression of this vital force 
is made visible through movement, which is able to demon- 
strate the immediate relation between the two, and which, 
so far as I have been able to prove, operates solely in the 
vertical plane. 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

All movement, then, which is geometrical, is bound by 
mathematical law. The difference between necessarily 
related and arbitrary changes of movement is, that the 
first are inevitable and interdependent, while the second 
are the expression of an individual will, subjected to altera- 
tion at random. The two types of movement may be 
compared in the case of arbitrary change to freehand 
drawing, while that bound by mathematical law represents 
geometry, which, when repeated time after time, under 
the same conditions, shows barely a hair's breadth of 
variation. I do not wish to imply that arbitrary changes 
may not be both pleasing and interesting, but only 
that as curves they cannot be true, performed as they 
must be without a controlling principle. In the extra- 
ordinary precision of law-governed movement lies its 
beauty ; in its economy, not only of force but of 
elaboration. Complexity there may be, but of an order 
so defined that the mind is able to visualise design in 
clear-cut perfection, free from all that is superfluous or 
inessential. 

This definition gives even to the most complex move- 
ments an appearance of great simplicity and ease : simpli- 
city, because each movement is so right and true that it is 
a complete thing in itself, while yet it is an indispensable 
part of the whole, and the mind is left undisturbed by 
any feeling of uncertainty : ease, because through this 
52 



MATHEMATICS AND HUMAN MOVEMENT 

precision the fatigue of vacillation is absent ; there is no 
expenditure of force on the superfluous, because the 
superfluous no longer exists. 

Physical force, as generally recognisable, seems held 
in abeyance, while that which becomes visible is the 
energising will which enforces the calm certainty of every 
detail. The whole value of geometrical design as repre- 
sented by the movement of these basic exercises lies in the 
proof it affords of the truth of the fundamental principle 
which governs them. They represent a highly complicated 
system controlled by a single principle, yet capable of 
manifold application. 

My first attempt to render in design the movements of 
each exercise proved sufficiently interesting to make it 
worth while to obtain some proof which should be incon- 
trovertible, for although the freehand drawings I first made 
were actually accurate as to design, they could only be 
proved so by one who knew the movements as well as 
myself. The only definite proof then was photography, 
and it is once more to the Institut Marey, to the generous 
help of Professor Richet, and to the untiring genius of 
Mons. Lucien Bull that I owe the proof I was eventually 
able to produce. 

What I wanted was the effect of white lines on a black 
ground, and how to get them was the problem. It was 
eventually solved by taking photographs at night, with tiny 

53 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

electric bulbs attached to each foot. 1 The first attempts 
were made with lights on the arms and head, as well as on 
the feet, but the complication of movement in the two 
planes made the curves so intricate that eventually all lights 
were eliminated except those on each foot. The designs 
therefore represent the leg movement only, on the hori- 
zontal plane, and some idea may be formed of the intricacy 
of the complete movement when that of the arms is added, 
which latter is almost invariably on the vertical plane. 
Not only this ; the camera being about thirty feet in a 
vertical line above my head, rendered all curves in that 
plane either distorted, or represented as straight lines 
merely. Two prints of each negative are given. The 
first, marked A, is the untouched print, as it comes from 
the cliche, in which most of the curves are broken at some 
point or other. This is due to the passing of the foot 
so closely under the body that its light is obscured from 
above. This was, of course, impossible to avoid, but as 
it renders the definition of the design in some cases some- 

1 As no photographs of the kind have ever been taken in the horizontal 
plane, we were much puzzled as to what name to give the " proceed." 

Professor Marey, in his experiments with " points brillants " in the 
vertical plane, calls the method " La chronophotographie ge"ometrique " 
or " La procec!6 des points brillants." 

Mons. Lucien Bull, however, suggests what seems a more correct and 
simpler description of the method. " Enregistrement optique "or, in 
English, optical registration conveys a very clear idea of the particular 
photography, which gives geometrical proof of my theory, and therefore I 
shall appropriate this definition for the special process we adopted. 

54 



MATHEMATICS AND HUMAN MOVEMENT 

what difficult to follow for everyone except myself, I have 
in each case shown a second print in which all the curves 
have been completed, as also the straight lines. This 
second print is marked B. The curves represent the 
moving foot ; the straight lines show the alteration in 
direction of the pivot foot on which the whole weight 
of the body is maintained. The white spots indicate the 
pauses between two movements, where the toe touches 
the ground for an instant, marking the accentuation of 
the varying angles, but the curves themselves are, with- 
out exception, described in space. Besides the two photo- 
graphic prints, I have drawn a corrected geometrical version 
of each one of the series, for the purpose of rendering the 
design more clearly as pattern, and in giving the key to 
the movement of each design, the geometrical version 
should be followed, as on these will be found the little 
arrows and lettering which indicate the movement of one 
sequence of a series, and the comparison with the original 
prints will render these perfectly clear. The geometrical 
version of these prints demonstrates in a very striking 
manner their resemblance to some of the oldest known 
designs, which for thousands of years have been associated 
with mystic interpretation. Take, for instance, Plate XI. 
This is the design represented by Exercise IV., 1 and is 

1 A detailed description of all the exercises will be found in a Supple- 
ment at the end of the book. 

55 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

none other than that used by the Chinese, Hindus, and 
Egyptians thousands of years ago to represent Eternity 
the thing that is Infinite. In the actual photograph of 
this design, Print A y it will be noticed that the two large 
outer curves do not come back into each other's orbit. 
This was a fault in my movement which however I have 
left, as an illustration is often clearer through its faults than 
its perfections. If you will turn to the description of 
Exercise IV., you will probably see at once what went 
wrong in the movement of an otherwise very fine curve. 

In the outward swing of the moving leg, the foot came 
to the ground before it had been placed exactly under 
the centre of gravity of the body. Had it been brought 
in a few inches farther before being placed as base, it would 
have made a curve that would have merged into the orbit 
of the other leg movement when the exercise was repeated 
on the opposite side. I have rectified this in the geometrical 
version, showing the completed and corrected curve. 

At a lecture in Paris where I showed these designs for 
the first time in January, 1911, they created some little 
sensation among those of my audience interested in occult 
science, as having a probable connection with those of the 
Rosicrucian Mysteries, and also with other symbols of far 
older origin. It is both interesting and curious that any 
complete exercise should represent so exactly the ancient 
symbol of eternity, except that both the small thing and 

56 



MATHEMATICS AND HUMAN MOVEMENT 

the great thing are governed by the same principle, and 
it may be that the infinitesimal example of what may be 
demonstrated by human movement is one of the manifold 
applications of the fundamental principles of which I 
spoke. The elaboration of design, conceived from human 
movement in a perfect condition of equilibrium, would 
undoubtedly form a reliable basis for that used in archi- 
tecture, in which lift and expansion on a firm base give 
to the curves of a Gothic arch the actual appearance of 
harmonised movement ; so much so that one lifts to the 
sight of them, while the lungs expand in deep spontaneous 
breaths. I use the word " harmonised " movement here, 
in its original Greek sense, meaning balanced ; harmony 
representing originally a fastening, a key-stone. Homer 
used the word by its different meanings. "It is by the 
aid of wedges and * harmonies ' of some. sort that Odysseus 
joins his twenty trees together to form the raft whereon he 
sails away from Calypso's Isle." It also came to mean 
a mental union, or joining together, and later on an expres- 
sion of Law and Order. Finally, it is used in music to 
represent the " linked sweetness " of sound joining sound. 1 
It is in this sense that' Homer uses " melody," as repre- 
senting duration of sound, regulated by perfectly balanced 
rhythm. 

By reducing the whole series of basic exercises to 
1 " Makers of Hellas," E. E. G., p. 103. 

57 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

geometrical demonstration, it has been possible to prove 
the truth of their underlying principle. The combination 
of force, equilibrium, and beauty is the result of that 
principle ; beauty in movement being the outcome of the 
economy of force which is the direct result of a perfect 
equilibrium. Control over the expenditure of effort ; 
reserve of expression ; these are only possible under a 
condition of perfect balance. 

Looking again at Plate XL, it will be seen that the 
two central curves are not vertical to each other as they 
should be ; that is to say, the upper one is on the slant, 
although the curve itself is quite true. This was the heel 
movement in the second exercise, viz., the repetition, and 
it will be seen that on the return journey I did not land 
quite in the right spot, judging from a vertical bisecting 
line, although the horizontal is correct. The photographs 
of the whole series are the first and only ones which have 
been taken, and many faults are apparent ; but as these in 
no way detract from their value as demonstrations, but, 
on the contrary, make it rather easier to explain their 
meaning, I have left them untouched. Later on, I hope to 
make another series, in which most of the faults apparent 
in the first examples will have disappeared. The key to 
the movement of Plate XL is given on Plate XII., the 
geometrical version, and is as follows : 

A is the starting-point of both feet, from which the 

58 



PLATE XI 





Copyright.] 

Optical Registration of Exercise IV. 



PLATE XII. 




Copyright.] 



Geometrical Version of Plate XI. 



MATHEMATICS AND HUMAN MOVEMENT 

right foot takes a step back until the heel is on the spot 
on the line between B and C, and is marked " heel pivot." 
The toe of the right foot should be touching B. The 
small curve from B to C is that formed by the toe-light of 
the right foot, while pivoting on the heel, and is marked 
with arrows to show direction. The large curve from A 
to Z), also marked with arrows, is that produced by the 
left leg movement as it swings out wide from the hip, 
carrying the whole body round on its pivot heel. The 
dotted line from D to C represents the line of recovery 
of the left foot during the spring back to an erect position 
close to the right foot, but had the curves been quite 
correct this would not have shown. As it is, it elucidates 
the movement admirably. 

It will be remembered that two repetitions of this 
exercise are needed to form the design, as each one com- 
pletes a half-circle, and it will therefore be simpler to 
reverse the diagram when following out the movement 
of the repetition, which, it must be remembered, begins 
with a step back of the left foot. 

Now look at the little constellation formed by Exer- 
cise III., shown on Plate XIII., A and B. How organic 
are the curves they might be a chart of Jupiter and his 
moons showing their separate orbits ! 

These curves are all archimedean in form, though the 
whole constellation gives the impression of circles. And, 

59 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

indeed, the group forms, with its outer curves and spots, 
both a perfect circle and a perfect square, while an equally 
perfect square and tiny circle are formed in the centre. 
It will be noticed that there are four prints on this plate. 
C and D are two prints from a different negative, in which 
one movement was eliminated for the purpose of leaving 
the centre clear and thus affording a clearer definition of 
the curves. This will be described later on. 

Refer now to the geometrical version on Plate XIV., 
and, bearing in mind the exercise itself, take A as the 
starting-point of both feet. From A to X in the centre 
represents the first lunge of the left foot, which stays at 
point X with the whole weight upon it, and with well-bent 
knee, a position important to remember as it causes the 
special formation of the curves. The wide, sweeping 
curve of the right foot as it comes round on the gradually 
straightening left knee, is represented by arrows going 
towards, and stopping at, point B. It will now be seen 
that the upward rise of the left knee transforms what would 
have formed an arc of a circle into an archimedean curve, 
and as, in its narrowing circle, it passes in front of the 
body, turning it into a right angle to the first position, the 
tip of the toe comes to the ground at point B and the curve 
is finished. The movement now becomes a backward 
curve of the right foot, performed in exactly the same 
manner as the first, and represented by arrows going 
60 



PLATE XIII. 

A B 



D 





Copyright.] 



Optical Registration of Exercise III. 



PLATE XIV. 




Copyright.] 



Geometrical Version of Plate XIII. 



MATHEMATICS AND HUMAN MOVEMENT 

towards and stopping at point C. But this time the curve 
is performed on a downward bend of the left knee, so that 
the descending curve widens as it progresses, and finally 
arrives at point C, where it forms the inward curve of the 
next angle, and so on through the four repetitions. The 
four lines radiating from the centre show the lunge and 
recovery of the left foot ; forwards and backwards each 
time as the exercise is repeated at the four angles, and it 
will be noticed how accurately the dots are placed denoting 
the pauses at the culmination of each upward curve, con- 
sidering the complication of the repetitions. They are 
almost exactly mid-distance between each pair of straight 
lines. The little circle of dots in the centre, which is 
complete except for the eighth dot, forms an infinitesimal 
octagon, outlined by the movement of the ball of the left 
foot, which, to each right-angle turn of the body, makes 
two acute-angle movements. The two prints C and D 
are those of the same exercise, but with the recovery 
movement left out. This makes the whole exercise a 
series of curves on a rising and falling centre line, the base, 
viz., the left foot, being immovable except for the acute- 
angle turn, as each sweeping curve of the right leg brings 
the body round to a right angle. The small octagon 
formed by these acute-angle turns is barely shown, how- 
ever, in these two prints, as the body remains almost 
entirely over the foot, there being no spring back of the 

61 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

recovery to disclose the left foot light, which is here shown 
only three times by accident. This exercise, in which the 
recovery movement is eliminated, forms a wonderful test 
for the tendon Achilles, which has to bear the greatest 
strain ; for, after each swing back of the right leg, it misses 
the relief of the recovery movement, and is obliged to start 
immediately on the upward spring for the next rising curve. 
As in the case of A and J5, four repetitions are needed to 
complete the figure. 

