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HOME : Classical Antiquities : Classical Masterpieces : Roman Bronze Sculpture of an Athlete
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Roman Bronze Sculpture of an Athlete - X.0200
Origin: Mediterranean
Circa: 1st th Century AD to 3rd th Century AD
Dimensions: 5.625" (14.3cm) high
Collection: Classical
Style: Roman
Medium: Bronze

Location: UAE
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This gorgeous bronze sculpture depicts a nude male standing in a classic contraposto stance with his weight resting upon his right leg while his left leg is slightly bent at the knee. His long, wavy hair has been tied back in a central bun and a laurel wreath, the mark of a champion, crowns his head. He wears a pair of calceui sandals that rise above his ankle. The front of the sandals features crossed straps that ensured a tight fit. The back of the shoes have been embellished with a series of small incised dot that presumably indicate some sort of protective covering such as leather, although his toes remain open. In his hands, he holds two objects. In his right, he carries a round object that could either be interpreted as a discus or a patera, a small dish used to offer libations to the gods. In his left hand, he holds a mysterious object that could be anything from a money sack filled with coins to a bundle of flowers or some sort of organic matter. The discus features a small lip and has been decorated with an engraved floral motif. Most likely, this bronze sculpture represents a victorious athlete who has just completed a decathlon. During the Classical era, athletes competed in the nude and his footwear suggests a somewhat more active lifestyle than other more common calceus sandals. He holds the discus in order to reinforce his identity as an athlete, or perhaps to indicate that he specifically excelled in the discus throwing competition. Bronze discuses survive in museums today that were of such refined modeling and exquisite decoration that scholars hypothesize that they were not used in competition but were given as prizes to victorious athletes. The floral motif on the discus this athlete holds may be such a prize, in which case the object in his other hand may be a money sack containing a financial reward as well. We know from the laurel wreath that crowns his head that this young man was a champion of some kind. His other attributes lead us to believe that he was a discus champion. The famed sculpture of the discobolus by the 5th Century B.C. Greek sculptor Myron depicts a discus thrower as he spins around, a the moment he is just about to let the discus soar through the air. Here, we are in the presence of a similar athlete after he has released the discus and won a prize for his victorious effort. - (X.0200)


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