curtains as illusion

Parrhasius, of Ephesus, a famous Greek painter who lived c.400 BC and practised mostly at Athens. The story of his contest with the younger painter Zeuxis in producing illusion is wellknown. Zeuxis painted some grapes so naturalistically that birds came to peck at them, and victory seemed to be his. He then asked Parrhasius to draw back the curtain concealing the latter's picture, but the curtain turned out to have been painted by Parrhasius. Zeuxis declared himself defeated; he had succeeded in deceiving the birds, but Parrhasius had succeeded in deceiving him.

from The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature


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