The knowledge of angles formed by movement, and 
the power to connect them by perfect curves, must come 
from actual experience, and that experience will be the 
result of an increased sense-activity whose dynamic action 
has been trained and developed in the understanding of 
essential principles. But until the fundamental law of 
equilibrium is thoroughly understood and its principles are 
easy of practice, the designs will be about as much use 
towards acquiring a knowledge of balance as a geometrical 
theorem would be without a compass with which to work 
it out. The sole value I place upon them myself is the 
indisputable proof they afford of the correctness of the 
principle on which the exercises are based. What their 
connection may be with the secret symbols of antiquity 
would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to prove, 
as no authentic description of the ceremonies through 
which the initiated had to pass has ever escaped the rigid 
62 



MATHEMATICS AND HUMAN MOVEMENT 

secrecy in which they were bound. It would, however, 
seem not unlikely that at these ceremonies of initiation 
the novice would go through certain movements, and it 
is possible that these movements were afterwards repre- 
sented by pattern, as being the best way to hide their real 
meaning. Just as, in the same way, the alchemists had a 
sort of code of secret signs to indicate the process by which 
the precious metals were mixed, together with the exact 
quantities required, and other details known only to them- 
selves, and jealously guarded. But it is doubtful whether 
it has ever been realised that the human being, trained to 
the knowledge and practice of perfect balance in movement, 
may himself become the most accurate mathematical 
instrument ! Otherwise a knowledge of the law needed 
as a means to this end would have made itself apparent in 
all the different systems of physical training ; whereas 
it appears in none, since the days of the Greeks at their 
zenith. 

It will be noticed that in almost all of the geometrical 
drawings the arcs of actual movement have been rendered 
circles by the addition of dotted lines. This plan was 
adopted for the clearer rendering of the design as pattern, 
the actual movement being sufficiently obvious in the 
thicker lines. But the dotted lines have only been added 
where it would have been actually possible to render them 
in leg movement, so that where they do not exist, only 

63 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

those curves that are shown could be demonstrated phy- 
sically. From the point of view of pattern, it would, of 
course, be quite easy to complete them, and thus complicate 
the design. 

So far, the only experiments in photography repre- 
senting movement in detail have been those of the late 
Professor Marey, of Professor Charles Richet (his suc- 
cessor, as President of the Institut Marey), and of Pro- 
fessor Pettigrew, who wrote an important work dealing 
with the discoveries made at the Institut Marey, and adding 
some of his own in connection with human and animal 
movement. But nothing more complicated than what 
Professor Pettigrew called " the figure of eight " was 
brought to light. This " figure of eight " was formed by 
the alternating of the feet in walking, both by human beings 
and animals. The experiments were most interesting, but 
seem to have been made in connection with unconscious 
and spontaneous movement only, so that in making a 
distinction between my own and theirs, I would point out 
that the designs formed by the exercises already explained 
represent consciously-reasoned movement subject to law, 
as opposed to unconscious and spontaneous movements of 
habit. This does not imply that unconscious spontaneous 
movements may not also be governed by law. As a rule, 
the more unconscious and spontaneous a movement is, 
the more graceful it becomes, and the graceful, beautiful 



MATHEMATICS AND HUMAN MOVEMENT 

thing is the thing that is right and true. But modern 
conditions make almost impossible the free expression of 
the law which governs the unconsciously beautiful thing. 
It is true that Nature reasserts herself the moment she is 
allowed her liberty, but it is rare that any but primitive 
races show any of the unconscious beauty of movement, 
and as soon as these races come in touch with civilisation, 
the fetters of a misguided progress rob them of all their 
dignified bearing and elasticity of tread. Under natural 
conditions, the law of balance is able to assert itself without 
its being known or understood by the object expressing 
it. Under modern conditions, it must be studied as the 
alphabet of all physical training, carefully practised, rigidly 
adhered to, if any check is to be given to the hideous 
inroads upon fine development made by heels, hobbles, 
and similar atrocities. For the modern human being, 
familiar with all the latest developments of Science, there 
will be no difficulty in recognising as an axiom that only 
under the control of fundamental law can freedom find its 
fullest expression. 

Do you remember the description of Camilla, of the 
Volscians, when she went out at the head of her regiment 
to fight against Aeneas ? " Therewith came Camilla, the 
Volscian, leading a train of cavalry, squadrons splendid 
with brass : a virgin warrior ... a maiden hard to 
endure the battle shock and outstrip the winds with racing 

65 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

feet. She might have flown across the topmost blades of 
corn and left the tender ears unhurt as she ran, or sped 
her way over mid sea upborne by the swelling flood, nor 
dipt her swift feet in the water." * 

Where is the modern Camilla whose feet can show the 
spring and glory of a free and natural development ? 

1 " The Aeneid of Virgil." J. W. Mackail. 



66 



CHAPTER VI 

THE INTERPRETATION OF SCULPTURE BY THE 
LAWS OF BALANCE 



I 



necessity for mathematical accuracy in phy- 
sical training, on which I place such immense 
importance, does not imply that all movement 
based on this principle must be obviously geometrical. 
On the contrary, the more accurate, the more perfectly 
balanced, movement becomes, the less visible will be the 
means by which it is produced. Only the most perfect 
mathematical accuracy in training can produce the finest 
' techne" This applies to all the Arts, especially to 
painting, where the disguised simplicity in the work of 
Leonardo da Vinci, of Titian, and, in our times, of Sargent, 
owes its faultless perfection to the infinitesimal details of 
perspective and form, which are responsible for the balanced 
harmony of the whole effect, and which were minutely 
blocked out on the canvases before even the lightest touch 
of the brush was attempted. Freedom of expression came 
afterwards, when the thing to be expressed was clear and 
definite in form and accurate in perspective. 

In the case of human movement, the careful adherence 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

to the most accurate form of geometrical exercise for the 
purpose of actual training allows of a far greater subsequent 
freedom of expression, when it comes to sports in general, 
and dancing in particular. 

The controlled human being is the free human being. 
With muscles trained to respond to the finest variations of 
balance, he can allow himself far greater liberty than one 
unaccustomed to movements of extreme precision and 
difficult balance. 

This principle of balance in movement is of the greatest 
importance in the study of antique sculpture, where in 
many cases so little is left to indicate what the statues were 
really doing. Although dogmatic assertions respecting 
them are no doubt dangerous, it is at any rate obvious 
in many cases painfully obvious in the light of modern 
restorations what they were not doing. Take, for ex- 
ample, the Discobolus of the Vatican in the Sala della 
Biga. If the man who placed the head of the Discobolus 
looking forward, with the neck muscles twisted and strained, 
had practised the throwing of the discus, such a mistake 
would have been impossible. Had he been an athlete, 
the swing back of the discus arm would have shown him 
the necessity of freeing the neck muscles to their utmost 
to prevent strain, and consequent check, on the forward 
swing of the arm. But it is impossible to reconstruct the 
movement of a perfect Greek athlete, unless one feels the 
68 



SCULPTURE AND LAWS OF BALANCE 

thing he was doing ; unless one's own muscles respond to 
the life and spring that the Greek sculptors were able to 
chisel into their marble. 

How is it possible to realise all they mean unless one 
can go straightway and do likewise ! 

The revelation of what Myron's Discobolus meant in 
movement was, I remember, a great joy ; the changes of 
position from start to finish are so varied ; one or two, 
particularly that of the finish, quite as beautiful as the 
central poise. 

There were evidently several ways of throwing the 
discus. It might be done standing, in which case the 
arm began its forward swing from well above the head ; 
whereas in taking the run forward the arm swings very 
little above the horizontal before descending for the throw. 

There is an example of the standing position in the 
Uffizi Gallery at Florence, supposed to be a copy of one by 
Myron, but a very poor specimen in every way, and not 
worth reproducing here. 

The Archer of the Aegina Pediment was, as I said in 
the first chapter, the first statue that I brought back to 
life ; and I shall never forget the joy and excitement of 
the moment when I became Herakles ! when I found 
how quickly and silently he dropped into ambush with 
that wonderful poise on the right toes, and, without another 
movement, let fly his arrow. With him I sprang up to see 

69 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

whether I had got my man. Yes ! There was a neat 
little round hole in the screen at the far end of my room. 
There were many more before I had finished ; the exhilara- 
tion of the two perfectly-balanced movements, the drop 
and the upward spring, was worth more to me than the 
screen. 

The statue is smiling ; a little proud, half-contemptuous 
smile, for not very far off is Paris, also shooting ; very 
correctly and immaculately turned out, but with one knee 
on the ground. He couldn't balance on his toes, and so 
Herakles sits there with a little confident smile, poised on 
his toes, as other men use their knees, and quite as firmly. 

I think I am right in saying that no one has ever before 
given an explanation of the movement of this marvellous 
archer figure. His dress and helmet and expression have 
all been carefully described 1 but his movement, his poise ? 
Well, he was placed in the narrowing angle of the Pedi- 
ment, and it was necessary to make him crouching, or he 
would not have fitted in ! 

After the Archer and the Discobolus, I next turned 
my attention to the Charioteer of the Capitol in Rome. 
In this case, both arms, and the whole of the left leg, are 
missing, but the position of the right leg gives clear indi- 
cation of what he is doing. Plate XV. is the only photo- 
graph there is of this statue, although the profile is a much 

1 See " Histoire de la Sculpture grecque," p. 265. M. Colignon. 
70 



PLATE XV. 




Photo Alinari.] 

The Charioteer of the Capitol, Rome 



SCULPTURE AND LAWS OF BALANCE 

finer view. He is leaping into his chariot ; the signal has 
dropped for the start of the race, and, with arms fully 
outstretched against the strain of eager horses, he is taking 
what in Greek would be described as the " leap that is 
flying." 

The movement of this charioteer proved intensely 
interesting. Professor Loewy describes him as follows : 

" C'est un jeune homme dans 1'attitude de quelqu'un 
qui se dispose a monter peut-tre sur un char. Mais dans 
une telle position aura-t-on Pidee de se forcer a tenir le 
buste si raide ? " l 

The " idea " would only occur to one whose muscles 
were in perfect condition ; to one whose training had 
taught him the best way to carry a well-balanced body on 
reliable springs ; but that is exactly what the charioteer 
did know, and that is why he looks so calm and confident, 
as though he were doing nothing at all. 

Professor Loewy, who saw me give an actual demon- 
stration of the movement in Rome, was kind enough to 
say that he thought the reconstruction of the leap of the 
Charioteer " very beautiful," but thought it could hardly 
be called " natural," for the simple reason that no one 
but myself would trouble to keep the back straight when 
" mounting a chair or any other object of the same height." 

1 From a letter. See also " Die griechische Plastik," pp. 109, no. 
Loewy. 

71 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

I acknowledged that the movement performed under 
a condition of perfect balance was not habitual, and would 
probably be impossible for nearly everyone ; but the reason 
for this lies in the fact that the modern human being has 
wandered so far from the thing that is finest in Nature, 
that he is unable to realise that the habitual movements 
are really those which are wnnatural. 

It is interesting to note the curious explanations given 
for certain positions in sculpture, for the simple reason 
that it has either not occurred to, or not been possible for, 
the critic to test the truth of the explanation on his own 
muscles. 

One of the most striking examples of this is in con- 
nection with the statue called the " Heros Combattant " at 
the Louvre. 

In a detailed and very fine general description of the 
statue, Professor Colignon states that the position of the 
left foot, which is turned out at right angles to that of the 
right, is for the purpose of widening the base. 

If Plate XVI . A is studied carefully, it will be seen 
that the whole weight of the body is forward over the 
right foot. The right foot, therefore, constitutes the base, 
and the left has nothing to do with it and is merely touching 
the ground with the toes, which have absolutely no weight 
over them. Why, then, is the foot turned outwards when, 
if another lunge is made, it in turn will be brought forward 
72 



- 




w 

h 
< 

H-l 




I 

(J 

Cfl 

2 

VQJ 
ffi' 



and presumably placed upon the ground as straight as 
the right now stands ? For this reason, the pause is a 
momentary one, in what has been a furious rush forward. 
There are attacks to be parried on every side, and the 
shield arm is raised, while the sword arm is ready for the 
counter- thrust. It might be Hector cutting his way through 
the raging battle around him in the effort to rescue the 
body of Sarpedon : 

" And in rushed Hector, fierce and grim as any stormy night, 
His brass arms round about his breast, reflected terrible light . . . 
None but the Gods might check his way, his eyes were furnaces ..." 

Every muscle in the body is in the utmost tension, all 
are bound together as one connected spring, and the 
position of the left foot is for the sole purpose of pre- 
serving tense connection at the left hip, so that no extra 
weight of a disconnected limb should overbalance the body, 
poised as it is on the right foot. Note the hollow formed 
by the tense muscle where the thigh bone is turned right 
back into the socket of the hip. 

The secret of the out- turned foot lies there, for it is 
only by turning out the foot of that tense, vibrating leg 
that it can be held locked in the hip, part of the spine, 
one with the whole weight of the body. If, when the leg 
is tense and locked, the foot is lifted from the ground, it 
will be found that the movement in no way affects the 
poise ; but if, on the contrary, the toes are turned in 

73 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

towards the front, the balance will collapse at once over the 
left side, and any attempt to lift the foot clear of the ground 
will prove impossible. 

