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Video transcript

one of the most exceptional objects to have survived from antiquity in Delfy is the charioteer this figure was part of a very significant expensive monument that included a team of horses and a groom now chariot races were common at athletic competitions and they were athletic competitions that we all know about at Olympia the Olympics but there were also athletic competitions here at the sanctuary at Delfy and people would commemorate particular victories this particular sculpture was commissioned by a king or a tyrant from Sicily and there were Greek city-states or poulos's in Sicily that competed in these games and so you can imagine that when you would create an elaborate bronze sculpture like this that was commemorating a particular victory you were really showing off this was a kind of trophy and a very public one Delfy was a place that all of the city-states came to compete and to honor and make dedications to the god Apollo it's showing off not only because of what it represents but because of what it's made out of this is bronze which was a very expensive material it's largely copper with a little bit of tin and this was cast it's hollow in fact where the arm is missing and on the opposite side you can actually see how thin the bronze is still has glass paste eyes and it would have been inlaid with silver this tremendous workmanship here the silver went around his headband and you can see very finely cut pieces of bronze that were used for his eyelashes he seems remarkably lifelike what's interesting about this sculpture is that here we are in what we call the early Classical period sometimes referred to as the severe style we have the beginnings of naturalism and what's interesting to me about the sculpture is that in some ways he's very lifelike the way he turns his head but at the same time where you see in contrapposto but his body is very columnar there's not a lot of sense of movement in his torso well the moment that's being represented is not the moment of winning the race it's not that kind of active moment instead this is the moment of quiet victory afterwards well not only that the legs would not have been visible since they were in the chariot that might explain why it's attenuated that is why the figures like seem to be a bit too long that's accentuated because the drape is belted very high above the waist and look at those folds they really remind us of the fluting of a Greek column and look at the way the drapery billows out above the belt so he's not strictly frontal we might think about a Kouros figure a male nude figure during the Archaic period here he's not frontal he turns a little bit to the right he lifts his arm out you see the beginnings of an interest in a more open pose that will become much more popular in the Classical period in other words not a figure with his arms firmly attached to his body the legs are parallel but they lack the stiffness of the earlier archaic kouros look at the delicacy for instance with which the feet are represented these are no longer symbols that are being incised into stone this is clearly the product of the careful study of the anatomy of the human body this is based on direct observation you know I almost feel like I'm at the games and this is the moment when the winners are being celebrated and this great athlete is there to be admired by the crowd