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English / USA Language: English / USA

What you see before you is one of the best-known masterpieces of the museum: the Artemision Bronze, believed to represent either Poseidon, the god of the sea, or Zeus, the king of the gods, in the act of throwing something. It dates to around 460 BC, and may have been sculpted by Kalamis. It was found in the sea near Cape Artemision.

When the Romans conquered Greece, they were fascinated by the magnificent artworks they found there, which were systematically plundered and taken to Rome by sea. This was how many marvelous statues, created like this one to honor a god, ended up in the villas of wealthy Romans, who would show them off to their guests when entertaining. The sea was however fraught with danger: storms, winds, rocks, and pirates ready to take possession of the ships and their precious cargos. Many of these perilous journeys ended with shipwrecks, some of which were fortunately found. This masterpiece was discovered by fishermen who brought up the arm in 1926, and two years later a team of deep-sea divers recovered the rest of the statue.

To give you an idea of the fearsome energy of the work, stand in front of it, as if it were about to strike you. The right leg is stretched and pushed upwards from the foot; the left leg is resting firmly on the heel, but the slightly raised big toe indicates it is ready to receive the full weight of the body as soon as its formidable power is unleashed. The left arm is stretched out straight, while the right hand is ready to throw something. The fingers of the right hand are weighing up the object to be thrown, adjusting the thrust. The face is fixed in a severe, inscrutable expression: unfortunately, the eyes, in colored glass paste, are long gone. The hair is neatly styled, gathered into a braid with elegant locks on the forehead. The flowing curls of the beard enhance the noble features of the face and the powerful expression. The muscles of the abdomen and back are impressively strong, but it is above all the facial expression that gives the work its magnificent beauty.



An interesting fact: Zeus or Poseidon? The identity of the god remains unclear, because we do not know what the statue was preparing to throw: a bolt of lightning would indicate Zeus, while a trident would tell us we were looking at Poseidon.

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