Laocoon and his sons and the aesthetics of pain

Michael Lahanas

Το σύμπλεγμα του Λαοκόωντα και η αισθητική του άλγους

Hellenistische Kunst. Der Laokoon

Do you believe the enemy have sailed away? Or think that any Grecian gifts are free of craft? Is this the way Ulysses acts? Either Achaeans hide, shut in this wood, or else this is an engine built against our walls... I fear the Greeks, even when they bring gifts, Laocoon from Virgil The Aeneid

Part 2 - Laocoon Versions

Parody of Laocoon by Titian

Laocoon, Capitoline Museum

Laocoon according to Hand Brosamer 1538. I have no idea why Laocoon is so afraid and hysteric with these small serpents.

And another sculpture where the snake is more afraid than Laocoon according to Francesco di Giorgio Martini (1439-1502) (Another image)

Bernardino Genga (1620-1690) : Anatomia per uso et intelligenza del disegno ricercata non solo su gl'ossi, e muscoli del corpo humano, Rome: Domenico de Rossi, herede di Gio. Jacomo de Rossi, 1691.

Laocoon, William Blake 1822, with text handwritten, for example:

You Must leave Fathers & Mothers & Houses & Lands if they stand in the way of Art. Prayer is the Study of Art. Praise is the Practice of Art. Fasting &c., all relate to Art. The outward ceremony is Antichrist…The Eternal Body of Man is The Imagination that is god himself. .... his two Sons Satan & Adam as they were copied from the Cherubim of Solomons Temple by three Rhodians & applied to Natural Fact or History of Illium Art Degraded Imagination Denied War Governed the Nations.. Jesus & his Apostles & Disciples were all Artists Their Works were destroyed by the Seven Angels of the Seven Churches in Asia

A drawing from Giovanni Antonio da Brescia and how it probably looked when found

Laocoon by El Greco

Laocoon, Rubens 1600/8

Laocoon and the expression of pain

Laocoon (1938) by Fotis Kontoglou (Apostolelis) (1895 – 1965) a Greek painter influenced by medieval Greek (byzantine) Art.

Laocoon in modern Art

Laocoon, James Anderson Photography 1853

Heinrich Heidersberger 1953 (Source of Image)

German Political Journal, "Der Spiegel", 1995.

Asterix and "Laocoon"

LAOCOON, n. A famous piece of antique scripture representing a priest of that name and his two sons in the folds of two enormous serpents. The skill and diligence with which the old man and lads support the serpents and keep them up to their work have been justly regarded as one of the noblest artistic illustrations of the mastery of human intelligence over brute inertia. Ambrose Bierce, THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY

More Info about Laocoon

Laocoon :The Reading of a Masterpiece (PDF File)

Many authors considered the proportions of the Hercules Farnese for example:

François Anne David, »Elémens du Dessin ou Proportions des plus belles figures de l'antiquité, à l'usage de ceux qui se destinant aux Beaux Arts.«, Paris 1798

Why is there a Laocoon sculpture outside a German School?

Possible answers (Only in German)

Laokoon oder über die Grenzen der Malerei und Poesie von Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (German)

List of Greek and Hellenistic Sculptors


Disease may have been encoded in the horse saga, but another clue may have been left us in the death of Laocoon by apparent suffocation. It is unlikely that healthy, awake adults would stand still long enough to be crushed by non-mythical constricting snakes, but there are none indigenous to Asia Minor. The snakes Virgil describes may have been neurotoxic venomous asps or cobras (except perhaps for their apparent size) A Different Horse: Alternate Interpretations of the Trojan War

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