It is quite easy to test this by taking as nearly as possible 
the position of the warrior, keeping the weight entirely 
over the right foot, and holding the left leg as tense as 
possible. Now, try turning the left toes in towards the 
front, and follow carefully what happens to the leg at the 
hip. It immediately becomes unlocked, and as a result 
the extra weight drags the body down over the left in a 
way that makes it impossible to keep the balance an instant, 
especially if the position is tried with the extra weight 
of a shield on the left arm ; though, if the test be made 
with this additional weight on the left, the sword must be 
held in the right, or the test will not be accurate. 

There are so many examples of this position in antique 
sculpture that it seems strange that the reason for the 
invariable position of the left foot should not have been 
given before. One of the finest is that of the bronze figure 
of the Fighting Theseus, at the Bibliotheque Nationale in 
Paris, a photograph of which is given on Plate XVI." 
In this case, it will be seen that the left foot is barely 
touching the ground, and the whole poise is beautifully 
accurate on the right foot. When this left foot is turned 
in, that is to say, when the toes, bent or otherwise, are in 
line with the heel, the weight of the body becomes divided 

74 



X. 
w 





SCULPTURE AND LAWS OF BALANCE 

between the two feet, and when this happens in a lunging 
position, the left knee bends under a strain almost impos- 
sible to bear, and must soon come to the ground as base 
for the whole weight ; whereas, if the left foot is turned 
out, even with the knee bent to the utmost, the weight 
of the body can quite easily be kept off the ground. This 
fact is very finely demonstrated in the beautiful marble 
statue ascribed to Myron, which is in the Terme Museum 
in Rome, and is known as the Youth of Subiaco, shown 
on Plate XVII. A The impression one receives from 
the position is that of exhaustion, collapse, as though he 
were making a last desperate defence against an attack 
from above, in which case he is most probably meant to 
represent Ganymede defending himself against the eagle. 
The base is obviously the left knee, which in another 
moment will be on the ground. An interesting fact to be 
noticed is, that had the position been intended to represent 
anything else than collapse, the left foot would have been 
placed lying over on the inside line with the ankle on the 
ground, for in this position the knee is locked into its 
hold, and the side muscles then form so strong a spring 
that the weight of the body can be transferred with equal 
ease on to either one foot or the other. This alternative 
position is represented on Plate XVII. 8 , in which it will 
be seen that the poise gives no impression of exhaustion, 
but rather that of a spring held in abeyance, and the change 

75 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

has been made by the position of the left foot alone. Com- 
pare the two lines from the left shoulder to the left foot 
in the photograph of the statue and that of myself. In 
my own it is unbroken, and the eye travels unchecked 
from one to the other. But take that of the statue, and it 
will be found that the eye is forced to stop at the knee, 
the whole drag is there, and one feels relieved to see the 
little support under it, in spite of the fact that it is not 
supposed to be there, being merely a sculptural necessity. 
The whole of this difference in line and in the impression 
it produces is due to the angle of the left foot alone ; but 
this one detail means everything to the balance of the 
body. 

The next statue, the position of which interested me 
very much, was the wounded Amazon of the Vatican, 
shown on Plate XVIII. She is very beautiful ; but as to 
whether she is a true Pheidias or not, I would not venture 
an opinion ; or even as to whether she has been given the 
right head, although this I should think doubtful, judging 
from the abrupt angle at which it springs from the shoulders. 
The interest for me lies in the way in which her arms 
have been restored, for both were lost ; but there was 
sufficient indication to make it obvious that the right arm 
was raised. It has been restored bent right back in a hori- 
zontal line across the top of her head, and although it 
looks rather aimless to be bending a bow in such a strained 



PLATE XVIII 




Photo Alinari.] 



The Amazon of the Vatican. 



SCULPTURE AND LAWS OF BALANCE 

position while gazing sadly on the ground with averted 
face, yet there appears to be no reason why the position 
should be impossible ; that is to say, no reason appears 
when studying her from the front, and this seems to be 
the only point of view taken into consideration by her 
restorer. 

By great good fortune, I had the opportunity recently 
of studying a cast of this statue, with permission to perform 
upon her any surgical operation I pleased, so I promptly 
cut off her arms to the line of the original break, and she 
stood revealed for there is nothing so baffling as a wrong 
restoration. Plate XIX . A shows my version of her 
position. The work of restoration must, of course, not 
be criticised, it is purely amateur, but, in spite of this, 
the position of the arms is as I wished to represent 
them. 1 

Looking at these two photographs, both taken from 
the same point of view, one sees nothing to justify my 
assertion that the position of the right arm in the original 
restoration makes it quite impossible for her to stand 
for an instant. It is not till we look at the figure from 
other angles that such an excessive lean forward is apparent, 
that nothing but the great weight of the base (extraneous 
to the figure) could keep the statue from toppling over. 

1 The photographs of the altered cast were taken by myself and appear 
for the first time here. 

77 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

This can already be seen from a three-quarter view of the 
left side of the statue, and Plate XIX." shows this 
position, where, if a vertical line is drawn from the centre 
of gravity just under the right breast, it will reach the 
ground about two inches in front of the base of the cast, 
and about five or six inches in front of the right foot, on 
which, it can be seen at a glance, she is leaning very heavily. 
There is absolutely no weight on the left foot ; she is 
saving it all she can, for it is obviously wounded, and I 
picture her leaning on her lance, for she is in pain. 

Now look at Plate XIX . c , and try blocking out the 
restored right arm as well as the lance, and see how uncom- 
fortable it is to look at such an overbalancing weight. I 
believe the usual contention is that statues were made to 
be looked at from the front, but no sculptor of repute, 
much less Pheidias himself, would have committed the 
crime of placing her in an untenable position, for the 
reason that it would not be noticed from the front ; and 
surely the profile shown on Plate XIX . c is sufficient 
proof that she must have had a support of some kind, for 
she could not possibly have stood where she was for an 
instant without one. I believe it is asserted that Pheidias 
never added accessories ; but it would not have been 
necessary for him actually to add the lance. A people so 
familiar as the Greeks with the laws of balance, which 
they practised every day at the Palaestra, would have 

78 



PLATE XX. 




Photo Giraudon.] 



The Athena of the Aeginetan Pediment 



SCULPTURE AND LAWS OF BALANCE 

grasped his meaning from the mere position of the hand, 
or from the addition of a lance-head alone. The fact that 
she is not walking, but is in repose, makes her position still 
more impossible without support. 

The theory that nearly all antique sculpture was meant 
to be viewed from the front may be carried too far when 
movements of the body which might be ascribed to quite 
other causes are explained as having been chosen by the 
sculptor for the purpose of representing as much as possible 
of two planes, irrespective of the anatomical possibility 
of the position. A typical example of what I mean will 
be found in the Pallas Athena of the Aeginetan Pediment, 
shown on Plate XX. Her face and shoulders are 
square to the spectator, while her feet are turning away 
to the left at considerably more than an acute angle, and 
she stands with lifted spear and shield. Whoever chiselled 
this splendid goddess of the strong brow and far-seeing 
eyes cared little for the showing of her front view simply 
as front view. Look at the feet ; once again they indicate, 
as always, the movement that is to come. Had they been 
facing the front with the rest of the body, Pallas Athena 
would have been brooding, dreaming, making fresh plans 
for the protection of her favourites or the overthrow of 
their enemies. But her feet are moving already, -she is 
in the midst of her beloved Greeks, inciting, encouraging, 
leading, and always with the calm and reassuring smile 

79 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

that knows its own power. She is facing round for an 
instant to give some advice or encouragement ; the next 
moment may see her spear arm aloft, her body swung to 
the other side, with the position of her feet barely 
changed. 

These gods and goddesses of splendid build and perfect 
aliveness needed no clumsy change of feet to enable them 
to turn round and see what was happening behind them. 
Those lithe tense bodies could twist as they pleased. A 
goddess who could not command three points of the 
horizon without having to turn her feet was no true god- 
dess ; and as a sculptor's conception of a god or goddess 
was based on the movements of the finest men and women 
around him, he must often have seen examples of this 
movement. 

Look, too, at the little figure of the Athena in Plate 
XXI., as she dismounts from the chariot in which Herakles 
is to be carried to Olympus. She serves to illustrate two 
points. First, her beautiful little straight back ; now, look 
at the way she is turning completely round from the waist, 
her right hand still holding the reins perfectly taut until 
she is actually on the ground ; all the lower part of her 
body is stepping out from the back of the chariot, while 
her head and shoulders are still facing the horses. 

There are numerous other examples of this position in 
vase-paintings, all of them vibrating with the full and 

80 



XI 

X 

w 




PLATE XXII. 




Copyright.] 

Representation of a Vase Painting of the Athena. 



PLATE XXIII. 




Copyright.} 

A complete Volte-face without lifting the Feet. 



SCULPTURE AND LAWS OF BALANCE 

perfected activity that made these movements natural as 
well as habitual ; and therefore it is impossible to conceive 
either painters or sculptors as men unable to get beyond 
the representation of two planes. Look at them now in 
the new light of a far different activity from that which 
is expressed by the movement of a modern human being, 
and the two-plane theory disappears. 

Two photographs are shown on Plates XXII. and 
XXIII., in which the body has taken different positions 
without any movement of the feet except a slight pivoting. 
Both positions will be found on vase-paintings. 

The last statue I have chosen to represent here is that 
of the little goddess Fortuna, shown on Plate XXIV., an 
exquisite little bronze statue in the Naples Museum. Some 
archaeologists say she was meant to be flying and that 
parts of the wings are left, also that the globe does not 
belong to the statue, being of a much later period. This 
is all possible, and yet, who, looking at her as she stands 
serenely poised, can deny that the man who restored her 
thus was inspired ? Silent and immovable she stands, on 
a bronze globe garlanded with spring flowers, to represent 
the Earth. Drawn up on to the extreme point of her toes, 
she looks as though hovering over the world, light as 
thistledown, and yet, in her tense, vibrating immobility, 
she is the very essence of Force, an expression of the 
controlled Will Power which dominates, while yet able to 

81 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

rise above things earthly. Plate XXV. is my reproduction 
of this statue as an example of pure poise. I have shown 
it in profile so that the position of the feet may be more 
clearly seen, and also to prove that the balance is main- 
tained solely by the tremendous grip of the toes, the ball 
of the foot being raised some distance above them. This 
photograph forms also a good illustration of the possibility, 
under a special condition of Tension, of standing on a 
smooth sphere without any artificial aid, drawn up on to 
the first phalanx of the toes, and maintaining the position 
for nearly two minutes. 

Plate XXVI. is a reproduction of the position of the 
Aphrodite in the painting found at the Villa Item, in 
which she is teaching the infant Dionysus to dance on his 
little toes. Plate XXVII. is a photograph of the move- 
ment which constitutes the recurring motif of the dance, 
viz., that of the Greek Dancing Boy, one of the finest 
of the vase-paintings, and shown in diagram on the 
next page. It was a great puzzle to know how he arrived 
at such a position as the result of a harmonious and rhyth- 
mical change, because the mere lifting back of one foot at 
intervals would have been anything but a beautiful move- 
ment. Eventually, I found what he was doing, and recon- 
structed the beautiful curves which led up to his poise. 
I also found that it was impossible to arrive at it except on 
the ball of the toes. 
82 



PLATE XXIV. 




Photo Alinari.] 



The Goddess Fortuna (Naples Museum), 



PLATE XXV, 




Copyright.] 



Poise of the Fortuna in Profile. 



PLATE XXVI, 




Copyright.] 



Position of the Aphrodite at the Villa Item, 



PLATE XXVII. 




Copyright.] 



Position of the Greek Dancing Boy. 



SCULPTURE AND LAWS OF BALANCE 

With these last photographs I close the first part of the 
book, for with this chapter ends all that is demonstrable 
by photograph or design. 

Three aspects of a train- 
ing in balance under Tension 
have been studied : that in re- 
lation to physical develop- 
ment, that connected with 
mathematics, and finally that 
which applies to sculpture. 
There are still two more 
phases to be examined, but 
what follows can be shown 
by no photographs, proved 
by no designs. 

So far, I have dealt with 
actions, definite and visible. 
Henceforth reactions take 
their place, just as definite, 
just as visible, but on a 
different plane, and in the 
end of far more intrinsic 
value. 

Vase Painting of a Dancing Boy. 




CHAPTER VII 

MENTAL REACTIONS 

" The laws of moral nature answer to those of matter as face to face 
in a glass . . . 

" The axioms of physics translate the laws of ethics. Thus : Reaction 
is equal to action." 

EMERSON. 

IN the formulation of a new theory, child of one's own 
brain, one is confronted with many difficulties, not 
the least among them being that of making intelligible 
the language with which it has spoken at birth ; a language 
quite clear to its parent, rendered so by the absence of any 
necessity for actual utterance, and above all for the reason 
that one has lived with it from its birth and become familiar 
with its every expression. 

The theory enunciated in the following chapters is the 
result of five years' work, during which every step was 
proved, not only in my own experience, but in that of 
many others. It is offered because it is a conviction 
drawn from ideas, practice, experience and realisation. 

The reflex action of physical movement upon the brain 
is not yet generally recognised, although the admitted 
relation between muscle and mind has been proved by 



MENTAL REACTIONS 

the latest method of training a mentally deficient child 
through motor culture to intellectual. But I have gone 
farther, by proving that the principle may be applied in 
more elaborate form to the normal child, also to the adult 
with the certainty of being able to produce a higher stage 
of mental development. 

