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Current time:0:00Total duration:4:14

Video transcript

almost always when we look at Greek sculpture were looking at Roman copies we're looking at marble copies of what had once been bronze but bronze is expensive and it's reusable and so for the 2,000 years since these objects were made there was ample opportunity for them to be melted down but once in a while we find a Greek original we're looking at the seated boxer a Greek Hellenistic sculpture from about 100 BC now Hellenistic refers to this period after Alexander the Great so this is the last phase of ancient Greek art because the Hellenistic will end when the Romans conquered Greece because it's bronze we'd have an opportunity to understand how the Greeks constructed their large-scale sculpture this is lost wax casting and it would be chased so you could actually carve into portions and we can see that especially in the beard and in the hair so those lines are cut into the surface so the sculpture is hollow in other words well we can see that if you look into the eyes if you look into the mouth you can see the hollowness now originally there would have been eyes they're missing they probably would have been ivory or some sort of glass paste something reflective and highly polished but yes we can see that this is quite thin if we knocked on it it would ring like a bell a few moments ago as we were looking at it there was someone standing in the very place that he seems to be looking and I almost felt like he was in actual dialogue with someone he has that tremendous sense of presence doesn't he he does during this Hellenistic period we see a real expansion of the subject matter that we usually think of as Greek art usually we think about ideal beautiful nude athletic young figures well this is an athletic figure but he's not young and he's not beautiful in the traditional sense when I look at him I find parts of him beautiful but his face is certainly not well the beauty comes from our understanding of his life of his suffering instead of through the elegance and perfection of his body he's muscular he's powerful but he's defeated yeah there's definitely a sense of peace those this sculpture engages us emotionally the artist has been careful to make sure that we feel sympathy he's inlaid copper into parts of his face where he's defined wounds so that the copper functions almost as a more red color against the bronze and we can see him bleeding boxing in ancient Greece focused mainly on blows to the head to the face and that's why his body looks still so very beautiful and perfect and when I said before I still find him ideally beautiful I was thinking about the incredible muscles in his torso he's still really thin and athletic but the face is such a contrast and also his hands all wrapped in leather the face and the hands ground him in a kind of reality of a moment well that's especially true with his posture you can see that he's not simply seated his torso is collapsed and his head is down he's looking up but you can feel the exhaustion you can also see the way in which his body has been beaten the broken nose the gashes in his face and look at his ear which is swollen and distorted we may really see seated figures in the Classical period in Greek art the figures are standing there noble they exist in the world and that heroic way just by virtue of just being seated there's a humility and humanity to the feet well there's also an informality his right leg is out and up on the heel his left leg is splayed out slightly under the weight of his arm this is a man who would like to lie down so this is a period in Greek art when there really is an interest in pathos in moving beyond the heroic moving beyond there's traditional subjects of the ancient world and really beginning to explore a much wider variety it's fascinating it is this incredibly sophisticated moment