The most beautiful Greek portrait statue that we possess is the Lateran Sophocles. The figure has numerous small restorations, including the feet and the box of manuscript rolls. That Sophocles, the tragic poet, is represented, is known from the likeness of the head to a bust inscribed with his name. He died in 406 B.C. The style of our statue, however, points to an original (if it be not itself the original) of about the middle of the fourth century. There were probably in existence at this time authentic likenesses of the poet, on which the sculptor based his work. The attitude of the figure is the perfection of apparent ease, but in reality of skilful contrivance to secure a due balance of parts and anety and grace of line. The one garment, drawn closely about the person, illustrates the inestimable good fortune enjoyed by the Greek sculptor, in contrast with the sculptor of to-day, in having to represent a costume so simple, so pliant, so capable of graceful adjustment. The head, however much it may contain of the actual look of Sophocles, must be idealized. To appreciate it properly one must remember that this poet, though he dealt with tragic themes, was not wont to brood over the sin and sorrow and unfathomable mystery of the world, but was serene in his temper and prosperous in his life.
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