The individual powers are increased to their maximum, 
and great change in degree may become change in kind. 

The link between the two organisations is Tension, 
which, while connecting the chain of physical processes 
with that of the mental, is allied to both. This merging 
of the organisations is only possible when the degree of 
sensitiveness to which the nervous and muscular tissues 
have been brought has reached the culminating point of 
development. The physical activities are then hardly dis- 
tinguishable from those usually regarded as purely mental, 
and this fusion of the two forces doubles the intensity of 
both : that of the physical, by contributing a perfected 
system of transmission for the will without obstacle or 
resistance ; that of the mental, by reason of its liberated 
power of expression, which makes possible a stronger and 
more varied current of ideas, and removes farther and 
farther the limitation of physical disability. 

Let us now examine more closely the definite reactions 
set up in the machinery of the brain by this process of 
keying up the muscular and nervous tissues of the body 

85 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

through Tension. This process of keying up produces a 
very highly developed degree of sense activity, which may 
best be described as the full consciousness of every muscle, 
a condition which allows of the instant transmission of 
messages from the brain. 

The road along which we are now travelling needs very 
careful clearing, otherwise the use of certain expressions 
may prove misleading. I will first therefore define my 
meaning of the phrase " full consciousness of every 
muscle." 

This involves no actual anatomical knowledge ; scien- 
tific knowledge of this sort in no way furthers a perfect 
physical training. On the contrary, I should regard it as 
a drawback, in the same way that a very detailed physio- 
logical knowledge, under certain conditions, is conducive to 
exaggerated care, or even nervous apprehension. There- 
fore, the full consciousness of every muscle in no way 
necessitates a knowledge of their names, nor even scientific 
understanding of their functions. The consciousness of 
which I speak is the result of an increased sense activity, 
which forms the soundest basis for all experimental reason- 
ing, the only reasoning on which one may theorise with 
certainty. Hypothesis and synthesis then become merely 
different stages in one experiment on a complete organisa- 
tion, and not, as is usually the case, the result of a 
theory evolved by one person and tested on another, from 
86 



MENTAL REACTIONS 

which the conclusions drawn do not result in absolute 
certainty. 

The fullest consciousness, as also the truest knowledge, 
come through increased sensitiveness, both^ physical and 
mental, and are independent of all scientific education, 
while forming an indispensable attribute to it. 

In reply to the question that may be raised as to whether 
this full consciousness is likely to destroy spontaneity, it 
must be remembered that there is a significant difference 
between consciousness and self-consciousness. The more 
consciously one controls action of any kind, the more 
one concentrates upon the thing one is doing and the less 
upon the self that is doing it. 

Self-consciousness implies a wandering notice of how 
others may regard one's action, while full consciousness 
involves a power of concentration on the action performed, 
to the entire elimination of self as the performer, and 
therefore becomes true spontaneity, which means purely 
internal suggestion independent of all stimulus from with- 
out, with complete indifference to and independence of 
external interference or constraint. 

Let us return then to the most important function of 
this full consciousness, the power of instant transmission of 
messages from the brain. 

To be able to operate in this way, the brain must be 
in perfect working order, constantly alert, for in a series 

8? 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

of rapidly changing movements, messages have to be sent 
without hesitation and in their right order, otherwise a 
block occurs. 

Roughly speaking, the activities of the brain may be 
classified into three departments. The first receives im- 
pressions ; the second forms ideas from those impressions ; 
the third expresses those ideas in action. 

We will suppose that the first department receives an 
impression ; it then passes it on to the creative department 
to be registered as a definite idea, after which it passes to 
the third department to be expressed in action or not, as 
the case may be. 

In any case, the impression has passed through each 
department and left the road clear for the next. This 
process is quite simple while impressions are being received 
slowly ; the difficulty arises when the impressions follow 
each other very rapidly, for unless all three departments 
are in perfect working order, the result is a clogging of 
the second or registering department, which is unable to 
check off the impressions as they are received, so they lie 
piled up, as it were, in a blur of unconsciousness, which 
may or may not result in action, but which could never 
result in consciously controlled action. 

The expression " blur of unconsciousness " is perhaps 
better defined as a substratum of impressions which have 
never been consciously registered, and which form a sort 



MENTAL REACTIONS 

of sediment of thought liable to rise and obscure the 
clearer ideas. 

It is here that I venture to establish a connection 
between my own theory of altered mental activity, and 
one put forward by the late William James in his lecture 
on " Human Immortality." He suggests that the brain is 
not a producer, but a transmitter, of thought : 

" According to the state in which the brain finds itself, 
the barrier of obstructiveness may be supposed to rise and 
fall. It sinks so low when the brain is in full activity that 
a comparative flood of spiritual energy pours over. At 
other times, only such occasional waves of thought as 
heavy sleep permits get by. The brain, under these cir- 
cumstances, would be the independent variable, but the 
mind would vary dependently on it." 

In connection with this idea I am able to state as fact 
that it is possible to reduce to a minimum this " barrier of 
obstructiveness ' by the practice of perfectly balanced 
sequential movement. It takes a long while to accom- 
plish, but it can be done. 

One begins with a brain which may be compared to a 
clumsy instrument, which only allows at first the passing 
of incomplete ideas. 

With practice, the clumsy instrument makes for itself 
something finer and more complex ; that is to say, it 
brings into use the more sensitive portions of its mechanism, 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

until finally it arrives at the power to make a sort of mental 
fine adjustment wheel which is able to register hair's 
breadth differences and flashes, which before were impos- 
sible to the less perfect instrument. 

It is the possession of this mental fine adjustment 
wheel which gives the perception of things through their 
essence, through the knowledge of their proximate cause, 
instead of by their result, and enables the judgment to 
subordinate the importance of action to that of motive and 
incentive. 

The immediate transmission of messages from the 
brain, together with their instant transformation into 
action, constitutes the very highest realisation of Will 
Power, and on Will Power depends the amount of control 
possible to a human being. 

The chain of mental processes may thus be formed in 
the following way : 

Consciousness pure and simple may be defined as the 
awareness of force, and the fuller or more awakened this 
consciousness becomes, the greater will be the power of its 
activity, force itself being consciousness rendered active. 

The maximum activity can only be reached through 
Tension, therefore the particular degree of awakened con- 
sciousness which may be acquired depends on the amount 
of Tension applied to the muscular tissues. 

The amount of Tension is governed by the degree to 
90 



MENTAL REACTIONS 

which control may be exercised, and control depends 
entirely upon Will Power. 

Therefore, as Will Power is the medium of expression 
of conscious force, it forms the last link in this deductive 
chain, and comes in touch with the first, which was passive 
consciousness. 

The most important result, then, of these mental pro- 
cesses is the acquisition of an enormously strengthened 
Will Power, the secret of concentration. 

In the performance of the sequential exercises, the first 
call that is made upon the brain is for concentration 
a concentration, moreover, of a very peculiar type, and 
entirely contrary to the usual fixed attention required in 
the study of problematical subjects or in the effort to 
commit long passages to memory. In these latter cases 
the brain works upon itself, so to speak, a process resulting 
in a degree of fatigue which finally makes concentration 
impossible. 

The sort of concentration needed in sequential move- 
ment requires that the effort made should be, not upon 
the brain itself, but upon the dynamic expression of its 
ideas, and as this dynamic expression demands extremely 
rapid execution, it stands to reason that the brain move- 
ment, or thought registration, must unfailingly precede the 
physical movement. 

This results in the development of an elastic and widely 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

comprehensive form of concentration, one that is able to 
pass rapidly from one point to another, while yet retaining 
a clear and definite idea of the sequence as a whole. 

While the ordinary type of fixed concentration is unable 
to perform movements of rapid mental registration, that 
of elastic concentration includes the power of fixing on 
any particular point or subject with much greater clearness 
of perception than would otherwise be possible. 

In his " Text-Book of Psychology ' William James 
says : 

' The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering 
attention over and over again is the very root of judgment, 
character, and will ; no one is compos sui if he have it not. 
An education which should improve this faculty would be 
the education par excellence. But it is easier to define 
this ideal than to give practical directions for bringing it 
about." 

Another and greater philosopher Socrates once said 
to his pupils : 

" Self-control is an exact science, and when discovered 
the whole world may become virtuous." 

The basis of this science lies in a perfect physical 
development : on that alone depends the mighty structure 
of an awakened consciousness, and, as " the laws of moral 
nature answer to those of matter as face to face in a glass," 
the evolution of a perfected mental organisation is, I am 
92 



MENTAL REACTIONS 

convinced, governed by the same laws as that of physical 
development. A completely altered condition of mental 
activity is made possible by rendering the machinery of 
the brain in perfect working order through the reacting 
influence of the practice of sequential movement under 
Tension, complicated by extremely difficult conditions of 
balance. 

In the physical world, the fatigue caused by the vacil- 
lating movements of an unbalanced body corresponds to 
that caused in the brain by the friction of indecision. 

A sure knowledge of the individual power of each 
muscle with an absolute reliance on their being able to 
respond instantly to any call that is made upon them, finds 
its mental reaction in what Browning called " the eventual 
element of calm," that indispensable basis of judgment, 
a condition of mental equipoise which makes possible the 
control of all thought-movement. 

Here it may be advisable to define what I mean by 
control, for it does not necessarily mean restraint or checking 
or holding back, but may equally represent stimulative as 
well as repressive power. 

' Self-mastery " is the more complete rendering of the 
idea ; the ability to let oneself go, being sure of one's hold 
on the reins ; not the license of unrestraint, but the Power 
of Freedom. Epictetus said : "He only is free who can 
control himself." 

93 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

Before dealing with further reactions, there are two 
points I wish to take up in detail, although both of them 
are merely side issues, and have no immediate connection 
with the main theory. 

The first is in connection with the substratum of 
impressions which are formed by the clogging of the 
registering department of the brain when unable to keep 
pace with the work required of it. 

I venture to offer the conjecture that this substratum 
of unregistered impressions constitutes the subconscious self, 
and that is a condition arising from habitual neglect of the 
training necessary for the perfect working of the mental 
machinery a neglect not of the individual only, but of 
the race, and which may become quite as much an here- 
ditary weakness as any of the more definite physical diseases. 
Although I speak of a condition in which subconsciousness 
predominates as one of weakness, it does not necessarily 
imply that all action directed by the subconscious self 
must invariably be bad. That will depend upon hereditary 
tendencies and traditional influences ; but habitually con- 
trolled action can only be the result of a continuous motor 
existence, the outcome of a brain that is always alert, 
where every moment of the waking hours is fully conscious, 
where every thought and movement has its justification 
and nothing comes at random. 

In each human being will be found unplumbed depths, 

94 



MENTAL REACTIONS 

to a greater or lesser degree, according to the type of his 
antecedents, depths which it rests with each one to attempt 
at any rate to fathom. 

The transmission of hereditary weakness becomes the 
key to the solution of another problem, viz., the transmis- 
sion of consciously determined qualities. Heredity becomes 
a science in which the Will Power of the mother on the 
unborn child becomes the chief factor. When this science 
is knowingly neglected, the responsibility for the sins of 
the children rests largely upon the heads of the parents, 
more especially upon that of the mother, who, if she under- 
stand aright the determinate quality of trained Will Power, 
will be able to form the character of the child before ever 
the light dawns upon its earthly awakening. 

No more important branch exists in the study ot 
Eugenics than this, which deals with the definite training 
of the unborn mentality by the will of the mother. 

" Man is a god in ruins," says Emerson, "he is the 
dwarf of himself. At present man applies to Nature but 
half his force. ... In the end, we shall come to look 
at the world with new eyes ... by yielding ourselves 
passive to the Educated Will." 

The second point which needs further elucidation is in 
connection with the enormously increased power of active 
will made possible by Tension. 

Will Power may be divided into two kinds, that which 

95 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

expresses itself in a force which is the result of instinctive 
desire or fear, and that which represents the force which is 
trained and controlled by reason. 

The first permeates the whole of Nature, animate and 
inanimate, and acts without conscious control. The 
second is that possessed by the human being alone, who is 
able to direct it by self-recognised reasoning power. 

I have been asked whether this Will Power or 
active force which becomes generated and enormously 
strengthened under a condition of highly developed Tension 
is the same as that of a panther just about to spring at its 
prey ; as that which gives to a hunted stag the power to 
leap a chasm it would never have attempted without a 
pursuer at its heels ; whether it is this which enables a 
weak woman to perform prodigies of strength to save her 
child from danger, or that has taken most of us over big 
fences out hunting that we should never have attempted 
in cold blood. " Cold blood ! " that zero point of our Will 
Power which is thought sufficient for everyday use. 

In all these instances, the resultant force is the same, 
and the condition of Tension must have existed as an 
inseparable medium of expression for that force. But the 
incentive causes are different. In the case of the wild 
animals, instinct guided their movements, hunger and fear 
the two strongest, while in the case of most human beings, 
some special emergency has been needed to awaken it, 



MENTAL REACTIONS 

either danger or unusual excitement. After these spasmodic 
efforts the result is collapse or overstrain to a greater or lesser 
degree, according to the stimulating agent. This use of Will 
Power as the result of accident or special excitement may 
be classed with all instinctive or uncontrolled expression. 

