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EUSTACHE le sueur.
THE rivers have been personified by the people of antiquity. They were deemed the Sons of the Ocean and of Thetis-and their number has been extended to 3000. It was customary among the Greeks to invoke them, by washing hands in their waters. This practice was proscribed by the Persians, who regarded it as repugnant to the divinity of rivers. To them sacrifices were offered, and for this ceremony they made choice of horses and bulls. The poets and artists represented the rivers under the figure of old men, as a symbol of their antiquity. By a thick beard, long hair flowing over the shoulders, and a crown of osier, they are to this day characterized. Seated on a bed of rushes, they lean against an urn, from whence the waters flow and take their rise. The figures of the rivers observable on medals, are placed on the right or left, as they direct their course towards the east or the west. They have been likewise represented with horns on their head, and even under the form of bulls. The first of these allegories is analogous to the arms of rivers-the second indicates the murmurs that issue at times from the waters. Every river, among the ancients, had its appropriate attribute, taken most frequently either from the plants or the animals of the country they refresh, or from the fish which are the more abundantly found in their bosom. The moderns have imitated this idea of the ancients. They have likewise borrowed of them the custom of
giving the figure of old men to the rivers that fall into the sea, and of young women to the less considerable rivers, which empty themselves into other rivers.
In this picture, which forms a part of the collection of the Hotel Lambert, Le Sueur has confirmed this tradition but it does not appear that it was his intention to delineate any river in particular. These two figures of the natural size imitate the basso-relievo-they have much elegance and correctness, and present, without affectation, a very agreeable contrast.