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Myron, Discobolus (Discus Thrower), Roman copy of an ancient Greek bronze

Video transcript

ancient Greek sculptures bronze or marble or frozen but that doesn't mean that the inter Greeks didn't want to convey movement in this case movement that you couldn't even see with the naked eye what we're looking at is a sculpture by an artist whose name is Myron we've lost his original but we have a later Roman marble copy of the discus thrower the original was in bronze from the 5th century BCE about 450 460 and what we're looking at is one of many Roman copies in fact there's one next to the other in this museum a testament to how popular these were among the Romans the sculpture shows a man who is at that moment where his body is fully wound look at the way that his right leg is bearing the weight of his body his left leg the toes are bent under dragging slightly and he's about to throw that discus there's this moment of a tremendous tension but it's also this moment of stasis stillness right before the action athletes and art historians have debated whether this is even an actual pose that the discus thrower takes in the process it's so interesting because when we think back about the history of the Greek figure we think first of the archaic kouros who is so stiff and so stylized and then we have the tremendous breakthroughs of people like poly colitis who develop an understanding of the body and show it in contrapposto but here we have something that's so dynamic and so complex and just look at the arc of the shoulders and the arms in the way that they reverse the arc of the twist of the hips that is the overriding concern of Myron the sculptor to capture the aesthetic qualities here the sense of balance and harmony and the beauty in the proportions of the body there is kind of anti realism here for all of its care naturalism there is no real strain within the body it is absolutely at rest and ideal even in this extreme pose if you think about it figure from much later but in a similar pose of movement of athletic energy like Bernie knees David well that's got all this torsion absolutely that figure expresses all of the physical power in the face these clenching is T it's true and his brow is really knit forward but here the face is absolutely serene and it reminds me of the consistency with which the Greeks always maintain their nobility even in battle even in terrible situations with monsters and here even at this moment when he's about to release the discus right that nobility that calm in the face is a sign of nobility of the human being well this is a sport and the man is naked which was what the Greeks did but there was a real logic there why would you cover up the beauty of the body in sport which is of course a celebration of what the human body can achieve this is really a way to remind ourselves of the Greeks concern with the potential of humanity the potential of the mind and the potential of the body take in that extra step to become even more ideal more heroic more noble than even the finest athlete it is a perfect form you