The Will Power that is possible to acquire through a 
systematic training in Tension, is of a nature that forms the 
basis of all action, however simple ; an alert control which 
becomes the rule instead of the exception, so that whatever 
call is made upon it, the answer comes at once, and without 
effort, leaving no penalty of overstrain, a condition in 
which catastrophe or mere incident receive an equally 
ready response. 

The power to place oneself at will in a condition of 
Tension in which force may be expressed at its maximum 
constitutes practically another sense. It is extremely 
difficult to define in words what this sense means to the 
one who is able to acquire it. Completely altered vibration, 
producing a feeling of continuity of movement ; a con- 
scious physical connection with some essential force of the 
Universe, together with the ability to make use of it such 
a description may raise a smile of incredulity, but this is 
the result when the highest degree of Tension has been 
attained ; at this culminating point, a human being becomes 
able to comprehend and assimilate Cosmic Force as an 
almost tangible thing. 

97 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

This highly developed sense of movement thus becomes 
a perfected sense of touch to the degree of being able to 
feel the movement of vibrations to which less sensitively 
developed organisations are dead. 

Aristotle ranked the sense of touch as the first and 
most important. " First the natural, then the spiritual. 
The sense of touch, of feeling, is the basis on which the 
other and higher senses rest." 

The link which brings the trained human being into 
conscious connection with things Infinite is altered vibra- 
tion. It is possible for a human being to become keyed up, 
as it were, to a pitch of sensitive receptivity, which makes 
oossible this assimilation by the physical organisation of 
ome force, from which it must be separated so long as it 
cannot respond to that particular standard of vibration. 

The analogy is obviously that of the instruments used 
for wireless telegraphy, which have to be keyed up to a 
certain pitch of sensitiveness before being able to receive 
and respond to the Hertzian wave. 

Increased rapidity of vibration through Tension is pro- 
ductive of two apparently contradictory results. The first, 
as I have pointed out, is that of a highly sensitive receptive 
condition. The second is a maximum resistant power to 
other forces. 

The analogy for this second condition is a spinning 
gyroscope, which generates a force strong enough to resist 



MENTAL REACTIONS 

to an extraordinary degree any effort towards deviation of 
direction. 

It is even possible for a human being in the highest 
state of Tension to lose all consciousness of bodily weight, 
having, as it were, come in touch with some other force, 
and become part of it, to the extent of being able to make 
use of its power. 

My own theory on the subject is that, while the body 
is in this condition of tense, alert, muscular control, it 
becomes a conductor of the unknown force of which I 
spoke, and that the actual weight of atmospheric pressure, 
together with the pull of gravitation, which give to a body 
in slack condition the feeling of downward drag, are no 
longer felt, being enabled to pass through tense matter, 
leaving it with barely the sense of touch upon the ground ; 
while the same body, left limp and slack, would become 
non-conducting, and, so to speak, earth the force, in the 
same way that damp wood " earths " or " grounds " an 
electric current. It would then make felt every pound of 
its pressure, and as weight, according to dynamic law, is 
reckoned as force, the pull downwards of gravitation which 
we regard as weight may be nullified by the stretch and 
upward lift of Tension, which thus becomes a counter- 
acting force. 

This resistant power of Tension is well illustrated in 
the case of a cat falling, and Plate XXVIII. is an extraordi- 

99 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

nary example of the instinctive Tension in animals. 1 The 
middle photograph in the bottom row shows the moment 
of actual contact, when the cat's legs appear stretched to 
three times their normal length, while its tail is reared up 
in a vertical line above its back like a steel rod. 

It is practically impossible for the average spectator to 
register this position, and one has the impression that the 
cat comes to the ground in the condition of slack elastic, 
as shown in the last photograph. 

A little while ago I said that the power to place oneself 
at will in a condition of Tension .constitutes practically 
another sense. Looking first at the simplest result of 
Tension as a trained condition, it will be found that move- 
ment as ordinarily understood is as different from the sense 
of movement as strokes from finished writing. 

In its highest form of development it becomes a thing 
almost supernatural. 

A sense which has never been developed or which has 
been atrophied or destroyed becomes practically non- 
existent. Sound means nothing to the man deaf from 
birth, but Sound is there, although invisible to him, while 
to the blind man sensitiveness to sound is developed to 
such an abnormal degree that he is able to sense movement 
in a way that appears nothing short of miraculous to the 

1 This selection from a series of cinematographic photographs illustrat- 
ing the rapidity of the cat's turn in the air has been kindly lent to me by 
the Institut Marey. 

100 



X 
X 

w 




rt 

cs 



c 
H 

M-H 

o 



MENTAL REACTIONS 

ordinarily endowed human being. A blind man may 
even discern differences of colour through their varying 
vibrations. When this sensitiveness to vibratory move- 
ment is developed to such an abnormal degree, it resembles 
that possessed by the bat, which enables it to avoid during 
rapid flight any object with which it might come in contact, 
and which may be defined as a sense of approach through 
vibration. 

Science has been able to apply the principle of the bat's 
little organ to an instrument which is now being fitted 
to ocean liners. This instrument is able to register the 
distance of an approaching object, either vessel or iceberg, 
in time to avoid collision. 

All these analogies go to prove that what is possible to 
perfected mechanics is also possible to a perfected mental 
organisation, but to a much greater degree. 

So long as one keeps unsevered the connecting link 
between the mind and its physical means of expression, 
one may advance without fear into the region of psycho- 
logical experiment in the effort to attune one's nature to the 
highest sensitiveness attainable. But this result must be 
achieved by keeping in touch with a controlled physical 
consciousness, that one's visions into a world of transcen- 
dentalism may have their hold on the solid ground of reason 
and fact. 

In this way it is possible, through increased sense 

101 






THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

activity, to realise life at its maximum, to gain an insight 
into the almost limitless possibilities of a perfectly trained 
Will Power, and to visualise the result of a brain mechanism 
so perfect structurally, that it neither distorts nor obstructs 
the stream of consciousness which flows through each 
human mind from the " Mother Sea." 



102 



CHAPTER VIII 

SPIRITUAL REACTIONS 

" The principal contrast under which effort is viewed by Aristotle is 
that of mere existence on the one hand, and a complete activity on the other, 
of empty unsatisfied life, which ever looks vaguely beyond, and of life which 
realises its end and finds satisfaction in itself, of the being given by Nature 
and that well-being which is achieved by one's own acts. . . . Aristotle, 
in fact, is profoundly convinced that complete activity, with its transforma- 
tion of the whole being into living reality, yields at the same time the full 
sense of happiness. 

" Hence happiness is principally our own creation, it cannot be com- 
municated from without nor put on like an ornament ; rather it is propor- 
tional to rational activity, and increases with it. 

" Hence only when activity attains complete substantial efficiency, does 
it lift human existence up to happiness." 1 

SO they knew those Greeks of old the intimate 
connection between a perfect physical development 
and its moral sense of well-being, and it would seem 
probable for this reason, that a training which could so 
influence the moral side of human nature becomes in the 
end a religion in itself, seeing that in a condition of per- 
fectly balanced physical strength and well-being the mind 
and soul respond more fully. 

The word " hieros," " sacred/' originally meant 

1 " The Problem of Life." Rudolf Eucken. 

103 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

" strong," " fresh," " vigorous." Dr. Schroeder considers 
that it was eventually restricted to religion, from the 
" uplifted feeling of the worshipper the sense of strength 
which his religion brought him." 1 

Surely a reversal, this, of the order of cause and effect ! 
More probably the discovery that complete happiness 
could only be reached through complete physical activity 
induced them to connect with religion the thing they most 
valued, and led them to adopt the word " sacred " in con- 
nection with the worship of their deities, for only with the 
best would they approach the altars of their gods. 

That the Greeks knew the intimate connection between 
the diaphragm and the mind can hardly be doubted, for 
their word " phren " means spirit or mind, and the " phren " 
(or, as it was generally used in the plural phrenes) actually 
denoted the diaphragm, if the muscle that separates the 
heart and lungs from the lower organs." 

" Within the phrenes, the Greeks placed not only all 
such feelings as we now connect with the heart love, 
hatred, grief, anger ; but also the faculties now attached to 
the brain intelligence, thinking-power, memory, will." 2 

They divided man into three parts : (i) " Soma," 
the body or covering ; (2) " Psyche," the soul ; and 
(3) " Phrenes," the seat of mental and spiritual life, this 



1 " Makers of Hellas," p. 224. 

2 Ibid., p. 293. 



104 



SPIRITUAL REACTIONS 

last being by far the most important of the three, and 
considered the " noblest part of the man." 

Haemon tells his father, Kreon, that the " gods have 
implanted in men (human beings generally) the phrenes 
(feeling, mind, will, thinking faculty) of all possessions the 
highest . . . the power, namely, of forming a moral judg- 
ment, of distinguishing right from wrong, justice from 
injustice." 

The conception of spirit was totally apart from any 
idea of religion as expressed in worship. To the Greeks, 
it meant the fine fleur of moral courage and energy, and 
was the glory of their Paganism, as indeed it may be 
the glory of every creed, being independent of though 
common to all. The striking examples of religious fervour, 
whether Catholic or Protestant, Pagan or Puritan, which 
stand out in the world's history, have been due to this same 
spirit which inspired the leaders of religious movements. 
It was not the particular creed that made the man, but the 
spirit of the man which was able to glorify his creed. 

The training, then, of that particular muscle which was 

' of all possessions the highest," formed the secret of the 

marvellous unity of their development. Each step they 

took in advance was a complete one, for they regarded 

each side of their nature as inseparable from the other. 

" Whereas some thinkers St. Paul, Pascal, Byron 
have seen in man a two-fold nature . . . God and beast 

105 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

. . . the Greek was not conscious of such a distinction ; 
he only saw a unity, * glorious in its action and itself/ in 
which humanity was not distinct from divinity, nor body 
from soul." * 

The definite reaction of the diaphragm upon the spirit 
is proved in moments of joy when one takes deep, expand- 
ing breaths which lift one up ; while in depression one's 
head falls forward, one's " heart sinks/' as the saying is, 
and there is a general feeling of collapse. 

Now the converse of this is also true ; that is to say, 
by the practice of tense uplifting movements, you may 
induce its corresponding state of mind. It is this which 
explains how the basic principles of aesthetic law are indis- 
solubly connected with dynamic instinct, for in finely- 
balanced, tense movement lies the solution of the problem 
of this law, and a clear answer is given to the reason " why ' 
of our perception of beauty in whatever form it may be 
expressed, either through music or painting or sculpture. 

This answer is the power of lift, physical and mental, 
and, rightly understood, the exhortation of the Psalmist in 
the words, " Lift up your hearts," comes to have a literal 
far more than a figurative meaning. 

On the strength of the diaphragm depends the strength 
of the spirit, that unquenchable flame of conscious Will 
Power, the energising fire that Aristotle called " the reality, 

1 " The Greek Genius and its Meaning to Us." Livingstone. 
1 06 



SPIRITUAL REACTIONS 

energeia" in contradistinction to the temporality of mere 
brain mechanism. 

There are many allusions in the Iliad to this energising 
Will Power, with which Homer endowed the Greeks and 
Trojans alike a Will Power that was able to restore on 
the instant exhausted faculties, physical and mental. 

This, I am convinced, was achieved through definite 
movement of the diaphragm, a bracing into tension which 
results in an immediate mental and spiritual reaction. That 
is to say, this is the result when the whole organisation is 
already in a perfectly trained condition. 

I believe it is considered by some translators that 
Chapman allowed himself too much licence in the trans- 
lation of many passages of the Iliad, but filled as he was 
with the Greek spirit, his interpretation of these passages 
seems to render in more vivid form the energising fire with 
which the Greeks were so deeply imbued. 

In the Fifth Book, Atrides reviews his troops, and 
encourages them with the words : 

'* O friends," said he, " hold up your minds ; strength 
is but strength of will." 

Why did he say that ? Had the Greeks been in the 
habit of locating the mind in the head, he would not have 
spoken thus to his men. But he knew, as they did, that 
all that meant spiritual and mental strength was in the 
diaphragm, and he was simply telling them to brace their 

107 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

bodies into tension that the will might have unhindered 
command of their whole natures. 

In the Twelfth Book occurs this passage : 

" The Trojans fought not of themselves, a fire from heaven was thrown 
That ran amongst them, through the wall, mere added to their own. 
The Greeks held not their own ; weak Grief went with her wither'd hand, 
And dip't it deeply in their spirits, since they could not command their 
forces to abide the field." 

Meaning here that had their physical control been stronger, 
the will would have been able to operate effectively, 
enabling them to hold their ground and to keep the fire 
of their spirit undimmed. 

Again, in the Eighteenth Book, the Trojans reach a 
point when retreat for a time becomes the wiser course, 
and Polydamus urges them not to put too great a strain 
on the mental strength, although he recognises that it is 
capable of carrying them on even when all the physical 
force is exhausted. 

. . . . " If ye yield, though wearied with a fight 
So late and long, we shall have strength in council and the night. 
And (where we here have no more force than need will force us to, 
And which must rise out of our nerves) high ports, tow'rs, walls will do 
What wants in us." 

And so on, all through the Iliad, runs the spirit of a 
force born of the will alone, which could be relied upon to 
the very last. 

