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"Lysippus as we have said was a most prolific artist and made more statues than any other sculptor, among them the Man using a Body-scraper which Marcus Agrippa gave to be set up in front of his Warm Baths and of which the emperor Tiberius was remarkably fond. Tiberius, although at the beginning of his principate he kept some control of himself, in this case could not resist the temptation, and had the statue removed to his bedchamber, putting another one in its place at the baths; but the public were so obstinately opposed to this that they raised an outcry at the theatre, shouting 'Give us back the Apoxyomenos'--and the Emperor, although he had fallen quite in love with the statue, had to restore it."

Pliny, Natural History (XXXIV.61-62)

With the completion of a new aqueduct in 19 BC to supply water, the Thermae Agrippae were the first public baths in Rome and a fitting location for the Apoxyomenos.

Aside from inscriptions, there are virtually no contemporary references to classical Greek art. Pliny, who provides the most comprehensive account, writes about sculptors and painters five-hundred years earlier and, even then, more as an aside to his general discussion of natural history than about the artists themselves. And yet, in his consideration of Greek art, he does preserve in Book XXXIV a source who regards the development of sculpture (and painting) as an evolutionary progression, advanced by the technical achievement of individual artists. And so, Pheidias is said to have been the first to have "revealed" sculpture and Polyclitus to have "perfected" it. Myron "enlarged the scope of realism" but is surpassed by Pythagoras in the rendering of naturalistic detail. A final stage of perfection is reached with Lysippus, who improved on all his predecessors. He

"is said to have contributed greatly to the art of bronze statuary by representing the details of the hair and by making his heads smaller than the old sculptors used to do, and his bodies more slender and firm, to give his statues the appearance of greater height. He scrupulously preserved the quality of 'symmetry' (for which there is no word in Latin) by the new and hitherto untried method of modifying the squareness of the figure of the old sculptors, and he used commonly to say that whereas his predecessors had made men as they really were, he made them as they appeared to be."

And, indeed, the head of the Apoxyomenos (c.330 BC) is smaller and the body more slender than the Doryphoros of Polyclitus (fl. 450-420 BC), which makes the statue seem taller and more delicate. Too, unlike the Discobolus (c.450 BC) by Myron, which is intended to be seen only from the front, the outstretched arm of the Apoxyomenos extends the space occupied by the statue and obliges the viewer to regard it from other perspectives.

The design of temples, says Vitruvius, depends on symmetry, the principles of which are due to proportion.

"Proportion is a correspondence among the measures of the members of an entire work, and of the whole to a certain part selected as standard. From this result the principles of symmetry. Without symmetry and proportion there can be no principles in the design of any temple; this is, if there is no precise relation between its members, as in the case of those of a well shaped man. For the human body is so designed by nature that the face, from the chin to the top of the forehead and the lowest roots of the hair, is a tenth part of the whole height; the open hand from the wrist to the tip of the middle finger is just the same; the head from the chin to the crown is an eighth, and with the neck and shoulder from the top of the breast to the lowest roots of the hair is a sixth; from the middle of the breast to the summit of the crown is a fourth. If we take the height of the face itself, the distance from the bottom of the chin to the under side of the nostrils is one third of it; the nose from the under side of the nostrils to a line between the eyebrows is the same; from there to the lowest roots of the hair is also a third, comprising the forehead. The length of the foot is one sixth of the height of the body; of the forearm, one fourth; and the breadth of the breast is also one fourth. The other members, too, have their own symmetrical proportions, and it was by employing them that the famous painters and sculptors of antiquity attained to great and endless renown."

The Ten Books of Architecture

References: The Art of Ancient Greece: Sources and Documents (1990) by J. J. Pollitt; Pliny: Natural History (1938) translated by H. Rackham; Vitruvius: The Ten Books of Architecture (1914) translated by Morris Hicky Morgan.

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