On the Nature of… Laocoön (and His Sons)

We love a sacrificial lamb and in this episode, Laocoön (and His Sons) are sacrificed for the sake of a Greek victory over the Trojans. TRASH!

Laocoön warns the Trojans not to trust the horse left after their gates and not to trust that the Greeks have just up and left a 10 year war all of a sudden and Minerva punished him for it. My poor baby.

The history of the sculpture that depicts the family’s tragic end is an incredible piece of art that also has an interesting history.

This impressive 6′ 7″ tall sculpture depicts Laocoön and his two sons, Antiphantes and Thymbraeus, being killed. It was excavated in 1506 in Rome and is currently on display at Museo Pio Clementino. Before the final form we can see now in 2018 was settled on, this sculpture group went through a few changes.

When it was first dug up, it was missing Laocoön’s right arm, a hand of one son, the arm of the other son, sections of the snake, and the right son was detached.

In 1510 Bramante, the Pope’s architect, held a contest of sorts to replace the arm of Laocoön. It was judged by Raphael and Jacob Sansovino was the winner and it remained this way until Agostino Cornacchini along with another arm design that took the previous one’s place but that too was not permanent.

The final change did not come until 1980 when a new arm was discovered and, for the 3rd or 4th time in this sculpture group’s modern life, it was dismantled and reassembled. The arm found took place of the Cornacchini arm and the hands of the children were removed.

For now, this is what the world sees when they visit the sculpture group at The Vatican in the Museo Pio Clementino.

I have a box set from the olden days (like 8 years ago) that contains The Iliad, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid translated by Robert Fagles and that’s what I used in this episode.


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