Chapman himself realised that he would be criticised 
for his interpretation of many passages, and he answers his 
1 08 



SPIRITUAL REACTIONS 

" Commentors " in his " Commentarius " at the end of 
the Seventeenth Book by a vindication of the rendering of 
a certain passage in these words : 

' It is something probable that their oversight [meaning 
the Commentors], in this trifle is accompanied with a 
thousand other errors in matter of our divine Homer's 
depth and gravity, which will not open itself to the curious 
austerity of belabouring art, but only to the natural and 
most ingenuous soul of our thrice sacred poesy." 

In the examination of all new theory, the search-light 
of austere and sincere criticism is the only means by which 
complete analysis of construction may be determined. 

To " the natural and most ingenuous soul ' will be 
revealed the inspiring flame which escapes analysis, eludes 
even definition, but which illumines, with a clear radiance, 
the understanding in which one spark exists as touchstone. 

The knowledge must be there. It only remains to 
know that we know ; and herein lies the secret of all dis- 
covery of truth. The discovery consists in telling others 
what they know already, while yet unaware of that 
knowledge. 

Truth, in whatever form it may be expressed, is so 
simple that when revealed, all normal human beings 
recognise it instantly, and the telling of it consists in 
arranging the mosaic of facts in a pattern which appears 
most clear to the one who has been puzzling over its 

109 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

different colours with a view to evolving a clear and definite 
design. 

To all my assertions will come the question of the 
sceptic : ' How do you know ? What proof can you 
offer ? " 

To this the only answer is that given by the mathe- 
matician Euler when questioned as to the correctness of 
his famous law of arches : ' This will be found contrary 
to all experience, yet is true." 

A thing is only impossible when it implies a contra- 
diction, but a law which has been found contrary to all 
experience need not necessarily involve this contradiction. 

The theory which I offer is in accordance with Nature's 
highest laws of development, and in no way against them. 

It may be argued, that complete control over one's 
nature is impossible under existing human limitations, but 
I recognise no limitations. All life is movement, and the 
finest life must take its impress from the finest movement, 
the finest spirit from the finest activity. 

There are no real statics in the realm of expression ; 
each entity has a story, and life is its telling. The symbol 
on paper is not the whole of language. 

The knowledge that there are no limits to the heights 
is the incentive for the soul. The work of striving becomes 
the joy of accomplishment, and the goal is beyond the 
stars, 
no 



SPIRITUAL REACTIONS 

If the future were known, existence would lose its 
charm, so may we revel in the Infinite, realising that there 
is nothing perfect save law, and that to reach perfection 
would be to lose it. 

To realise the energising fire of an awakened con- 
sciousness is an approximation of the ideal. 

An awakened consciousness is a mighty thing ! Through 
this, life appears on a much bigger scale ; it is the science 
of living, the verb " to live," made into something real 
and vital through the completeness of every expression of 
life. 

And the glory of it all lies in the fact that the power 
to achieve this ideal is latent in each human being. Each 
may find himself the master-key which will open wide 
the doors of a new world, if willing to pay the price ; it 
depends only on this. 

In this new world may a man find his soul, and enter 
into his full heritage. 

Before the harp can yield the glory of its music, its 
strings have to be stretched and keyed up to the power of 
response. 

The power to respond is the highest desire of the 
human being. Without it, man is lost ; with this power 
developed to its utmost limits, the road is clear, and nothing 
can obstruct or discourage. 

To the human being whose organism has been trained 

in 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

to recognise and respond to the highest laws comes reward 
in the shape of a power to discern and accept the inevitable 
without wasting strength and energy in useless combat, 
at the same time realising how few how very few condi- 
tions are inevitable with a will strong enough to over- 
come and dominate circumstance rather than be moulded 
by it. 

This is the culminating point of achievement in moral 
reaction, and is the direct outcome of that conservation of 
energy, both physical and mental, which gives to life in 
its whole expression the clear-cut movement and definition 
of action, the unity of perfectly-balanced forces working 
together with the minimum of strain, and thus achieving 
the maximum result. 

And this result, once achieved, is there for ever ; there 
is no slipping back, no growing stiffness of knee joints to 
be remedied, no slackening muscles to be worked up, no 
aching spine that demands longer hours of couch repose 
each month or year, no nervous strain or irritability or 
uncertainty, only calm confidence in the power to envisage, 
unshaken, every eventuality. 

Everything works in harmony, and the physical dis- 
integration, inevitable under the law, becomes almost 
imperceptible from its unity of change. 

Under normal conditions, it would become possible 
eventually so to conserve the energies until the end, that 
112 



SPIRITUAL REACTIONS 

no one particular part of the physical organisation would 
have greater demands ma4e upon it than another, the 
habit of a perfectly-balanced life resulting in the gradual 
very gradual lowering of the flame ; and as flame 
expires while yet rising, so will that energising fire, 
the flame of man's spirit, remain clear and strong to 
the last, lifted and inspired by the knowledge that it is 
possible for human nature to achieve its highest end on 
earth. 

Having reached this condition, the concept of time 
becomes one, not of duration but of degree of attainment, 
independent of all circumstance, and the answer to the 
eternal question of the pessimist, " d quoi bon ? " rings out 
clear and true. 

A clear vision ; the realisation, if only for one day, of 
all the possibilities of life at its maximum activity, these 
are ample reward for all its pain, for all the wounds that 
come to those who fight, and the attainment of this ideal 
must be a preparation for all eventualities. 

If the flame dies for ever, then the top note of achieve- 
ment has been reached here. If it is to wake again into a 
life fuller and more perfect than yet dreamed of on this 
plane, then no effort has been lost, and the fresh start will 
be made from a higher standpoint than would otherwise 
have been attained. 

But on whatever plane the spirit of man finally arrives, 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

the words that Keats placed in the mouth of the Greek 
god of old will for ever remain true in their representation 
of the ideal achievement in life : 

" To bear all naked truths, 
And to envisage circumstance, all calm, 
That is the top of sovereignty." 



114 



DETAILED EXPLANATION 

OF 
FOUR BASIC EXERCISES 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE 

THE clear explanation in writing of a variety of com- 
plicated movements is extremely difficult. I have, there- 
fore, supplemented the instructions with as many photo- 
graphs as possible, the most important positions being 
shown in full-page plates. It is recommended that the 
first two exercises should be taken as a commencing lesson, 
and that, as the movements become more familiar, gradu- 
ally the other exercises may be added, one at a time. The 
only approach to definite routine that I strongly recom- 
mend is that of beginning all practice with Exercise /., 
however much the others may be varied. This first exer- 
cise has proved itself the most useful for the initial suppling 
of the muscles, after the body has been drawn up into the 
Preliminary Position shown on Plate X. Half-an-hour's 
practice will be found enough for the first few lessons, 
but later on, when muscles and joints begin to get more 
accustomed to the movements, an hour will seem very 
short. This, however, should be the limit for any practice, 
however perfect the student may become. Each exercise 
must be done the same number of times on each side, the 
instructions being reversed from right to left, and great 
care taken to omit no detail of this reversal. 

117 



EXERCISE I 

FROM the Preliminary Position, raise the arms in 
front until the elbows (very slightly bent) are 
on a level with the breast-line, the hands tightly 
clenched and about a foot apart. Now take a step back 
with the right foot, carrying the body with it at exactly the 
same moment, and taking care to keep the torso viz., that 
part of the body from shoulder to hip absolutely vertical, 
by bracing the muscles of the waist to their utmost tension. 
The moment the right foot touches the ground, let the 
knee bend as much as will lower the body about four or 
five inches. During this backward step the left leg remains 
perfectly still and tense, straight as a rod of steel, with only 
the extreme point of the toe touching the ground, the heel 
well raised, the upper line of the instep curved outwards. 
In this position the whole of the weight is on the right 
foot, so that the left might be raised up and down without 
disturbing the vertical line of the body. 

Plate XXIX. A shows the position as seen from the 
front ; Plate XXIX. C gives it more clearly in profile, 
and an imaginary vertical line should pass through the 
ear, shoulder, hip, and ball of the foot, while the knee has 
left it without in any way disturbing the rest of the 
118 



X 

I I 

X 
X 



w 

H 








EXERCISE I 

line. 1 From this position, swing the left leg up and across 
the line of the right, straight and tense, until it reaches the 
horizontal, at which point it should form an acute angle 
with the right leg, that is to say, it passes in front of the 
right leg to the extent of an acute angle. During this 
movement, the right knee remains bent, but the right foot 
is pushed forward on to the ball of the toes, which allows 
the torso to remain vertical and the left leg to swing freely. 
It will be found that if an attempt is made to swing up the 
left leg while the right heel is on the ground, not only will 
the leg not be able to reach the horizontal, but the knee 
(that is to say, the left knee) will bend, and the shoulders 
will come forward, destroying any attempt at poise. This 
apparently easy movement of raising the right foot on to 
the toes while the knee is still bent, is one of the most 
difficult, and it is only after long practice that it can be 
done without moving the body itself. This upward swing 
of the left leg is accompanied by the simultaneous down- 
ward swing of both arms well to the left, to balance the 
movement of the leg to the right. The arms should, at 
the finish of their swing, form an obtuse angle to their first 
position, and thus make a complete diagonal line with the 
left leg across the direction in which the body faces. Care 

1 In the case of Plate XXIX^. the position was photographed before 
the full bend of the knee was accomplished, which when completed would 
have brought the ear, shoulder, and hip slightly more forward until all 
were vertical over the toes. 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

should be taken in swinging them down not to alter their 
relative position, but to keep them always about a foot 
apart, the elbows slightly bent, as at start, although the 
arm that passes in front of the body will necessarily have 
a more decided bend than the other. 

Plate XXIX. B shows very clearly this poise, in which 
the position of the right foot should be carefully noted, as 
this is the movement so difficult to perform. The angles 
formed by the left leg and the arms in relation to the direc- 
tion of the body can be very easily seen from this photo- 
graph. There should be no pause when the left leg reaches 
the horizontal line, but, like a pendulum, it swings down 
again instantly, while simultaneously with this downward 
movement must come the upward return of the arms to 
their first position, and the straightening up of the right 
knee to allow both feet to come together for the final poise 
well up on the toes, which is the same, of course, as that 
shown in Plate X. D During the lowering and raising of 
the body, with its counteracting movements to right and 
left, the torso should remain tense and vertical, particular 
care being taken not to twist the waist while swinging down 
the arms, but to carry them only just so far as will balance 
the movement of the left leg. 

From the final poise on the toes, the exercise should 
be recommenced, and only on the initial step backwards 
of each repetition should the right heel touch the ground, 
120 



EXERCISE I 

after which all other movements must be performed poised 
on the ball of the foot. 

These instructions constitute a counsel of perfection, 
and it must not be expected that this nicety of balance 
can be acquired in a week or a month. Many things go 
to make up such a condition of equilibrium, which can 
only be acquired gradually, as the mind becomes better 
able to control the physical movement. 

For practice on the left side, these movements should 
be reversed. The exercise should be repeated five or six 
times on each side, going back in a straight line and the 
poise on the toes being carefully maintained for several 
seconds after each repetition, though this again will be 
impossible for a beginner, who will be forced to place 
the heels on the ground at first to avoid falling over 
altogether. 



121 



EXERCISE II 

FROM the Preliminary Position, raise the right 
hand to the shoulder, with clenched fist, twisted as 
far as possible to the left, the elbow bent and 
kept as closely to the waist as will allow the forearm to 
remain vertical. Simultaneously with this movement, the 
left forearm is brought across the waist in a horizontal line, 
the hand also clenched. 

As the arms are being brought into position, take a 
short step back with the left foot, carrying the body with 
it, so that the whole weight is over the left, while the right 
foot remains barely touching the ground with the extreme 
point of the toe, the heel well raised and the upper line of the 
instep curved outward. Plate XXX . A gives this position. 
During the whole of this exercise, the knees remain abso- 
lutely straight and tense. Care should be taken to avoid the 
least movement of the waist while stepping back, for, 
unless perfectly tense, it has a tendency to twist and relax, 
altering the level of the two hips, which at once destroys 
the balance. The two definite movements which prevent 
this alteration in the hips are the conscious drawing up of 
the waist muscles, and the raising of the right heel to 
lengthen the line of the right leg, so as to allow the body 
122 



o 



X 
X 
X 

w 



pq 




EXERCISE II 

to go back far enough to form a vertical line over the left 
foot. 1 From this position, the body must be spun round 
on the ball of the left foot in a right-angle turn to the left, 
the right leg swinging back and up at the same moment. 
This is a much more complicated movement than at first 
appears, for, as soon as the backward swing brings the 
leg to a lock against the right hip, the movement is carried 
on by bending forward on the left hip, while the right leg 
and spine form one continuous line, which should work 
in unbroken connection, the leg rising while the spine is 
being lowered, until the two form a horizontal line, when, 
if possible, the poise should be maintained on the ball of 
the left foot for a few seconds. The spin round into this 
position is aided by a rapid pull round of the left arm, 
made by drawing the fist in a semicircle from its first 
position at the waist to a point on a level with the left 
shoulder, the elbow bent to its utmost limit, so that both 
arms are now in the same position, the right arm having 
remained unaltered. The hands should be pulled well 
back in a conscious effort to expand the chest ; the head 
thrown back so that even when the full bend of the body 
has been reached, in a horizontal line, the face and head 
remain vertical as though standing. This is a most impor- 
tant detail, as any alteration in the position of the head at 

1 To test the difference in length made by raising the heel, place it on 
the ground again, and note the pull forward. 

123 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

once upsets the poise, which is one of the most difficult to 
maintain. Plate XXX. B illustrates this poise, which is 
extremely interesting from the point of view of the different 
angles formed by the varying weights of torso and leg, 



(&*) D 




and the precision needed in their combined movement 
to enable the centre of gravity to remain over its base. 

