Often known as “The Discus Thrower”, the Discobolus of Myron is a classic, widely recognizable Greek sculpture.
Created between 460-450 BC, the original sculpture has been lost to time. However, a variety of Roman copies in both bronze and marble have allowed generations to witness the beauty of the piece.
A Long, Legendary History
The Discobolus of Myron is attributed to Myron of Eleutherae, an Athenian sculptor from the mid 5th century BC.
The first-ever copy of the sculpture was discovered around 1781. Dating back to the 1st century AD, the copy was discovered at a Roman property in the Villa Palombara on the Esquiline Hill. It was restored by Giuseppe Angelini and then installed at the Massimo family’s Palazzo Massimo all Colonne.
Italian archaeologist Giovanni Battista Visconti identified the sculpture as a copy from the original, making it instantly famous.
In 1938, Adolf Hitler negotiated to purchase the statue. Galeazzo Ciano sold it to him for five million lire, much to the disappointment of Italy’s community of scholars. However, it was returned to Italy in 1948, and can now be found in the National Museum of Rome, displayed at the Palazzo Massimo.
An Homage To Athleticism
According to art historian Kenneth Clark, “Myron has created the enduring pattern of athletic energy. He has taken a moment of action so transitory that students of athletics still debate if it is feasible, and he has given it the completeness of a cameo.”
This moment is captured in an example of “rhythmos”, a greek term for harmony and balance.
Because of the fluidity of this and several other of his works, Myron is credited with being one of the first – if not the first – sculptors to master this particular style.
A Classical Sculpture
“Discobolus” is an example of Classical Archaic sculpture. The Archaic period, which is thought to have run from the 8th to the early 5th century BC, moved into classical sculpture through advancements like the ones seen in Discobolus.
Though the bodies of these sculptures were idealized, there was still a level of naturalism that was adhered to throughout classical pieces. This is certainly the case with “Discobolus”, as the subject twists his torso to ramp up for the discus throw.
Myron Of Eleutherae
Born in Eleutherae, Myron produced most of his work in bronze. Most of his fame was attributed to his presentations of athletes, including the famous “Discobolus” sculpture.
He’s known for having revolutionized the representation of these athletes, introducing bold poses and potential energy too much of his work.
Besides “Discobolus”, some of Myron’s most famous work includes a statue of Minerva or Athena, a statue of Hercules, and a statue of Apollo for the city of Ephesus.
A Statue Of Grace And Energy
A gorgeous representation of classical work, Myron’s “Discobolus” features many of the innovations that would transform Hellenistic sculptures. If you have the chance to see the copy of “Discobolus” at the National Museum of Rome, you should definitely take some time to see the sculpture in person!