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The Laocoon Group

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The Laocoon Group from page 96 in our text (Fig. 3.30). This statue depicts a scene from Virgil's Aeneid. The scene takes place shortly after attempting to warn the Trojan's not to bring the horse into the city, Laocoon goes to the altar of Poseidon with his sons to make a sacrifice when all three are attacked and killed by two sea serpents sent by the gods. This was because of the warning and it is even mentioned that is specifically for throwing his spear at the horse and piercing it.

One reason I chose this piece is because of the intricacy of this beautiful work. The expressions on the faces of not only on Laocoon and his sons but also the serpents truly bring to life the words of Virgil in the Aeneid. The anguish on the faces of Laocoon and his sons depict the defeat of the Trojans at the hands of the Greeks. The expression on the faces of the serpents depicts the Greek warriors' ability to overcome their enemies and bring them to swift justice.

Another reason I chose the Laocoon Group is because I also believe it can be viewed to represent not only the struggle of Troy but the struggles up to this point in time outside of as well as within Greece. I believe the main purpose of this statue and many like it is to inspire the Greek people and remind them that they have had many victories and the gods will always be there to protect them. During the time that this statue is believed to have been created, with the fall of the Greeks to the Roman Empire and becoming a series of city-states, the mood in Greece was probably a bit somber and in need of some inspiration.

I believe that this statue also shows the importance of the gods to the Greek people. In this statue we have a punishment from the gods for an attempt to prevent the victory of the Greeks. At the same time it is a reward to the Greeks from the gods which helped them achieve victory. It shows that the Greek people had a strong belief that they were right and that the gods would see to their victory because of this. In this statue and other statues around the same time we have a theme of a god or a messenger of one of the gods smiting the enemies of Greece or influencing a battle in favor of the Greeks. Take the frieze from the altar of Zeus for instance, depicts Athena killing the giant Alcyoneus (page 95 figure 3.29 from our text). This is a representation of Attalus I's victories

over the Gauls. Even earlier in Greek art we have the statue of Apollo intervening in a fight between Lapiths and Centaurs (which came to represent the Persians). All of these scenes show that through all of the struggles that the Greek people endured they always stayed faithful and believed that the gods would be there to protect them. The Aeneid was not the only written work where the gods play a part in influencing the outcome. In Homer's Iliad and Odyssey are filled with references to the god's interaction and influence on the events of the story. There aren't too many pieces of Greek art, written or visual, that don't have some reference to the gods.

In Egyptian art we have a theme that is quite different. I feel that the art of ancient Egypt was meant to portray the power of the rulers as opposed to inspire its people. The ancient Egyptian art depicts their rulers as being gods which was the belief at that time. It is also mentioned in the book that these statues may not be depictions of people but of the divine power that they represent. The expression on the faces of most statues such as that of Chefren on page 15 (Fig. 1.13) shows a quality of serenity and confidence that would be characteristic of divine power. At the back of Chefren's neck we have the god Horace which is either showing how he is protected by the god or is somehow related to the god. The message could be that through the Chefren the people of Egypt are protected by the gods or telling them they should follow him



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