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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
 

F. B. Tarbell, A History of Ancient Greek Art

The Great Age of Greek Sculpture. Second Period 400-323 B.C.

Lysippus of Sicyon

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PLATO

ARISTOTLE

THE GREEK OLD TESTAMENT (SEPTUAGINT)

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It is Pliny who puts us in the way of a more direct acquaintance with this artist than the above facts can give. He makes the general statement that Lysippus departed from the canon of proportions previously followed (i.e., probably, by Polyclitus and his immediate followers), making the head smaller and the body slenderer and "dryer," and he mentions a statue by him in Rome called an Apoxyomenos, i.e., an athlete scraping himself with a strigil. A copy of such a statue was found in Rome in 1849. The fingers of the right hand with the inappropriate die are modern, as are also some additional bits here and there. Now the coincidence in subject between this statue and that mentioned by Pliny would not alone be decisive. Polyclitus also made an Apoxyomenos, and, for all we know, other sculptors may have used the same motive. But the statue in question is certainly later than Polyclitus, and its agreement with what Pliny tells us of the proportions adopted by Lysippus is as close as could be desired. We therefore need not scruple to accept it as Lysippian.

Our young athlete, before beginning his exercise, had rubbed his body with oil and, if he was to wrestle, had sprinkled himself with sand. Now, his exercise over, he is removing oil and sweat and dirt with the instrument regularly used for that purpose. His slender figure suggests elasticity and agility rather than brute strength. The face has not the radiant charm which Praxiteles would have given it, but it is both fine and alert. The eyes are deeply set; the division of the upper from the lower forehead is marked by a groove; the hair lies in expressive disorder. In the bronze original the tree-trunk behind the left leg was doubtless absent, as also the disagreeable support (now broken) which extended from the right leg to the right fore-arm.


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