The Laocoonte And His Children, The Unusual Roman Sculpture

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The laocoonte and his children, the unusual Roman sculpture

The work we are about to comment is the laocoonte and his children, it is a round bulk sculpture carved in marble. We must emphasize that it is a Roman copy of the S. I d. C. Made from an original bronze original. III a.C that we do not keep, a usual practice of Roman artists. It is a sculptural group with dimensions of 2.45 m, in which three human figures appear;an adult muscular man and two young people with athletic complexion.

This work was discovered in the 16th century in the field where the town of Nero was located, where some of the Emperor’s stays would decorate. Having great importance in the Baroque, it would be an inspiration for artists such as Bernini, which would be impressed by his drama and dynamism, even being an inspiration for later artists such as El Greco, being described by authors such as Plinius el Viejo (23-79 D.C) As a work that is preferable to all others. It is currently in the Vatican Museum, the theme of this figurative sculpture has its origin in Greek mythology, which represents a laocoonte, a priest of the temple of Apollo in Troy. According to the episode of the Aeneid, it would be he, who would warn the Trojan people that they would not let the wooden horse pass that the Greeks had left at the city’s doors as a "gift", with these words;"I fear the Greeks when they make gifts". Shortly after this warning, Laoconte and his children would be strangled by two sea snakes that by order of the goddess Athena, since the gods had taken sides in the war itself while on the side of the Greeks.

There is on the other hand, another literary version about why the laocoonte had awakened the wrath of the gods that is given by the lost tragedy of Sophloques, where the character awakens the anger of the god Apollo by having desecrated the honor of being a priest marrying and havingsons. In the representation, the symbolic role played by snakes, Porce and Caribea, both in history and sculpture, can be highlighted. We know that the snake has been a widely used element in art history to represent evil. However, this case, the figure of the snakes commanded by Athena are a symbol of the dangerous individual at the service of a god. Giving them a name and distinguishing them from the rest responds to a constant story of the diverse cultures about the "principle of twinity" . One of the snakes, whose head is not preserved to look at the priest directly in the face, while the other would nail his fangs into his thigh, which would cause him a cry of pain that would be immortalized in the stone.

If we observe the composition well we see how one of the priest’s children has surrendered in his struggle, while another hits his foot and looks at his father trying to convey his father’s finger to his father. Snakes in the composition also fulfill a very practical function, since they function as a link between the characters. Finally, analyzing Laocoonte, we must consider it no longer as a priest, but as a man whom the gods have abandoned and who desperately seeks helping the sky.

As formal issues of sculpture, it is noteworthy that the composition is based on the intersection of an oblique lines that are present in the laocoon and their children, as well as the snakes that surround them. The group of sculptures is organized around a pyramidal composition and is designed to be observed from different points of view, although the central figure (laoconde) is preferable to admire it from a frontal point of view. It is a sculptural set that perfectly reflects the technical characteristics of the Hellenic sculpture, perfectly plasacrating the pathos that characterizes the authors of this moment. Also highlighting the game of lights and leftovers that are evident in the muscles and faces of the characters. The pose of the individuals represented is totally unstable, which differs with the sculptural approaches of the classic period, in which the bodies remain at rest poses. It is this dynamism, which transmits the intensity of the physical and spiritual suffering of the priest. This, we can also see in other works of the same period as the "altar of Zeus" with the Athena of the Focus of Pergamo. It is in the realism of the nake. All these characteristics would be reproduced later in the Baroque, in what we know as "Baroque Hellenism" .

Regarding the identification of the work. This sculptural group is attributed to the Rodas School, which we can frame in the last stage of Greek sculpture, Hellenistic century (IV century to C). In which the Greek culture would reach its maximum extension under the control of Alexander the Great, thus receiving oriental influences. This stage will last until the Roman era consuming the universalization of Greek culture. As for the author, we know that this work was carried out AGESANDRO (or HAGESANDRO), ARENORODO AND POLADORO DE RODAS and will probably be sculpted between 170 and 150 to.C. This sculpture would be linking to the Pergamo school.

Something that is interesting when analyzing the work is to raise its possible meaning. The time chosen to be reflected in the stone, takes place in the midst of the action, would be comparable to a frame of a film, which we do not know the end, is therefore an eternal suffering, which could be interpreted as a criticism of truth,as well as reminds us that death is something that awaits us all in an inevitable way.

On the other hand, it is also worth mentioning, what Ernst Gombrich raises us in his work History of Art (1950, Phaidon). In which he wonders, in itself the motivation for the realization of the sculpture would be the complaint about how a man perishes to achieve a common good or is simply a display of technical virtuosity by the authors. Ends up responding with these words:

“Art largely lost its ancient connection with religion and magic […] The unfair or fair of the Locoonte fue.”(Gombrich, 1950, P.111)

In conclusion, each one can make an assessment about the laocoonte and their children, but we cannot ignore its value as one of the most important works of classical sculpture, as we must highlight its impressive technique that demonstrates the consolidation of cultureGreek.


  • Galván Romarate-Zabala, to. (s.F.). Ana stories. Art and design blog. Retrieved November 9, 2019, from http: // artpower
  • González Zimla, H. (s.F.). The symbology of the snake in ancient religions: around the possible biological causes that explain their sacredness and importance. Retrieved November 9, 2019, from https: // www.Google.It is/URL?SA = t
  • Imaginary, a. (2019, August 16). Locoonte sculpture and their children: characteristics, analysis and meaning. Retrieved November 9, 2019, from https: // www.Great
  • Marika Masia, M. (s.F.). The laocoonte. Retrieved November 9, 2019, from http: //
  • Marx, t. (2011). Locoonte and their children: the aesthetics of pain and the fertile moment. Tenerife: Grin Verlag.

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