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The Discus Thrower Essay Writer

The Discobolus of Myron ("discus thrower", Greek: Δισκοβόλος, Diskobólos) is a Greek sculpture that was completed toward the end of the Severe period, circa 460–450 BC. The original Greek bronze is lost but the work is known through numerous Roman copies, both full-scale ones in marble, which was cheaper than bronze,[1] such as the first to be recovered, the Palombara Discobolus, and smaller scaled versions in bronze.

A discus thrower is depicted about to release his throw: "by sheer intelligence", Kenneth Clark observed in The Nude, "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."[2] The moment thus captured in the statue is an example of rhythmos, harmony and balance. Myron is often credited with being the first sculptor to master this style. Naturally, as always in Greek athletics, the Discobolus is completely nude. His pose is said to be unnatural to a human, and today considered a rather inefficient way to throw the discus.[3] Also there is very little emotion shown in the discus thrower's face, and "to a modern eye, it may seem that Myron's desire for perfection has made him suppress too rigorously the sense of strain in the individual muscles,"[2] Clark observes. The other trademark of Myron embodied in this sculpture is how well the body is proportioned, the symmetria.

The potential energy expressed in this sculpture's tightly wound pose, expressing the moment of stasis just before the release, is an example of the advancement of Classical sculpture from Archaic. The torso shows no muscular strain, however, even though the limbs are outflung.

Reputation in the past[edit]

Myron's Discobolus was long known from descriptions, such as the dialogue in Lucian of Samosata's work Philopseudes:

"When you came into the hall," he said, "didn't you notice a totally gorgeous statue up there, by Demetrios the portraitist?" "Surely you don't mean the discus-thrower," said I, "the one bent over into the throwing-position, with his head turned back to the hand that holds the discus, and the opposite knee slightly flexed, like one who will spring up again after the throw?"

"Not that one," he said, "that's one of Myron's works, that Diskobolos you speak of..."

— Lucian of Samosata, Philopseudes c. 18[4]

Discobolus and Discophorus[edit]

Prior to this statue's discovery the term Discobolus had been applied in the 17th and 18th centuries to a standing figure holding a discus, a Discophoros, which Ennio Quirino Visconti identified as the Discobolus of Naukydes of Argos, mentioned by Pliny (Haskell and Penny 1981:200).

Discobolus Palombara or Lancellotti[edit]

The Discobolus Palombara, the first copy of this famous sculpture to have been discovered, was found in 1781. It is a 1st-century AD copy of Myron's original bronze. Following its discovery at a Roman property of the Massimo family, the Villa Palombara on the Esquiline Hill, it was initially restored by Giuseppe Angelini; the Massimi installed it initially in their Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne and then at Palazzo Lancellotti. The Italian archaeologist Giovanni Battista Visconti identified the sculpture as a copy from the original of Myron. It was instantly famous, though the Massimo jealously guarded access to it (Haskell and Penny 1981:200).

In 1937 Adolf Hitler negotiated to buy it, and eventually succeeded in 1938, when Galeazzo Ciano, Minister of Foreign Affairs, sold it to him for five million lire, over the protests of Giuseppe Bottai, Minister of Education, and the scholarly community. It was shipped by rail to Munich and displayed in the Glyptothek; it was returned in 1948. It is now in the National Museum of Rome, displayed at the Palazzo Massimo.

Townley Discobolus[edit]

After the discovery of the Discobolus Palombara a second notable Discobolus was excavated, at Hadrian's Villa in 1790, and was purchased by the English antiquary and art dealer established in Rome, Thomas Jenkins, at public auction in 1792. (Another example, also found at Tivoli at this date, was acquired by the Vatican Museums.) The English connoisseur Charles Townley paid Jenkins £400 for the statue, which arrived at the semi-public gallery Townley commissioned in Park Street, London, in 1794. The head was wrongly restored, as Richard Payne Knight soon pointed out, but Townley was convinced his was the original and better copy.

