Artist: Antonio Frilli (Italian, active 1876-after 1920)
Title: Discobolus (After Myron [Greek, active ca. 450 BCE] 19th century, Marble, 74 5/16 x 25 x 40 in., Irene Leache Memorial Collection, IL1002)


Looking Questions

What is the figure holding?

What is he doing?  What clues suggest this?

What material is the statue carved in?  Is it hard or soft?  Smooth or rough?  Weak or strong?

About the Art

The original Greek Discus-Thrower statue was made in bronze and only known to have existed because of later copies made by Romans.  Created by the sculptor Myron in the 5th century BCE, the original captured the moment in which an athlete was about to release a heavy disc, or discus, in an attempt to throw the farthest.  The twisted torso is filled with potential energy, a departure from the stable and static forms of the past (see Archaic Greek sculpture).  The sculpture found at the Chrysler Museum is a copy of Myron’s, carved by the Italian artist Antonio Frilli over 1,000 years later.  During the 19th century, many artists, including architects, decorative artists, and writers were looking to ancient Greece and Rome to both inspire and inform their own work.  This period of interest in classical ideals was a movement known as neoclassicism. 

Ancient Pentathlon

Much of what is known about the Olympic and other Pan-Hellenic Games is derived from scenes found on pottery and other works of art created to commemorate the events and athletes.  The first documented pentathlon was held in the beginning of the 8th century, BCE.  The athletic events were held in honor of the gods, and were also consider a useful means of military training.  Taken from the combination of two Greek words, pente meaning five (5) and athlon, or competition, the pentathlon consisted of five events held during the ancient Olympic games.  Much like the current track and field events, the five contests were the long jump, discus throw, javelin, wrestling, and a race.  However, it is believe that the discus event is not similar to those held today, which allow the thrower the opportunity to turn.  In ancient times, the thrower was unable to use this momentum. 

Discussion Questions

Try standing like the discus thrower.  Now imagine what the next motion would be in order to release the disc. 

What pentathlon event do you think you would be good at doing?  Why?