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Studying for a test? Prepare with these 8 lessons on Greek art.
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SPEAKER 1: We're looking at the famous sculpture called "The Dying Gaul" in the Capitoline Museum in Rome. And this is a sculpture-- a copy of a sculpture that dates from the third century BC, the original. So this is a Roman copy, once again, of an ancient Greek original. SPEAKER 2: But a Greek sculpture that would have actually come originally from Pergamum on the coast of what is now Turkey. SPEAKER 1: Right, in one of the areas that was a Greek colony. SPEAKER 2: And it was to commemorate an important battle over a group that the Greeks would have looked at as barbarians. It's interesting, because in earlier Greek history, if this Gaul was to be represented as defeated, he would have been represented as a barbarian, as somebody who was inherently less than the Greeks. And although I think you could still make the argument that that's the case-- if you look at his hair, it's sort of roughly handled. His face-- his brow is large. His nose is not as idealized as the Greeks might have represented themselves. Nevertheless, we see his pain. SPEAKER 1: We do. In images of death from the Classical Period and the Archaic Period we get sometimes that archaic smile, or a sense of-- I don't want to say peacefulness, but a lack-- SPEAKER 2: A kind of nobility. SPEAKER 1: Of expression, something that transcends that moment of death, and something that is eternal and represents, perhaps, the heroic. SPEAKER 2: OK. So that's interesting. But that would be the Greeks representing themselves, right? But here because, perhaps, we're seeing a kind of a lesser being, not a Greek-- somebody outside of the Greek culture, There's a willingness to represent, in a sense, that pain, that suffering, and that weakness. But also there's a kind of nobility here. SPEAKER 1: That interest in emotion was very typical of the Hellenistic Period. SPEAKER 2: So this is a late period, yeah? SPEAKER 1: Moving away from that Classical Period of the fifth century, the '400s, of that interest in ideal figures, figures that transcend the every day to an interest in figures that are older, figures that display emotion, figures that are fully human in a way. SPEAKER 2: Yeah, that's right. And this is an extraordinarily human rendering of somebody who's losing his power. SPEAKER 1: Yeah. He's fallen. He's been wounded. You see the-- SPEAKER 2: The broken sword. SPEAKER 1: Right. The wound in his ribcage. SPEAKER 2: And the horns that have been dropped. Perhaps he was a herald as well. Or this is a heralding. SPEAKER 1: And he's falling. He's about to lose his strength. We've got a real moment of time here. SPEAKER 2: A transitional moment. SPEAKER 1: Feel him falling to the ground-- SPEAKER 2: But even as we feel that, we feel the original power of that body, the strength of those arms. But that's failing. And it is a really tragic moment. SPEAKER 1: It is. It's that beautiful athletic body that is now defeated by imminent death. That's what makes this so poignant. SPEAKER 2: There is this real empathy that exists there. And that's right. It really is characteristic of that late Greek, that Hellenistic moment.