The third fine arts center during the Hellenistic period was on Rhodes. During the Hellenistic era, the island was just an intermediate position between Greece and Asia Minor. At the beginning of the 3rd century BC, it had become an important port and transportation center. The prosperity of art is self-evident. Wealthy employers often recruit many sculptors to make statues for their future luxurious buildings. At the beginning of the 3rd century BC, Calles, a disciple of the great sculptor Lesipus, spent 12 years there making a huge 34-meter-high bronze statue of the sun god. According to Pliny’s account, the island had more than one hundred huge statues during the period of literary prosperity. From this, you can imagine the wealth of Rhodes. It is a pity that these giant statues were destroyed in a major earthquake in 227 BC.
The marble group “Laocoon” was discovered in Rhodes. The group is 184 cm high. According to the textual research of western archaeologists, its production date is about the middle of the first century BC. The author is the sculptor Akisandros of Rhodes and his sons Polydorus and Adeno Doros. If this is the case, it should belong to a Roman sculpture. However, because the sculpture style of Rhode Island is very similar to that of Bergama, they both emphasize war and fierce struggle. The muscles of the characters are very tense, and there is also commonality in content. The reliefs on the altar of Zeus are the same, generally based on myths or real wars. Sculptor historians put this group image in the history of Greek sculpture to study.
Laocoon is a Trojan priest in Greek mythology. The Greek army protected by the gods of Athena and the Trojans fought the Trojan War for 10 years, but the Greeks still could not capture the city of Troy. Finally came up with a wooden horse strategy: made a huge horse out of wood and placed it outside Troy. All the Greek soldiers pretended to retreat and took a boat to hide in the nearby bay. Odyssey led the heroes to hide in the horse belly beforehand. . The Trojans thought that the Greeks had withdrawn to the mainland of Greece, so they opened the city gates. They saw a huge wooden horse left outside the city gate, thinking it was dedicated to Poseidon, the sea god, and wanted to drag it into the city. Laocoon, the old priest of the Temple of Apollo, warned the Trojans not to take this wooden horse into the city, so as not to be counted. This angered Hera and the gods’ will to destroy Troy. Hera sent two giant snakes to entangle the three of Laocoon and his son to death (see Virgil’s “Aeneas”). This is a tragedy of conflict between God and man. As a priest, it was his responsibility to foretell the advent of disasters, but he violated providence and was punished. What is shown on the statue of “Laocoon” is extreme physical pain. However, this kind of physical pain is more than inner excitement, that is, the dramatic performance composed of three snake-ridden images exceeds the revealing of their spiritual activities, and they lack a kind of burst out due to the struggle of the soul. Passion, the work is not deep enough, lacking implicitness, only superficial strength and structural beauty in shape.
From the perspective of the realistic skills of these group portraits, the authors are well versed in the knowledge of human anatomy. They have elaborate designs and beautiful ideas about the movements of people when they express pain, and the scenes of giant snakes. In the 18th century, a German poet and esthetician Lessing said in his book named “Laocoon”: Laocoon’s face is not as painful as people should expect based on the intensity of this pain. So intense. Just like this, in ancient Greece, beauty is the law of ancient artists. In order to avoid showing ugliness in the pain of performance, they often avoid passion, or dilute to a certain degree of beauty. Lessing also believes that the sculptor must show the highest degree of beauty under the established physical pain. The intense physical distortion under the condition of physical pain is incompatible with the highest degree of beauty. So he had to dilute the pain of his body and turn the wailing into a slight sigh. This is not because wailing will show that the soul is not noble, but because wailing will distort the face and make it disgusting. “Laocoon”, translated by Zhu Guangqian, People’s Literature Publishing House, 1979 edition, p. 16) This analysis has some truth.
Since the 18th century, many excellent carvings in Greece have been discovered in large quantities. People can get a more comprehensive perception of Greek carvings and have a deeper understanding of the artistic tendencies of various periods. Only by comparison can they be identified. But when the “Laocoon” statue was discovered in the 16th century, the situation was different. At that time, after nearly 1,000 years of religious and theological rule, people could only find the ancients’ praise of life in art. Even the great Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo praised the incredible art of his art! This is because the development of realist art cannot explain the meaning of art in embodying the inner world of the image. Of course, this explanation does not mean that the artistic value of this statue is reduced.
DID YOU KNOW?
The aesthetic significance of “Laocoon” cannot be denied, because we have seen the extensive knowledge that ancient sculptors have in reflecting the spiritual life of human beings: its pyramid-like stable reconstruction, the processing of the limbs and bodies of characters with rhythmic changes. , The contrast between the rhythm of the snake and the staggered arms……. In order to express the spastic muscles, the sculptor must make careful observations of human movements. Although “Laocoon” does not express more inner language to the audience, it is still a model work that faithfully reproduces nature and is good at processing beauty. This image is now in the collection of the Vatican Gallery in Rome.