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Current time:0:00Total duration:3:43

Video transcript

[Music] we're standing in an alcove of a lovely courtyard in the Vatican and we're looking at a black one this man lack one was a Trojan priest and he knew that the gift that had arrived outside of the gates of the city of Troy from the Greeks their enemies was in fact a trick and he tried to warn the city gift was a wooden horse filled with Greek soldiers a goddess who was a protector of the Greeks didn't like this and to punish him send serpents to strangle him and his sons so it's interesting when this sculpture was unearthed in the 16th century it was immediately hailed because we thought it linked up with literature that we had from the ancient world from ancient Rome from plenty funny the ancient Roman historian wrote that he had seen a sculpture of this subject in the Emperor's Palace into the 18th century an important to early connoisseur art historian a man named Benkelman was absolutely convinced that this dated from the 4th century BCE from the Classical period well that's right it lived up to every desire that antiquarians had for a sculpture that could really be located so then the problems emerge one problem is that the sculptors that plenty names can be traced to the first century not to an earlier period Pliny also says that this was carved out of a single block of marble which it isn't and then to further complicate things we just need to look at the sculpture this is a sculpture that is full of dynamism these bodies arriving there's agony those serpents are muscular there's a power here and all of that energy we associate not with the Classical period in ancient Greece but instead with the Hellenistic that is with the third or the second century in fact this is very in style two figures that we see on the altar of Pergamum in the way that the figures move into our space and interact with us even the sense of agony the sense of tragedy that is so dramatic all of the theatricality here all the emphasis on the diagonal on the serpentine all of these things we see and the great altar of Zeus at Pergamon and really it fixes this style in the Hellenistic the word you used the serpentine and I think that that's a great word to think about the sculpture and the figures of the Renaissance that weren't inspired by it the figure twists in space his the legs move to his left his torso moves to his right his head moves back toward the left it's a figure that twists on itself and is so expressive in the body that you can see how it would be so important for Michelangelo as with so many ancient sculptures especially complicated ones like this it was found in fragments and although it is organized and the limbs are in the position we think they belong we could be wrong especially concerning lack one's right arm this has been reconstructed in a number of different ways but the way that we have it now these are moving back behind him is the one that our historians agree on now but one of the things that people have noticed about this sculpture is the terrible pain agony expressed by the figures but the simultaneous sense beauty that we contemplate in the figures body so that tension is a result of the fact that we're enjoying the beauty of the sculpture even as the sculpture is depicting great pain great tragedy real agony [Music]