If an imaginary horizontal line is drawn on the photo- 
graph, the forehead and toe will be found to be the extreme 
points, while the vertical line, starting upwards from a 
little behind the ball of the left foot, will pass through the 
124 



EXERCISE II 

knee and the left hip. The angles formed by the two 
lines, first from the head to the left foot, where it touches 
the ground, and again from the right foot to the left, 
together with the connecting horizontal of the line from the 
right toe to the head, constitute an example of the triangle 
of forces resulting from the difference in weight of the torso 
and leg. I have given a diagram illustrating, with exact 
measurements taken from Plate XXX . B , the triangles 
formed by this poise. By lowering the horizontal line until 
C and D are level with B, that is to say, by straightening 
out the extended leg and torso, the angles DBA and 
C B A become right-angle triangles of different size. It 
will be seen at once that there must be considerably more 
weight in the angle C B A to enable it to poise on the 
same base as the larger angle DBA. This is why it is so 
important not to add to the length of the body-line by 
lowering the head, as it then becomes impossible for the 
leg to counterbalance the extra weight, having already 
reached its utmost length, and like a see-saw badly balanced, 
one end goes up while the other comes to the ground. 
This is certainly the most fascinating poise to attempt, 
albeit the most difficult to achieve ; and it may be wondered 
why it should have been selected as the second exercise. 
The reason is that, although the movement itself is one of 
the most difficult, the exercise may be classified among those 
which do not involve such complicated mental direction 

125 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

as most of the others. As this mental control constitutes 
the greatest difficulty in connection with these exercises, 
they have been arranged with a view to facilitate a gradual 
increase in the power of concentration needed, that special 
concentration of which I spoke in Chapter VII., which 
enables the mind to pass rapidly from one point to another 
with unhesitating certainty, and always just ahead of the 
physical movement. 

The recovery from this poise is made by a reversal of 
the movement of the horizontal line, the start being given 
by the tense muscles of the waist, which are able to raise 
the body and lower the right leg simultaneously without 
in any way disturbing the rigidity of the line. The whole 
body, therefore, returns to its vertical position the moment 
the right foot comes to the ground, and the final poise 
should be maintained well up on the toes with the feet 
pressed close together. Plate XXX . shows the final 
position of recovery. 

It will be some time before the pupil will be able to 
achieve this recovery from the horizontal poise. Time 
after time the exercise will be cut in half by the uncon- 
trollable pitch forward of the body. But patience, and 
a right leg as tense as a steel rod to the tip of the toes, will 
eventually be rewarded with a momentary poise which 
brings a quite unusual exhilaration of its own, and is the 
best possible incentive to renewed effort. 
126 



EXERCISE II 

Later still, when an occasional recovery has been 
achieved, the repetition of the exercise should be begun 
where the first finished, viz., at a right angle to the starting- 
point. 

Four of these repetitions will therefore bring the feet 
to the exact spot at which the start was made, thus com- 
pleting a geometrical series. It should, however, be some 
time before these completed series are attempted, as the 
details of one exercise must be thoroughly mastered 
before complicating the mental movement by further 
combinations. 



127 



EXERCISE III 

STARTING from the Preliminary Position, take 
a lunge forward with the left foot, carrying the 
whole weight of the body forward at the same 
moment as the advancing foot, bending the knee as the 
foot touches the ground, sufficiently to force up the heel 
about an inch, leaving the weight poised on the ball of the 
foot. The right leg should remain tense and unbending 
during the whole of the exercise on this side, and as the 
body is carried forward on the lunge, it leaves the right foot 
relieved of all weight, so that only the extreme tip of the 
big toe touches the ground, while the foot itself should 
be turned well outwards and form a right angle with the 
line of the left foot. Simultaneously with the lunge, raise 
the left arm in a parrying movement, so that the forearm 
passes in front of the forehead about four inches distant, 
horizontal from the elbow, and tense to the tip of the 
outstretched fingers ; the palm of the hand facing out- 
wards. Plate XXXI A . shows this position, and an imaginary 
line should pass through the left ear, shoulder, hip, and 
ball of foot, while the knee will be well in front of this 
line. The photograph of this position is a little off the 
profile, which gives the impression that the line would end 
128 



PLATE XXXI. 

B A 




2 I 

Exercise III. 



PLATE XXXI. (continued). 

D C 




Copyright.'] 



Exercise III. (continued}. 



EXERCISE III 

in front of the foot instead of at the ball, but this is not really 
the case. The exact height of the left heel from the ground 
is controlled by the bend of the knee, and when it becomes 
impossible to get nearer than one inch to the ground with 
the heel, the knee bend will have reached its limit. 

From this lunge the second position is reached by 
straightening the left knee, and thus raising the body four 
or five inches ; which movement necessitates the lowering 
of the left heel to the ground for an instant, although no 
weight should be placed on it. Simultaneously with the 
straightening of the left leg, the right rises from the ground 
still stretched out behind at the same angle, and finally 
raised four or five inches from the ground. There must 
be no pause, however, on this second position, and the 
moment the left leg is quite straight, the right leg should 
be swung round in a wide semicircle in which the hip 
constitutes the rotary axis. This movement carries the 
body round with it in a right-angle turn to the left, which 
must be made on the ball of the left foot. The curve is 
stopped as soon as the right angle is reached, by bringing 
the extreme point of the right toe to the ground, a little 
in front, and to the left of the left foot, so that the knees 
are crossed, the under-part of the right knee touching the 
knee-cap of the left. The two feet should be turned in 
opposite directions, the left, on which the turn has been 
made, pointing slightly to the right, and the right turned 

129 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

across to the left, each in acute angle to the direction in 
which the body faces. Plate XXXF. shows this position 
so accurately that it will be at once understood. Again, the 
test of the vertical line will prove the balance correct, and 
will be found to pass from the nose, down through the 
centre of the body, directly to the ball of the left foot. 
This extremely difficult movement is only possible by 
keeping the body in a tense vertical line over the left foot 
the whole time. The left leg represents the pivot arm of 
a compass, while the right leg swings round tense as to 
muscle, but quite loose at the hip-joint, in the same way 
as the moving arm of a compass. Great care must be 
taken to put no force into the movement, which would 
at once disturb the vertical pivoting line and upset the 
balance. It will be found that the weight of the right leg 
is sufficient to carry on the momentum when once started 
on the curve. Above all, it must be remembered that this 
right leg must be like a rod of steel with Tension, so that 
no disconnection occurs when it meets with resistance at 
the hip-joint. This happens when half-way through the 
curve, and it is this resistance which is needed to bring the 
vertical line of the body and left leg into the movement, 
into which they will be swept without the least break or 
check, provided the Tension is unbroken and the weight 
poised well up on the ball of the left foot, which, as pivot, 
must cover the least possible surface. The great difficulty 
130 



EXERCISE III 

will be to keep from bending at the waist, and care must 
be taken not to invite this by leaning forward with the head 
to see what the feet are doing ; for what the neck does 
the waist copies unconsciously. Any lean forward of the 
head means collapse of the poise, which should be so exact 
that the right leg may, by way of test, be lifted well up 
from the ground without disturbing the vertical line of 
the body, poised as it should be full on the left toes, to 
which the instep should be almost perpendicular. 

I have purposely left the arm movement to the last, so 
as to avoid undue complication, but it must be remembered 
that it is performed simultaneously with the leg curve. 
As soon as this begins, the left arm should be brought 
down from the position of parry in semicircular movement, 
to a point level with the left side of the waist, and about 
two inches distant, the fist clenched, the elbow well bent, 
pointing outwards and slightly backwards from the side. 
The right arm must be brought up by bending the elbow, 
until the hand, with open palm turned outwards, is on a level 
with the right shoulder, and distant about five or six inches. 
This finishes every detail of Plate XXXP. It should 
be possible to remain erect and still in this position, poised 
on the left toes, with no weight on the right foot, which, 
as I said before, may be lifted a few inches from the ground 
merely as a test of the perfect balance on the left. From 
this position the right leg is swung backwards in a wide 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

semicircle, tense and unbending as always, while yet loose 
and free at the hip-joint. This movement is accompanied 
by the simultaneous bend of the left knee, so that the body 
is again lowered four or five inches, and is once more in 
the lunge position, the right foot almost in line with the 
left, and turned out as before at right angles to the left. 
The hands should be swung down to the left simultaneously 
with the leg movement, the elbows slightly bent, the 
fingers outstretched and tense. In Plate XXXF. all the 
details of this position are clearly shown. Care should be 
taken that the arm-swing does not alter the position of the 
hips although the waist itself makes a slight turn to the 
left. The final recovery, which is made by springing 
backwards and upwards, from the left toes, finally bringing 
them close to the right, is shown on Plate XXXP. This 
spring back is performed entirely by the ball of the left 
foot, carried on by that of the right, which receives the 
weight, these movements being aided by the Tension in 
the right leg, which three factors combined draw the body 
up once more into a vertical line, both knees straight, the 
right arm having swung round in a semicircle to the right 
side during the spring, the whole weight finally poised as 
high up on the toes as possible, the feet pressed close 
together. This finish leaves the body at a right angle to 
the start ; and, as in the case of the other exercises, the 
next one should be commenced from the finishing angle, 
132 



EXERCISE III 

so that the series of four may be completed by a return 
to the starting-point. But, again, this should only be 
attempted when the single exercise has become familiar, 
as the effort to complete a series invariably destroys the 
perfection of detail until it has become definitely mastered. 
This is due to the alteration of angle, which is unexpectedly 
disconcerting at first. It is wiser, therefore, to practise 
for some time the two different sides only, recommencing 
at the same starting-point. Eventually, two series of four 
exercises on the right and the same on the left are, as a rule, 
enough of this particular exercise. 



133 



EXERCISE IV 

STARTING from the Preliminary Position, take 
a very short step backwards with the right foot, 
carrying the body well back so that all the weight 
is over the right 'heel, leaving the left foot with only the 
extreme tip of the toe touching the ground, the heel well 
raised, and the upper line of the instep curved outwards. 
(See Plate XXXIP.) The arms remain throughout this 
exercise the same as in the Preliminary Position, viz., 
drawn down to their full length at the sides, and tense to 
the finger-tips. The body also and poise of the head should 
remain absolutely unchanged, the whole movement being 
confined to the left leg, which is to perform a wide three- 
quarter circle on the principle of the moving arm of a com- 
pass ; the pivot arm being represented by the immovable 
line of the body and right leg, revolving on the heel, and 
actuated by the motor incentive of the left leg alone, without 
any independent movement. Having taken the step back, 
brace both knees to their utmost Tension, remembering 
that the whole body must remain in a tense vertical line 
over the right heel, which will form the pivot. The start 
for the pivoting movement is given by the left leg, which 
should swing straight from the hip in a wide, gradually- 

134 



X 
X 
X 

w 



OH 




^^H^^H^Hl^lHI 



^^H^^^^^^^K. 



EXERCISE IV 

rising, backward semicircle, straight and tense, with the 
toe still pointing towards the ground. Plate XXXII. 8 shows 
the starting movement of the left leg, and is a very good 
photograph of this position. There should be no sense of 
effort in effecting this turn. None whatever is needed ; 
the turn of the body being effected by the resistance of 
the leg against the hip at a certain point, which resistance 
is amply sufficient to bring the body itself into the sweep 
of the curve, provided always (and this is the whole diffi- 
culty) that it is able to maintain the unbroken vertical 
line through Tension, so that a pull at any point of this 
vertical line will act on the whole line at its pivot only, 
viz., the heel. The resistance at the hip occurs when the 
left leg has reached a right angle to its start, and at this 
moment the left toes should be slightly raised so that the 
heel may revolve quite freely. The pivot foot makes a 
revolution of a half-circle ; the body the same, so that 
when the curve ceases the student should be facing exactly 
the opposite direction to the start. To arrive at this, the 
left leg must make three-quarters of a circle, at which 
point the left foot comes to the ground, on the ball of the 
toes, while the left knee bends instantly to allow the weight 
of the body to be transferred to the left side in a vertical 
line over the ball of the left foot, resulting in a side lunge 
as the final position. At the same moment that the left 
foot touches the ground the right will have finished the 

135 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

pivoting movement on the heel, and without a pause this 
heel should be raised so as to leave only the extreme point 
of the toe touching the ground ; the right leg remaining 
throughout like a rod of steel, straight and tense ; the 
body, arms, and head in exactly the same relative position 
as at the start. 

