Myron (Biographical details)

Myron (sculptor/medallist; Greek; Male; 460BC - 420BC; approximately)

Also known as

Myron

Biography

An Athenian bronze-caster born in Eleutherai (on the border between Attica and Boeotia), Myron was most celebrated in antiquity for his depictions of animals, most notably a heifer and possibly also a monument to a cicada and a locust, the objects of poetical encomia (Pliny 34, 57-58). In modern times he is acclaimed rather for his Discus-thrower, represented in what appears to be mid-action. Vividly described by Lucian (Philopseudes 18) as 'the discus-thrower, who is bent over into the throwing position, is turned toward the hand that holds the discus, and has the opposite knee gently flexed, like one who will straighten up again after the throw...', the main lines of the figure are easily recognised in numerous Roman variants.

Pausanias mentions a number of statues of athletes by Myron and Pliny (34, 67-68) attributes a number of other works to him: a dog, a Perseus, an Apollo, a Herakles, pankratists, sawyers and a group of Athena and a satyr gazing in wonder at the pipes (the flutes that Athena had cast away in disgust when she saw how blowing them disfigured her face). That he was able to capture a sense of movement in bronze is suggested by a poem in the Greek Anthology (16.54): 'As you once were, O Ladas, full of life, when you left behind wind-swift Thymos, straining your sinews as you ran on the tips of your toes, so did Myron cast you in bronze and stamp everywhere in your body the anticipation of the crown of Pisa. He is full of hope and on the edge of his lips the breath from his hollow flanks is visible; soon after the bronze will leap for the crown, nor will the base be able to hold it back. Oh, art is swifter than a breath of wind'.

Poetic panegyrics cannot be taken entirely at face value, but the number of testimonia referring to his skill in realistic depiction of animals bears some weight of its own. The indisputable reflections of his Discus-thrower indicate that he was an early classical explorer of the effects of movement that could be caught in bronze.

None of his original bronzes has yet been identified, but scholars have tried to relate Roman sculptures (and even Greek vase paintings) to works cited in literature.

Bibliography

Pliny NH 34.10, 49, 50, 57-59, 68, 79; 36, 32
Pausanias (questionable); 6.8.4, 6.8.5, 6.13.2, 9.30.1
Gisela M A Richter, Sculpture and Sculptors of the Greeks (4th ed. New Haven and London 1970), pp.160-165
Pollitt, The Art of Ancient Greece: Sources and Documents (CUP 19900 2nd ed.) pp.48-52, 222
John Boardman, Greek Sculpture: The Late Classical Period, p.80
Lucian Philopseudes 18
Andrew Stewart, Greek Sculpture (New Haven and London 1990), pp. 255-257