Moonday’s Heroic Hunk in History: Laocoön

Sophia Schliemann

In the story of the Trojan War, Prince Paris of  Troy abducted Helen, the wife of the Greek King Menelaus, and returned with her to Troy.  The Greeks attacked Troy which fell after 10 years.  The ancient Greeks believed that the Trojan War was an historical event that had taken place in the 13th or 12th century BC but by modern times Troy was considered a myth.  In the 19th century, however, after extensive research German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann excavated several layers of the ancient city of Troy.  He discovered some rich finds and photographed his much-younger wife, Sophia, in the “Treasure of Priam.”

The famous Greek marble Laocoön and his Sons (also called the Laocoön group), depicts the death of Laocoön, the Trojan priest of the god Poseidon and his two sons.  Pliny the Elder (a first century AD writer and philosopher) attributed the work to the sculptors Agesander, Athnodoros, and Polydorus of Rhodes (a small Greek island in the eastern Aegean Sea) which is housed in the Vatican Museums in Rome.

In Greek stories relating the conquest of Troy, Laocoön warned the Trojans about bringing the Trojan horse into Troy, recommending that they burn it instead.  His advice was the source of the well-known saying, “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.”  He was ignored and the Trojan Horse was brought into Troy.  Later, the Greeks concealed within the Trojan Horse exited by a trapdoor, opened the gates to the Greek army, defeated the Trojans and destroyed the city.

Laocoön and His Sons

Laocoön, however, had already been punished by Poseidon for having a family or by one of the other gods who was offended by Laocoön’s advice on the Trojan Horse to the Trojans.  Regardless, the three figures are contorted in pain horrified by what is happening to them. While they remain alive, they are as good as dead—and know it. Several pieces of the sculpture are missing and various pics and reconstructions over the centuries have proposed what the entire sculpture would look like.

Next week, more Laocoön. RitaBay


6 Responses

  1. An interesting and tumultuous time in history, Rita. So glad it was recovered, as it would have been a shame to lose so much beautiful art, history shaping war maneuvers, records of philosophers and leaders.

    Thanks for your wisdom. I appreciate your sharing.

  2. I’ve always loved the story of the Trojan Horse. 🙂 One of those lessons in life. Thanks for sharing this. I always learn so much here.

    • Today the Trojan Horse and “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.” might not be considered PC. Always throught the Trojans rather gullible and Paris rather selfish but the Greeks loved tragedy. Rita Bay

  3. I loved this Rita, you teach me so much about history, Your a teacher among teachers and a awesome lady.. KEEP ON…

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