The Greeks’ profound studies about the human anatomy are reflected in the marble statues seen in the museum nowadays. The Classical style in Greek is the cross-cultural merging of the Greek and Roman styles (Mancoff and Bosch 38). The sculptures made during this period were realistic and natural; they are carved nude in marble along with the perfect body figures. One of the greatest products of the classical style is the Discobolus or the Discus Thrower by the 5th century Greek sculptor, Myron. In his work, the statue represents extreme concentration before throwing the discus at the target. The discus thrower is a man carved in a white marble posed in an act of throwing the discus on its target. The framework of the body defines absolute perfection which can be seen on the well-proportioned body. The Classical style focuses more on single postures such as standing postures of naked men and women doing only one single activity. Myron is said to be the first Classical Greek sculptor who mastered the symmetry of the human body. Analyzing the statue of the thrower, the upper part resembles an inverted trapezoid. Starting from the chest, the waist narrows further and widens up to the hips. The extended arms form the base of the trapezoid. However, Myron’s Discus Thrower although its body is well-proportioned, the figure is surreal and idealized. As argued by Adams in her book entitled, Art, A Beginner’s Guide, she stated that there was no facial expression and personality (45).
“The dome shaped head corresponds to the circular discus he holds and the geometry of the conception is evident in the two arcs of movement that converge at the neck. Hence, Myron’s statue satisfies Aristotle’s criteria for a work of art; its scale is appropriate and its structure is a unified whole, which is both geometric and proportional (45).
Moving forward, the Hellenistic style that flourished in ancient Greece happened after the death of Alexander the Great. Compared to the Classical style, the Hellenistic is more focused in expressionism and sculptors during this era experimented with various subjects (Pollitt 66). For example, The Galatian Suicide, also known as the Gallic Chieftain Killing Himself and his Wife here is a visual representation of anatomical proportionality and grotesque expression bundled into one. On the contrary, The Galatian Suicide is more than just a marble statue on its own. It is a statue that contains life and emotion. The expressions made by the Galatian chieftain is conveys his proud and arrogant nature despite his death. His left hand supports his wife, who is kneeling beside him with agony and sorrow written on her face. The muscles are well defined and the skin which is smooth; the draperies appears very much realistic compared to the sculptures of the classical style. The folds of the dress play with the light which added to the dramatic look portrayed by the statue.
“The heroic Gallic chieftain defiantly drives his dagger deep into his breast just below his collarbone, preferring suicide rather than to surrender. He already has taken the life of his wife, who, if captured, would have been sold as a slave” (Kleiner 157).
Furthermore, the Hellenistic style explored and created sculptures based from the lives of the common people along with the powerful emotions they portray; anger, lust, sorrow and proudness. The innovations made by both sculptors of Hellenistic and Classical styles opened new pathways in studying the human anatomy and perfectionism in arts through the use of simple materials such as marbles. The Classical and Hellenistic style created and developed the succeeding styles such as the Renaissance wherein the focus is about the aesthetic of the human body. My final thought about this paper, is that if I can bring one of these ancient sculptures I will choose The Galatian Suicide because although it is only a statue, however one can feel the agony and the emotions that the sculptor wants us to tell; the sad story of a man and a woman who has no other option of freedom other than death.
Adams, Laurie. Art: A Beginner’s Guide. 1st ed. Oxford, England: Oneworld Publications, 2012. Print.
Kleiner, Fred. Gardner's Art through The Ages: A Global History. 14th ed. Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2013. Print.
Mancoff, Debra N, and Lindsay J Bosch. Icons of Beauty. 1st ed. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood Press, 2010. Print.
Pollitt, Jerome Jordan. Art in The Hellenistic Age. 1st ed. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire]: Cambridge University Press, 1986. Print.