Plate XXXIP is a fine photograph of this position ; it 
should be noted carefully how the left heel is raised from 
the ground, and how a line drawn from the middle of the 
back ends in the ball of the left foot ; the Tension of the 
back muscles may also be seen clearly through the jersey. 
In this exercise, the whole difficulty will be found in the 
effort to keep the waist muscles tense. At the start they 
will bend backwards, so that the sensation of falling back 
will naturally upset the balance. If by chance the student 
gets round somehow, he will find, on landing with the left 
foot on the ground, that these same muscles give way 
forwards, and that he is unable to prevent a pitch forward. 
This difficulty constitutes the main interest of this appa- 
rently simple exercise ; there seems at first sight less 
movement than in any of the others, only one leg to swing 
round and it can't be done ! In reality, the difficulty is 
purely mental, and lies in the impossibility to the beginner 
of localising movement, of keeping practically the whole 
body immobile, and concentrating all actiongon one par- 
ticular joint. For this reason, this exercise demands a 
136 



EXERCISE IV 

more intense concentration and a far higher vibratory 
Tension that is to say, a more absolutely unbroken con- 
nection than any other ; and this maximum velocity of 
vibration is only arrived at through exceptional power in 
the diaphragm, enabling it to radiate at maximum speed. 

Confining myself solely to the physical means by which 
this condition may be acquired, the effort to keep the 
waist fully stretched will lighten the difficulties to some 
extent, and as there is very little physical fatigue connected 
with this exercise, it may be repeated until the student 
gets either tired or angry, when it will be wiser to leave it 
for another practice and come to it again fresh. 

The recovery from the side lunge is made by a spring 
from the ball of the left foot, upwards and sideways, until 
the body comes once more into an erect vertical line, with 
both feet pressed close together, well up on the toes. The 
exercise should be repeated six or eight times on each side, 
the start being made each time from the finishing position ; 
but this repetition should not be attempted until some sort 
of mastery has been gained over this very fascinating but 
inexplicably difficult exercise. 

The maximum height reached by the rising curve of 
the swinging leg should be about twelve inches. A great 
effort will be needed to avoid bending the knee of the 
pivot leg, which must be like a steel rod the whole time. 



137 



THE RENAISSANCE OF THE GREEK IDEAL 

These Four Exercises have been selected specially for 
the purpose of making quite clear the fundamental prin- 
ciples of movement in general, and of balance under 
Tension in particular ; so that when this knowledge has 
been acquired by practice, all the everyday movements of 
life afford complete exercise in themselves. 

As far as possible, the basic exercises should be practised 
three or four times a week. Personally, I do some of them 
every day, if only for a few minutes, for the sake of the 
added lightness and exhilaration which they always bring. 
But I make no rule for others. For those who have 
had the energy and determination to work systematically 
through the whole series of four exercises, I may safely 
leave the regulation of further practice, knowing that the 
power and fascination of the exercises themselves will exert 
their own influence, when once they have formed part of 
the daily routine during a whole year. 

This explanatory chapter will, I fear, have proved very 
dull reading, but it cannot be helped, for serious and 
difficult work of this kind claims from both writer and reader 
the utmost concentration, and the difficulties confronting 
both in elucidating and apprehending its full meaning are 
enormous. 

The light touch possible in viva voce description 
becomes in print irrelevancy and distraction. Too much 
elaboration of details which in actual demonstration can 

138 



EXERCISE IV 

be seen at a glance, produces complication. If, then, it 
appears very cut-and-dried, it must be remembered that 
the aim has been for lucidity and conciseness at the sacrifice 
of all else, and that the desire to render in words any idea 
of what the movements themselves are able to produce, 
of lift and exhilaration, has been rigorously repressed for 
the sake of those students who have the continuity of 
purpose to struggle through the physical difficulties to the 
end, and for whom the clear separation of the different 
phases of the work is the only chance of success. 



139 



INDEX 



AEGINA PEDIMENT, position of 
certain figures in, 3 

Alchemy, secret code of, 63 

Amazon (Vatican, Rome), descrip- 
tion and explanation, 76-79 

Apes : formation of feet, 16 ; 
modification in movements of, 

17 

Aphrodite (Villa Item), 82 

Archer in Aegina Pediment : posi- 
tion described, 4-5 ; position 
demonstrated as a possibility, 
69-70 ; represented in move- 
ment, difficulty of, 8 

Architecture : basis of equilibrium 
in, 57 ; ideal of strength in, 37 

Aristotle : on the senses, quoted, 
98 ; energeia, 107 

Arm-swing, rapidity of, effect, 8 

Athenians, wrestling contests of, 

39 
Axis of balance, definition, 44 

BALANCE : accuracy of, control- 
ling force, 35 ; affecting the 
feet, 17 ; axis of, 43-44 ; early 
training in, 10. In movement : 
law of, 43, 67 ; principle of, 4, 
68 

Baldwin, Professor, on the activi- 
ties of the nervous system, 34 

Bats, sense of approach, vibration, 
101 

Body-weight : support of, in walk- 
ing, 29 ; distribution of, in 
water, 30 ; when required, 7 



Brain : activities, classified, 88- 
89 ; clogging of registration, 

94 ; hereditary weaknesses of, 

95 ; influence on, of tension, 
85 ; reflex action of physical 
movement upon, 84 ; as trans- 
mitter, 89 

Browning, quotation from, 93 
Buddha, poise of, 28 
Bull, M. Lucien, 53 



CAMILLA OF THE VOLSCIANS, 65 

Centre of gravity : connection 
with tension, 23 ; of curves by 
movement of limbs, 43 ; in 
movement, 35 ; proper to a 
moving body, 42 ; where placed, 
30 

Charioteer (Capitol, Rome), de- 
scription, 70 ; movement of, 
demonstrated, 71 

Chinese, design used by, to repre- 
sent Eternity, 56 

Chinese wrestling, 40-41 

Concentration, type of, demanded 
for performing sequential exer- 
cises, 91-92 

Consciousness : definition, 90 ; 
control by means of, 87 ; how 
obtained, 86 

Consciousness, full, not implying 
s0//-consciousness, 87 

Controlled action resulting from 
continuous motor-existence, 94 

Criminals, experiments on, 26 

141 



INDEX 



Curves : as affected by the pivot, 
46 ; geometrical law in relation 
to, 43 ; true definition, 44 

DANCERS, professional, manner of 
walking, 20 

Dancing, professional, effect of, on 
toes and muscles, 20 

Diaphragm : connection of, with 
the mind, 105 ; development of, 
importance, 24, 26 ; tension of, 
28 ; reaction of, upon the spirit, 
106 ; slackness of, effect, 27 

Discobolus (bad copy of at 
Florence), 69 

Discobolus (of Myron), final posi- 
tion, 7 ; position described, 6- 
7 ; representation in movement, 
difficulty of, 8 ; referred to, 5, 
69 

Discobolus (Vatican, Rome), mis- 
take shown in, 68 

Discus : momentum, source of, 
7 ; throwing of, described, 6 

EGYPTIANS, design used by, to 

represent Eternity, 56 
Emerson, on the educated will, 

quoted, 95 
Epictetus, on self-control, quoted, 

93 
Eternity, ancient symbol of, 57 

FEET : balance depending on for- 
mation of, 16 ; importance and 
care of, 36 ; diagrams of, before 
and after training, 12, 13, 14 ; 
and knees, connection between, 
16, 17 ; training of, 10, 18 

Fighting Theseus (Paris), position 
described and explained, 74 

142 



Force, economy of : on what it 
depends, 35 ; resulting in beauty 
of movement, 35 

Fortuna (Naples), poise of, de- 
scribed, 81, 82 

GEOMETRICAL MOVEMENT, see 
Movement, Geometrical 

Greek dance, balance in move- 
ment shown by, 82 

Greek dancing boy, vase painting, 
description, 82-^83 

Greek vases, exercises shown on, 10 

Greeks : connection between the 
diaphragm and the mind recog- 
nised by, 104 ; early training, 
10 ; formation of foot, n ; 
ideals of, as to highest develop- 
ment, 103 ; muscular condition, 
2 ; physical superiority, I ; slim- 
ness of hips, cause, 25 ; spirit as 
regarded by, 104 ; wrestling, 
38, 39. 40 

HAEMON, on the phrenes, 105 

Harmony, definitions, 57 

Heredity : hypothesis of, 95 ; 
becomes a science, 95 

"He"ros Combattant" (Louvre), 
description and explanation, 
72-74 

Hindus, design used by, repre- 
senting Eternity, 56 

Hippisley, Colonel : on the centre 
of gravity, 50 ; description of 
designs by, showing figures by 
a moving arm travelling ellip- 
tically on a pivot, 46-51 

Homer, " harmony," word as de- 
fined by, 57 

Homer, Iliad, will-power alluded 
to in, quoted, 107-108 ; referred 
to, 3 



INDEX 



INFANTS, diaphragm movement of, 
25 

JAMES, WILLIAM : on brain func- 
tion, quoted, 89 ; on concen- 
tration, quoted, 92 

Japanese wrestling : origin, 40 ; 
resemblance to Greek, 40 

Jujutsu : origin, 40 ; throws 
described, 40 

KEATS, quotation from, 114 
Knees : bracing of muscles of, 31 ; 

effect on, of high-heeled shoes, 

18-19 ; and foot, connection 

between, 17-18 
Krause, Professor, " Hellenika 

Gymnastik und Agonistik," by, 

referred to, 40 

LEONARDO DA VINCI, 67 
Loewy, Professor, on the 
Charioteer, 71 ; quoted, 5 

MAREY, Professor, 64 

Mental processes, chain of, 90-91 

Mentally deficient children, latest 
method of training, 85 

Movement : beauty in, how ob- 
tained, 58 ; of body in water, 
30 ; disconnected, definition, 33- 
34. Geometrical : explanation 
of plates, 53-62 ; laws govern- 
ing, 52 ; possible connection 
with ancient symbolism, 62 ; 
symbolism in, 56 ; harmonised, 
definition, 57 ; necessity for 
mathematical accuracy, 67 ; law 
of rhythmical, 36. Sequential : 
acceleration acquired by, 36 ; 
definition and explanation, 34 ; 
results of practice of, 91. Reflex 
action of, 84. Types of, 33 



Muscle : full consciousness of, 
definition, 86-87 tension of, 
see Tension 

OPTICAL REGISTRATION : of geo- 
metric movement, definition and 
explanation of plates, 53, 54, 55 ; 
key to plates, 58-59 

PAESTUM, Temple of Neptune, 37 

Pallas Athena of Aeginetan Pedi- 
ment, description and explana- 
tion, 79-80 

Pettigrew, Professor, experiments 
of, in design and movement, 64 

Physical force, in relation to 
geometrical movement, 53 

Physical Training : anatomical 
knowledge not essential to, 86 ; 
origin, 38 

Pivot : alteration in position of, 
44 ; curves described by, 45 ; 
see Axis of Balance 

Poise, result on feet of perfect, 17- 
18 

Preliminary position of exercises : 
definition, 28, 29 ; instructions 
for, 29 

REFLEX ACTION OF PHYSICAL 

MOVEMENT, 84 

Richet, Professor Charles, 53, 64 
Rod, Edouard, on the idea of 

movement in architecture, 37 

SARGENT, referred to, 67 

Schroeder, Dr., on interpretation 
of the word " hieros," 104 

Sculpture, antique : principle of 
balance in movement exempli- 
fied by, 69 

Self-consciousness an obstacle to 
full consciousness, 87 

H3 



INDEX 



Shoes, recommended, 19 
Socrates, on self-control, quoted, 92 
Spartans, mimic battles of, 39 
Spirit, Greek conception of, 105 
Statues, principles of balance 
shown by, 3 

TENDON ACHILLES, exercise for 
the test of, 62 

Tension : as affecting centre of 
gravity in movement, 42 ; af- 
fecting sequential movement, 
36 ; condition of, described, 97 ; 
definition, 21 ; connection of, 
with centre of gravity, 23 ; 
increase of will-power by means 
of, 96 ; maximum activity 
gained by means of, 93 ; physical 
and mental processes connected 
by, 85 ; resistant power of, 
99-100 ; special conditions of, 
shown in representation of the 
Fortuna, 81 ; vibration in- 
creased by means of, 98 

Titian, 67 

UNREGISTERED IMPRESSIONS, con- 
stituting the subconscious self, 
94 



VIBRATION, increasing receptivity 
and resistance, 98 



WAIST, muscles controlling tension 
at, 24 

Walking : support of body in, 
31 ; tension required in, 35, 
36 

Weight-contact, 44 

Will-power : control depending 
on, 90 ; definitions, 96 ; de- 
pending on strength of dia- 
phragm, 106 ; effect of, on 
muscles, 3 ; instinctive and 
uncontrolled, 96 ; of the mother 
on the unborn child, 95 ; as 
recognised in the Iliad, 107- 
108 ; by tension, 97 

Wrestling : of the Greeks, inven- 
tion attributed to, 40 ; intro- 
duction of, into Japan, 41 ; 
preparatory exercises for, 39 ; 
by tripping, 40 



YOUTH OF SUBIACO (ascribed to 
Myron, Rome), position de- 
scribed and explained, 75 



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reasing receptivity 
e, 98 



controlling tension 

port of body in, 
required in, 35, 

,44 
control depending 

initions, 96 ; de- 
j strength of dia- 
(6 ; effect of, on 
; instinctive and 
., 96 ; of the mother 
orn child, 95 ; as 
in the Iliad, 107- 
.sion, 97 

the Greeks, inven- 
tted to, 40 ; intro- 

into Japan, 41 ; 

exercises for, 39 ; 
40 



JBIACO (ascribed to 
me), position de- 
explained, 75 



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305 De Neve Drive - Parking Lot 17 Box 951388 

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA 90095-1388 

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