Statue of a Greek God or Hero

UnknownRoman, mid-1st century AD

Cincinnati Art Museum

Cincinnati Art Museum
Cincinnati, United States

This larger-than-life-sized marble statue is a Roman masterwork of the early Imperial era, the period of the emergent Roman Empire. The sculptural style of the head, carved separately and inserted into the torso, identifies it as a Roman original of the middle years of the first century A.D.: the carving and drilling technique of the hair points to a date around the reign of the Roman emperor Nero (A.D. 54–68). Both head and torso are carved from the same distinctive, glistening marble native to the Aegean island of Thasos, where it was quarried.

The statue’s torso tells a different story. In its pose, stance, and anatomical proportions, it clearly reflects the influence of Greek sculpture of the High Classical period (450–430 B.C.), exemplified in the work of the great master Polykleitos. It was Polykleitos, in fact, who instituted a new sculptural standard (or “canon”) of proportions, while developing a more naturalistic style that freed Greek statuary from its earlier, more rigid stance and pose. The Cincinnati statue stands freely with its weight supported on the right leg, while the left is relaxed or slightly bent. The swaying musculature of the back reflects a new sense of torsion characteristic of such statuary.


  • Title: Statue of a Greek God or Hero
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: Roman, mid-1st century AD
  • Location: Mediterranean region
  • Location Created: Roman Empire, Mediterranean area
  • Physical Dimensions: H. 56 1/4 in. (142.9 cm), W. maximum 25 in. (63.5 cm), W. thighs 14 in. (35.6 cm); base: H. 30 in. (76.2 cm), W. square 15 in. (38.1 cm)
  • Credit Line: Museum purchase with funds provided by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Westheimer, The John C. Griswold Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. John P. March, Mrs. Fletcher Nyce, Mrs. John Warrington, Lawrence Archer Wachs Fund, anonymous donations, and various funds, by exchange
  • Accession Number: 2005.635
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Medium: marble

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