Parrhasius (Παρράσιος) of Ephesus was the son of Evenor and one of the greatest painters of Ancient Greece. He settled in Athens, and may be ranked among the Attic artists. The period of his activity is fixed by the anecdote which Xenophon records of the conversation between him and Socrates on the subject of art; he was therefore distinguished as a painter before 399 BC. Seneca relates a tale that Parrhasius bought one of the Olynthians whom Philip sold into slavery, 346 BC, and tortured him in order to have a model for a picture of the bound Prometheus for the Parthenon in Athens; but the story, which is similar to one told of Michelangelo, is chronologically impossible.
Pliny describes his contest with Zeuxis: The latter painted some grapes so perfectly that birds came to peck at them. He then called on Parrhasius to draw aside the curtain and show his picture, but, finding that his rival's picture was the curtain itself, he acknowledged himself to be surpassed, for Zeuxis had deceived birds, but Parrhasius had deceived Zeuxis.
He was universally placed in the very first rank among painters. His skillful drawing of outlines is especially praised, and many of his drawings on wood and parchment were preserved and highly valued by later painters for purposes of study. He first attained skill in making his figures appear to stand out from the background. His picture of Theseus adorned the Capitol in Rome. His other works, besides the obscene subjects with which he is said to have amused his leisure, are chiefly mythological groups. A picture of the Demos, the personified People of Athens, is famous; according to the story, which is probably based upon epigrams, the twelve prominent characteristics of the people, though apparently quite inconsistent with each other, were distinctly expressed in this figure.
（Παρράσιος). A famous Greek painter of Ephesus, who with Zeuxis was the chief representative of the Ionic school. He lived about B.C. 400 at Athens, where he seems to have received the citizenship. According to the accounts of ancient writers, he first introduced into painting the theory of human proportions, gave to the face delicate shades of expression, and was a master in the careful drawing of contours (Pliny , Pliny H. N. xxxv. 67, 68). His skill in indicating varieties of psychological expression could be appreciated in the picture representing the Athenian State or Δῆμος, in which, according to ancient authors, he distinctly portrayed all the conflicting qualities of the Athenian national character. Another of his pictures represented two boys, one of whom seemed to personify the pertness, and the other the simplicity, of boyhood. His inclination to represent excited states of mind is attested by the choice of subjects like the feigned madness of Odysseus, and the anguish of Philoctetes in Lemnos. His supposed contest with Zeuxis is well known. The grapes painted by Zeuxis deceived the birds, which flew to peck at them; while the curtain painted by Parrhasius deceived Zeuxis himself (Pliny , ib. 65). See Pictura; Zeuxis.