No work of sculpture of ancient or modern times has given rise to such an extensive literature as the Laocoon. None has been more lauded and more blamed. Hawthorne "felt the Laocoon very powerfully, though very quietly; an immortal agony, with a strange calmness diffused through it, so that it resembles the vast rage of the sea, calm on account of its immensity."
Ruskin, on the other hand, thinks "that no group has exercised so pernicious an influence on art as this; a subject ill chosen, meanly conceived, and unnaturally treated, recommended to imitation by subtleties of execution and accumulation of technical knowledge," Of the two verdicts the latter is surely much nearer the truth.
The calmness which Hawthorne thought he saw in the Laocoon is not there; there is only a terrible torment. Battle, wounds, and death were staple themes of Greek sculpture from first to last; but nowhere else is the representation of physical suffering, pure and simple, so forced upon us, so made the "be-all and end-all" of a Greek work. As for the date of the group, opinion still varies considerably. The probabilities seem to point to a date not far removed from that of the Pergamene altar; i.e., to the first half of the second century B.C.
 "Italian Note-books," under date of March 10,1858.
 "Modern Painters," Part II, Section II, Chap. III.
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