2023 Author: Leah Sherlock | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-27 12:28
Tragic work of Parian marble by three sculptors "Laocoön and his sons". The sculpture depicts the futile attempts of a father and his children to escape from the deadly embrace of snakes entwining their bodies.
The background of the myth
This story begins in very old days. The beautiful Leda, the wife of the king of Sparta Tyndareus, had a daughter, Helen, from the god Zeus. When she grew up, she became the most beautiful of all mortals.
Many suitors wooed her, but Elena chose the handsome Menelaus. After the death of Tyndareus, the royal throne was prepared for him.
The son of Priam was born to the king of Troy. The soothsayer predicted that this boy would destroy all the Trojans. At the direction of the king, he was thrown into the forest to die there, but he grew into a beautiful young man and peacefully tended the flocks.
The reasons for the start of the war between the Trojans and the Greeks
Three goddesses - Athena, Hera and Aphrodite - received from the evil goddess of discord Eris an apple with the inscription "the most beautiful". They could not share it among themselves. The cunning Hermes persuaded Paris to be the judge in their dispute. Aphrodite promised Paris the love of the most beautiful woman, Helen, andreceived the coveted apple. Paris stole Helen from Greece and took her to Troy. Thus began a long and bloody war between the Trojans and the Greeks for the beautiful Helen.
Athena took the side of the Greeks, Apollo helped the Trojans. It is desirable to know this when considering the Laocoön sculpture.
Tricks of the Greeks
For a long, long time, ten years there was a war. Troy, besieged by the Greeks, did not give up. Many heroes died on both sides. The cunning Odysseus figured out how to bring a Greek detachment of Danaans into the besieged city. The Greeks made a huge wooden horse. Athena helped them. They put their warriors in it and resorted to military cunning: they boarded their ships and sailed into the sea. With glee, the Trojans went to check the camp of the Greeks and stopped in amazement when they saw a huge horse.
Someone suggested throwing him into the sea, and someone suggested taking him to Troy as a sign of victory. This is a very important point before creating the image of the predictor. The priest Laocoön, whose sculpture will be examined, will not escape the machinations of Pallas Athena.
The innocence of the Trojans
The priest of the god Apollo came out before the fellow citizens. The Laocoön sculpture does not show this moment. He begged fellow citizens not to touch the horse, predicted great disasters. Laocoön even threw a spear at the horse, and a metal weapon rang inside. But the mind of the “winners” was completely confused. They did not believe that it was necessary to be afraid of the Danaans who brought gifts. They trusted the stranger who said that the horse should propitiatePallas Athena, if they take him to them. While he was telling this, a miracle sent by Athena came out of the sea - two giant snakes. This completely convinced the Trojans, and they took the horse to the city.
The myth of Laocoon with his sons
Laocoön and his sons prayed to Poseidon on the seashore. To them, wriggling their bodies in rings and sparkling with coal-red eyes and combs on their heads, terrible monsters swam faster and faster towards the shore. The snakes, getting out of the sea, attacked the unfortunate. This moment is reflected by the Laocoön sculpture. The snakes tightly wrapped their powerful bodies around people and are trying to strangle them. Poison bites cause not only pain, but also death. All this is shown by the Laocoön sculpture. This is what the careless faith in the victory of the people of Troy led to.
History of finding the sculpture
Two thousand two hundred years ago in Pergamon, unknown sculptors cast a sculptural group from bronze, which depicts the deadly fight of Laocoön and his sons with snakes. The original has disappeared. Its copy was carved in marble in Rhodes by the Greeks. In the Hellenistic Baroque style, the Laocoon (sculpture) has come down to us. Its author is Agesander of Rhodes and his sons Polydorus and Athenodorus. It was found in 1506 by Felix de Fridis in the vineyards under one of the Roman hills. There once stood the golden house of Nero. As soon as the pontiff Julius II learned about the valuable find, he immediately sent the architect Giuliano da Sangallo and Michelangelo to assess it. The architect immediately certified the authenticity of the work that Pliny described. Buanorroti determined that it was made from 2 pieces of marble, although Pliny spoke of a solid stone.
Her future fate
At the end of the 18th century, Bonaparte took the sculptural group to Paris. In the Louvre, it was open for inspection, and after the defeat of Napoleon, it was returned by the British to the Vatican. It is now in the Pius Clementine Museum (Vatican).
Laocoön's right hand was found in 1905 by the Czech archaeologist Ludwig Pollak in a Roman stonemason's shop and donated it to the Vatican Museum. In 1957, she was inserted into the sculptural composition (data taken from the article in English Digital Sculpture Project: Laocoön).
Several copies have been made of it. Italian - on the island of Rhodes and in the Uffizi Gallery, Moscow - in the Pushkin Museum im. Pushkin, Odessa - in front of the Museum of Archeology.
"Laocoon", sculpture: description
Laocoön's figure attracts the most attention because of the fact that it is located in the center, and also because the authors carefully worked out every muscle of his powerful body. The Trojan struggles with all his might against two huge snakes. Strength is already leaving him, and he begins to settle on the altar. He is still trying to support himself. Left foot rests toes on the ground. The right leg is bent and touches the altar. The left hand tries in vain to remove the snake's head from the body. She is ready to deliver a deadly bite, her mouth is already open and deadly teeth are visible. The right hand of Laocoön is curved and entwined with all rings.the same snake. His head is turned back. His mouth opened in a grimace of pain and horror at the impending death of his sons, from the intense struggle and awareness of his own inevitable death.
This is how the soothsayer Laocoön looks like. The sculpture, the description of which continues, evokes bitter forebodings of the inevitable death of both Laocoön and his sons.
To his right, the youngest son is completely coiled by a serpent. He raised his trembling right hand, but the snake had already bitten him on the armpit. The young man begins to fall, walking towards the altar where his father is.
We continue to consider the sculptural composition "Laocoön with his sons". Sculpture description ends.
The older brother to his father's left turns his face full of horror, with a mute request to release him from the snake's tail wrapped around his leg.
He can't handle it with one hand. However, it seems to the viewer that he has a hope of being alive, which, unfortunately, is not true. All three of them will die.
I would like to complete the description with two quotes. Euripides: "Nothing pleases the gods more than the sight of human suffering." Sophocles also described the Greek gods well: “The gods are more willing to help a person when he goes to meet his death.”
The interest of Roman emperors in this sculpture
The Roman imperial house considered themselves descendants of the Trojans. It was their hero Aeneas, the son of the goddess Venus, who fled to the banks of the Tiber. He married Lavinia and founded a city in her honor (Practice deMare). His brother Ascanius founded Alba Longo (now Castel Gandolfo). In this place, in a few generations, the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, will be born. Roman emperors boasted that they were descended from the gods.
Viewers believe that Lessing is right that when depicting the severe pain experienced by Laocoön, the sculpture should be subject to the laws of beauty. Laocoön does not scream, but only groans. Athena sent an unjust execution for him. He is only guilty of warning his fellow citizens against the dangerous gift of the Danaans, who were patronized by Athena. Man is just a helpless toy in the hands of the gods.
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