Doryphoros (Spear Bearer)

Doryphoros (Spear Bearer)

Artist Polykleitos

Date ca. 450-440 BCE

Movement Greek | Classical

Medium Marble

Height 6’6”

Housed at Museo Archaelogico Nazionale, Naples


This particular piece is a Roman copy after a bronze original by Polykleitos. In his greatest work, Polykleitos here imposes his “kanon” or guiding standards of bodily proportion, and thus beauty; the work displays thoughtful “symmetria”— the placement of forms not only in relation to its counterpart, but to the entire whole as well. In a pronounced chiastic pose, the head turns to its right, aligned with the engaged leg, while opposing limbs dip forward to make for lifelike “rhythmos,” or composition and movement. Philosophers of this age believed that beauty and harmony were functions of proportion, and, in the human form, this was accounted for by proportion; these proportions, then, were a reflection of the inner “arete,” or virtue.