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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
 

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

The Hellenistic Period of Greek Sculpture. 323-146 B.C.

The naked boxer

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Portraiture, of course, did not confine itself to men of refinement and intellect. As an extreme example of what was possible in the opposite direction nothing could be better than the original bronze statue shown in Fig. 177. It was found in Rome in 1885, and is essentially complete, except for the missing eyeballs; the seat is new. The statue represents a naked boxer of herculean frame, his hands armed with the aestus or boxing-gloves made of leather. The man is evidently a professional "bruiser" of the lowest type. He is just resting after an encounter, and no detail is spared to bring out the nature of his occupation. Swollen ears were the conventional mark of the boxer at all periods, but here the effect is still further enhanced by scratches and drops of blood. Moreover, the nose and cheeks bear evidence of having been badly "punished," and the moustache is clotted with blood. From top to toe the statue exhibits the highest grade of technical skill. One would like very much to know what was the original purpose of the work. It may have been a votive statue, dedicated by a victorious boxer at Olympia or elsewhere. A bronze head of similar brutality found at Olympia bears witness that the refined statues of athletes produced in the best period of Greek art and set up in that precinct were forced at a later day to accept such low companionship. Or it may be that this boxer is not an actual person at all, and that the statue belongs to the domain of genre. In either case it testifies to the coarse taste of the age.

 

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