If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:4:16

Video transcript

in ancient Greece people did not use soap and water to wash they used oil and we're seeing a sculpture called the scraper or the epoxy minos by lysippos which shows just that this is an athlete whose body is now covered with perspiration and dust and what he's doing is he's washing himself first by covering his body with oil and then using Astral to scrape all of the grime off with the oil lysippos was one of the most famous sculptors from the fourth century BCE but of course we're not looking at the actual work by lysippos of the epoxy leanness we're looking at an ancient Roman copy in marble of what was a Greek bronze original but even though it's a copy it can give us a tremendous amount of information lysippos is known for having changed the proportional Canon that we associate with a high classical tradition in Greece this is the fourth century and what lysippos has done is to elongate the body and to reduce the size of the head and it's very obvious when you compare this with a 5th century sculpture from the Classical period by poly clay as soon as the sculptor who established that cannon in the Duras if you look at poly cloud as a sculpture and you measure the size of the head that length of the body is seven heads tall but lysippos has added a full heads worth of land so if you were to measure this as his eighth head lengths tall and because the head is smaller and the body is taller it gives us a sense as we look up at the sculpture on a podium that the figure is even taller than he is and I suppose has done some other new things he's reached the figures arm into space where the figure is scraping the oil from his body and by doing that he breaks out of the frontal orientation of class sculpture and makes us want to move around the figure so we can see it from different directions well that's right there is perhaps a fairly ideal position to view the sculpture from his front left but nevertheless I can't see his chest and so I do want to move around now this was a bronze originally so that tree trunk was not there in the original sculpture it wasn't necessary bronze has enough tensile strength so you don't need that and you can see that there's actually a fragment of a couple of bridges that were meant to first support the marble arms which have broken and then been repaired but nevertheless even in the original bronze I would have wanted to walk around this no question but even though I said this is introducing these very new innovations again this change of the proportion of the body is breaking with the frontal plane of the sculpture he's still very much embedded in the great Greek tradition of representing the nude athlete this idealized human body and of course lysippos is figure stands in contour pasta which was invented by the Greeks in the Classical period it's such a gorgeous example of contrapposto and of the body as a whole look at the musculature we really feel the power of this athlete even though it's presumably now after his exercises now from sources we hear that lysippos was associated with Alexander the Great the great military leader that conquered Greece and spread Greek ideas throughout the Mediterranean and he's said to have sculpted Alexander too bad none of those sculptures survived we're seeing the sculpture in the Vatican because antiquities were treasured by Renaissance popes and subsequently but of course we're looking at a sculpture that is pagan and Pagan in its celebration of human achievement and you as opposed to the spiritual but it is striking to see this sculpture in such a religious institution and so many ancient Greek and Roman sculptures all around us here in the Vatican Museum one last detail which is the room in which the sculpture is displayed apparently was a room that Leonardo da Vinci occupied briefly Leonardo of course this stepping-stone back to this reverence for the body even within the Catholic tradition