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03 April 2011

The Legend of Laocoön – Vatican Museum in Rome, Italy


Do you know of the legend of Laocoön?  Laocoön was the Trojan priest of Apollo who warned of the Greeks' insidious plot to invade Troy through an ultimate plan of treachery and deception – a "gift" from the gods or as we know now – the fateful Trojan Horse. A fascinating tale told in the "Iliad" of Laocoön's plight to warn to Prium that the Trojan horse was a fraud and trap, and that it should be burned.  Sentenced to death by Athena, Apollo, or Poseidon, [the actual reason and responsible party varies according to legend], Laocoön and his twin sons, Antiphantes and Thymbraeus, were killed by these two coiling serpents that choked the life out of them.


The Laocoön statue, now in the Vatican Museums, was unearthed in 1506 near the site of the Somus Aurea of the Emperor Nero in Rome, and dates back to 40-20 B.C. Who commissioned and sculpted this extraordinary marble sculpture remains a mystery today, but we do know that it influenced the course of the Italian Renaissance and sculptors alike, including Michelangelo who was summoned to the site after its removal! Thankfully, Pope Julius II, after hearing of its discovery, brought it to the Vatican and placed it in the Belvedere Garden.

Next time you're in Rome, make sure you stop by the Vatican Museum to see Laocoön and His Sons and behold its magnificence yourself!  Discover more of the Vatican and Michelangelo.  

8 comments:

  1. I saw that when I was in Vatican too, those stories and art are always impressive.

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  2. I think this one sculpture impressed me the most once I found out its age and its influence on the course of Renaissance and Classical sculpture. Fascinating discovery...the lifelike detail rendered in the marble are extraordinary!

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!!

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  3. As a school girl in Australia I vividly remember learning about this exact statue in Art history. Now it is coming to life, ciao lisa

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  4. Hi Lisa,
    Thanks so much for stopping by. I am still amazed at this sculpture and the fact that it predates most familiar classical sculptures by 1500 years. Stunning detail with astounding realistic features achieved so long ago! Ciao!!

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  5. Interesting history! The statue is beautiful. Hope to see it in person one day :)

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  6. Thanks so much my Downtown Traveler!! It is amazing to say the least not only for its sculptural magnificence but for its role in the Classic revival!!

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  7. Hey Jeff - wonderful photo of this gorgeous sculpture. I wish I'd had you along with me when I toured the Vatican last year :) You are right - it is incredible that the artist was able to capture the human form so realistically, so perfectly all those many years ago and, as you say, before the classical artists such as Michaelangelo, Rodin & Da Vinci were even born! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and this great photo with us!

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    1. Hi there Deb and and thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind compliments too! I think we should both go back together to see this and all of the other pieces in this magnificent collection.

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Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!