It was bought for the British Museum, with the rest of Townley's marbles, in July 1805.[5]

Other copies[edit]

Other Roman copies in marble have been recovered, and torsos that were already known in the 17th century but that had been wrongly restored and completed, have since been identified as further repetitions after Myron's model. For one such example, in the early 18th century Pierre-Étienne Monnot restored a torso that is now recognized as an example of Myron's Discobolus as a Wounded Gladiator who supports himself on his arm as he sinks to the ground; the completed sculpture was donated before 1734 by Pope Clement XII to the Capitoline Museums, where it remains.[6]

Yet another copy was discovered in 1906 in the ruins of a Roman villa at Tor Paterno in the former royal estate of Castel Porziano, now also conserved in the Museo Nazionale Romano.[7]

In the 19th century plaster copies of the Discobolos could be found in many large academic collections, now mostly dispersed.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Discobolus.
Roman bronze reduction of Myron's Discobolus, 2nd century AD (Glyptothek, Munich)
The discobolus motif on an Attic red-figured cup, ca. 490 BC, is static by comparison.
The Townley Discobolus at the British Museum, Roman copy with incorrectly restored head.
A Discobolus in the National Roman Museum in Palazzo Massimo alle Terme.
  1. ^Woodford, Susan. (1982) The Art of Greece and Rome. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 16. ISBN 0521298733
  2. ^ abClark, Kenneth. (2010) The Nude: A study in ideal form. New edition. London: The Folio Society, pp. 134–135.
  3. ^An explanation for his inefficient discus throwing could be that the ancient Olympic sportsmen had a set rotation of three quarters before the discus was thrown. This rotation could well have been a deliberate handicap to make the sport more difficult.
  4. ^The Lucian reference and Quintillian, ii.13.xviii-x, are noted by Haskell & Penny 1981, p. 200.
  5. ^Tony Kitto, "The celebrated connoisseur: Charles Townley, 1737-1805" Minerva Magazine May/June 2005, in connection with a British Museum exhibition celebrating the bicentennial of the Townley purchase. [1][permanent dead link]
  6. ^Haskell, Francis & Penny, Nicholas (1981), Taste and the Antique: the Lure of Classical Sculpture 1500-1900, New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 200 & 227., ISBN 0-300-02641-2 
  7. ^Kenneth Clark illustrated it in the 1956 edition of The Nude, fig. 130, p.241, as "after Myron".

Discus throw, sport in athletics (track and field) in which a disk-shaped object, known as a discus, is thrown for distance. In modern competition the discus must be thrown from a circle 2.5 metres (8.2 feet) in diameter and fall within a 40° sector marked on the ground from the centre of the circle.

The sport was known in the days of the Greek poet Homer, who mentions it in both the Iliad and the Odyssey, and it was one of five events included in the pentathlon in the ancient Olympic Games. Throwing the discus was introduced as an event in modern athletics when the Olympic Games were revived at Athens in 1896.

Early modern athletes threw the discus from an inclined pedestal, using an exaggerated style derived from ancient representations of the sport. Throwing from a 2.13-metre (7-foot) circle on the ground superseded this, and the circle was enlarged to its present size in 1912.

The modern throwing style is a graceful whirling movement, with the athlete making about one and a half quick turns while accelerating across the circle. Thus, the discus is slung out and not really thrown at all; the difficulty lies in controlling the discus, which is held under and against the hand and wrist chiefly by centrifugal force.

The modern discus used in men’s competition is circular, about 219 mm (8.6 inches) in diameter and 44 mm (1.75 inches) thick at its centre. It is made of wood or similar material, with a smooth metal rim and small, circular brass plates set flush into its sides. Its weight must be not less than 2 kg (4.4 pounds).

A discus event was included when women’s track and field was added to the Olympic program in 1928. A slightly smaller discus weighing 1 kg (2 pounds 3.2 ounces) and 180 mm (7.1 inches) is used in women’s events.

Notable discus throwers include American Al Oerter, who first broke the 200-foot mark; American Mac Wilkins, who was first to break officially the 70-metre (230-foot) mark; German Jürgen Schult, who broke the world’s record for discus throw in 1986 with a 74.08-metre (243.04-foot) throw; German Lisel Westermann, the first woman to break the 200-foot mark; and Russian Faina Melnik, who broke the 70-metre mark in women’s competition.

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