Lysippos and Delphi
Late 4th – early 3rd c. B.C. sculptor Lysippos was an important figure of ancient Greek Art and the favorite sculptor of Alexander the Great. He worked in the transition era between Classical period and Hellenistic period. He wrote the epilogue of the former and proceeded the basic aspects of the latter. Plutarch, in his Life of Alexander, inform us that Lysippos was personal sculptor to Alexander the Great; indeed, he was the only artist whom the conqueror saw fit to represent him.
Other writers at the time, including Pliny, make many references to Lysippos and his style of sculpting. They comment on the grace and elegance, and the symmetria or coherent balance of his figures. They said he produced new and striking versions of the Gods, including Zeus and the Sun-God.
Lysippos was also head of the famous athletic school of Peloponnese, and naturally sculpted many athletes. Most popular at the time as a commission, was a figure of an athlete, scraping his body with a strigil – a curved instrument, used to scrap oil, dirt and sweat from the body. Apoxyomenos (The Scraper) is a known Roman marble copy which can be seen in the Vatican Museum.
The Vatican Apoxyomenos by Lysippus, in the Museo Pio-Clementino, found in Trastevere, 1849.
Statues of distinguished political leaders of that long period were made by his workshop. The amusing fact is that most of them being opponents to each other! In the Sanctuary of Delphi stood, at the same time, the statue of Pelopidas -the Theban General-, the “Krateros Complex” -a Thracian King, allied to the Macedonians-, the “Daochos Complex” -Daochos was Ruler of Pharsala, Thessaly, allied to Philip II of Macedon-, now restored in room XI of the Museum of Delphi.
Lysippos was not the first sculptor that worked for City-States or Kingdoms that were enemies to each other: The 4th c. BC Sculptor Antiphanes of Argos worked not only for Argeians (statues at the niche of the “Kings of Argos”) and Arcadians (statues at the “Ex-Voto of the Arcadians”, “Trojan Horse”), but also for their opponents, the Spartans (statues of the Admirals of the Spartans at the “Aigos Potamoi Ex-Voto“).