Monday, June 25, 2012

The Charioteer of Delphi

The Charioteer of Delphi is probably the most famous statue from Delphi, being found in countless history books. Plain and austere, it mirrors the athlete's morals. The statue, located in the Museum of Delphi, is preserved thanks to a natural catastrophe, as it was buried in the debris of the great earthquake of 373 B.C., hence it was thankfully not looted and destroyed. No other large scale bronze complexes of the sanctuary of Delphi, described in literary and epigraphic sources, have survived. 

The discovery of the Charioteer in 1896, during the Grand Excavation, caused enthusiasm, since no other bronze statue of the classical period and of natural size had been recovered. After many years the Riace warriors and Poseidon from Artemision cape, bronze statues contemporary with and of equal artistic value as the Charioteer, where found at the bottom of the sea. Despite the fact that the master sculptors of classical Greece worked mostly with bronze, we know of their creations through marble copies produced during the Roman period. 

This statue must be the creation of some Greek bronze-sculptor who worked in Magna Graecia, probably by Pythagoras from Samos, exiled in Reggio Calabriae during the leadership of the Deinomenids. According to written sources, Pythagoras sought symmetry and precise rendering of details. Undoubtedly the Charioteer is a masterpiece of the Severe Style that marked the transition from the archaic to the classical period (480-460 B.C.). 

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