Harmodius and Aristogeiton (sculpture)

Harmodius and Aristogeiton (sculpture)

A sculptural group of the tyrannicides Harmodius and Aristogeiton is well-known in the ancient world from two major versions and Roman copies.

First version

This was commissioned from the sculptor Antenor after the establishment of Athenian democracy and erected in the Agora and was stolen by the Persians when they occupied Athens in 480 (see Persian Wars). It was returned to Athens by Alexander the Great (according to the historian Arrian) or by Seleucus I (according to the Roman writer Valerius Maximus), but is now lost.

econd version

To replace the stolen first version, the Athenians commissioned Kritios and Nesiotes to produce a new statue, which was set up in about 477 BC. This too is now lost.

Roman copies

The second version was extensively copied in Hellenistic and Roman times, and the best surviving of those copies may be seen in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples. In the Neo-Attic style, it shows idealised portraits of the two heroes: a clean-shaven Harmodius, thrusting a sword forward in his upraised left hand, another sword in his right hand; and Aristogeiton, also brandishing two swords, a "chlamys", or cape, draped over his left shoulder. Of the four swords only the hilts are left, and the original head of Aristogeiton having been lost, another has been set in its place and is only a poor fit - a better replacement head can be reconstructed from Roman plaster casts (found at Baiae [http://www.beazley.ox.ac.uk/CGPrograms/Cast/ASP/Cast.asp?CastNo=B216] ) of the head of the second version or of another copy of the second version, used in the 'mass-production' of such copies.


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