They are of three genres: literary, epigraphic, papyrological. Since the century Street. C. we have news of Greek artists who wrote about their art or the works they made. Thus we can mention among the architects, for this 6th century, Theodore, Chersiphron and Metagene, for the 6th century. V, Ictino and Carpione, for the century. IV Satyr, Pizio, Philo, Hermogenes. All this is mentioned in the preface to books III and VII of Vitruvius’s work, De Architectura, in which mention is also made of technical treatises, Silenus, Philo, Arcesia, who wrote works on the symmetries of temples. Polycletus, author of the Canon, should be mentioned among the treatise sculptors, which concerned the laws of symmetry of the human body, Silanione and Eufranore of the century. IV and, in Hellenism, Xenocrates, the pupil of Lysippus, and Pasitele. For painting we have Agatarco samio, scenographer, and, according to Pliny (Nat. Hist., XXXV, 79 and Index auctorum, XXXV), Parrasio, Euphranor, Apelles. The greatest of the art historians, whose name we know, is Duride of Samo, who flourished in the mid-century. IV a. C., author of books on painters and bronze sculptors, in which anecdotes prevailed. Add Callisseno of Rhodes and Adeo of Mitilene (end of the 4th century BC), who also wrote about painters and sculptors. After the art historians are the periegets, or descriptors of cities and towns, and therefore of artistic monuments, which multiplied especially when, during the Roman Empire, Greece and the Greek coasts of Asia Minor became a pilgrimage destination on the part of of the Romans. The oldest periegeta is Diodorus of Athens (2nd half of the 4th century BC), who described monuments of his city. Then come the Athenian Heliodorus (3rd century BC), author of fifteen books on the Acropolis, Democritus, Menodotus, Anaxandrides, etc. Particularly noteworthy is Polemon (2nd century BC), a great traveler and author of descriptions of Athenian, Sicilian, Spartan and Delphic monuments. All of this has been lost; the only remaining periegesi, and very precious, is that of Pausanias,Periegesi of Greece. Born in Lydia, and lived in the second half of the century. II d. C., he is the author of ten books on Greece written in the form of travel, in which the following regions are described: Attica, the Corinthian territory, the Spartan one, Messenia, Elis with the sanctuary of Olympia, the Achaia, Arcadia, Boeotia, Phocis with the sanctuary of Delphi. Unfortunately, the western and eastern parts of Greece and the islands (except Aegina) are not covered. Pausanias is a detailed list, but he has no sense of art; he sometimes dwells on the minutiae, but often does not describe the artistic work and does not say its qualities; often instead tells mythical and historical anecdotes. He draws from second hand, and does not exercise criticism of the news; but nevertheless it seems certain, contrary to what has been supposed,
Another source, and also very precious, is Pliny the Elder with the last five books of his Naturalis Historia ; the information he gives are pure and simple digressions from what concerns, in his encyclopedic naturalistic work, the treatment of metals. They are information drawn second-hand from the work Disciplinarum libri novem by M. Terenzio Varrone, which in turn dates back to the Greek sources, and from the works of C. Licinio Muciano and from lists and anecdotes collected for the schools of rhetoricians.
Other historical-artistic information can be drawn from the writings of Luciano di Samosata, a writer with a true sense of art, and a precursor of artistic criticism. Add epigrams from the Anthology, magnifying certain works of art, minor sources, including the writings of Plato, Eliano, Ateneo, Cicero (especially the Verrines). The descriptions of the paintings of the two Filostrati, and of the statues of Callistratus, have much less value, being nothing but rhetorical exercises on almost all imaginative themes.
In the epigraphic sources we must distinguish two series: the series of epigraphs on monuments or relating to monuments, and that of the authors’ signatures. The first includes the votive inscriptions (e.g. the dedicatory inscription of Alexander the Great on a pillar of the temple of Athena in Priene) and the inscriptions relating to both the construction and the sculptural decoration of architectural monuments (e.g. the inscriptions relating to the buildings on the Acropolis of Athens; that relating to the Asclepieus of Epidaurus). The second series includes the signatures of painters and vase makers, and those of sculptors. About a hundred signatures of potters are known, of which, of course, the literary tradition does not mention. The signatures of the sculptors give us news of many artists, from the century. Street. C. until the times of the Roman Empire; but the signed statues that have come down to us are not many and are almost all by secondary sculptors. Mostly the signatures of first-rate artists are given to us by bases; a singular example is instead that of the statue of Peonio di Mende in Olympia, which we know through the original, provided with the base on which is the author’s signature. Sometimes from the traces left on the surface of the base by the lost statue it is possible to reconstruct the statue itself. This is the case of the base found in Olimpia by the boxer Cinisco, the work of Polykleitos; the study of the base has led some to recognize a copy of the Cinisco in the type of the so-called Westimacott athlete of the British Museum. Fewer, but still important, are the signatures of architects, painters and mosaicists, gem carvers, coin engravers.
Lastly, even the papyri found in Egypt sometimes contain information concerning the history of Greek art; the surest and most notable example is offered by a fragment of a list of winners in the Olympics, including the Olympics 76-83, that is, the years between 476 and 448; With this fragment it was possible to better understand the chronology of sculptors such as Pythagoras, Mirone, Polycletus, thanks to the dating of the Olympians mentioned in the papyrus, whose statues, made by the said sculptors, are mentioned by Pausanias and other sources.