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The Significance Of The Discobolus Essay

949 words - 4 pages

The Discobolus is one of the most recognisable and influential artistic pieces to emerge from Ancient Greece. The Discobolus was a bronze sculptured depicting an athlete throwing a discus and was created by prolific Greek artist Myron of Eleutherae (Harris & Zucker 2012). Although a precise date of creation is unknown, it is widely theorised that the sculpture was created between 450 and 460 BCE (Harris & Zucker 2012). Myron’s original Discobolus no longer exists, with evidence indicating that it was destroyed by Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius in 2nd Century C.E (Harris & Zucker 2012). However, it should be acknowledged that primary Greek evidence detailing the origins, creation and ...view middle of the document...

Roman author Lucian Samosata provides a vivid primary description of the statue, stating, “it is the one bent over into the throwing-position, with his head turned back to the hand that holds the discus, and the opposite knee slightly flexed, like one who will spring up again after the throw” (Haskell, F & Penny, N 1981). The uniqueness of the Discobolus is its innate ability to capture an athlete in motion, transitioning between swinging backwards and throwing forwards. Victoria Hooper (2010) comments on the sense of motion the discobolus portrays, declaring that the sculpture, “looks as if it is merely pausing, about to burst into life at any moment.” Thus, the Discobolus is distinguished by the fluency, smoothness and harmony of the movement it captures, all of which were cherished and influential values in Greece during the classical era (Hirst 2012) (Harris & Zucker 2012).
Consequently, the Discobolus is represents a drastic change in prevailing Greek thinking. Myron elected to focus on the aesthetic qualities of man in creating a physically realistic sculpture (Harris & Zucker 2012). This decision reflected an increased social and philosophical emphasis on ‘humanism’ in Greece, regarding man and his abilities above all else (Hooper 2010). This is attitude was eloquently captured by Greek philosopher Protagoras who stated, “man is the measure of all things.” As such, the Discobolus was not intended to depict any one individual, but rather an aesthetically ‘perfect’ athletic figure. The Discobolus therefore strove to portray the human body as a thing of beauty (Hirst 2012), which is why the statue is nude, as the Greeks recognized the nude body as being “sufficient” in itself, and not shameful (Hirst 2012). Hence, the Discobolus encapsulates a quintessential Greek obsession with creating an ‘idealized’ human form.
This rather radical belief in humanism marked a revolutionary shift in thinking for the Greeks, from placing gods at the...

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