25 of the Most Famous Ancient Greek Statues and Sculptures; Where Are They Now?


Hipsters In Stone Artist Léo Caillard
"Hipsters In Stone"
 Artist Léo Caillard

The ancient Greeks are legendary for many reasons;  their story-telling through mythology, for their twelve glorious gods, their esteemed philosophers, and their proud, brave warriors, but maybe we remember them most for their love of beauty.

Beauty, which the ancient Greeks honoured, by constructing some of the most amazing architectural wonders of the world, and beauty represented in spectacular, life-like statues and sculptures

Here are twenty five incredible works of ancient Greek art, twenty five of the most famous statues of ancient Greece; where they originated, where and when they were discovered, and where they can be found today.

Throughout the three eras of Ancient Greek art; Archaic (600 – 480 BC), Classical (480 – 323 BC) and Hellenistic (323 - 31 BC), three main materials were used; Bronze, marble and chryselephantine (Gold and ivory on wood).

The main men, all great sculptors, back in the days of the ancients, were Myron (Active 480 – 444), Pheidias (Active 488 – 444), Polykleitos (Active 450 – 430), Praxiteles (Active 375 – 335) and Lysippos (Active 370 – 300).

25 famous ancient Greek statues, listed in chronological order, with the approximate date of their creation.


1. Lady of Auxerre (Kore of Auxerre)
 Around 650 – 625 BC


  Auxerre Goddess  limestone statuette Louvre Museum, Paris
Auxerre Goddess  limestone statuette
Louvre Museum, Paris


Now in the Louvre Museum, Paris, France

The Lady of Auxerre, mysteriously came to light in the storage vault of the Louvre Museum in 1907, where she came from and how she got there, nobody knows.

The Lady of Auxerre is a “kore”, meaning a young girl, a maiden, also another name for Persephone, daughter of Demeter in Greek mythology.

The male equivalent is “kouros” a youth, or young boy, these are free-standing figures, life-size or larger, and were often used as grave markers.

These figures, as were all ancient monuments and sculptures, were not originally as we see them today, but were brightly painted, the colours have worn away with the passage of time.


Cast of the sculpture, with putative colour.  Reconstructed, at the Museum of Classical Archaeology, Cambridge
Cast of the sculpture, with putative colour.
 Reconstructed, at the Museum of Classical Archaeology, Cambridge

The Lady of Auxerre, a limestone, Cretan sculpture, 65 cm high (Unusually small for a kore), has a narrow waist, as did goddesses of the Minoan/Mycenaean era, and rigid, stiff hair, which shows an Egyptian influence.



2. The Sacred Gate Kouros (Dipylon Kouros) 
Around 600 BC


Sacred Gate kouros Marble, ca. 600-590 BC Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece
Sacred Gate kouros Marble, ca. 600-590 BC
Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece

Now in the Kerameikos Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece

The Sacred Gate Kouros, 2.10 meters tall, made from Naxian (Naxos) marble, was unearthed in 2002, at the cemetery of Kerameikos, the potter’s quarter of ancient Athens, by the German Archaeological Institute in Athens.


Sacred Gate kouros Marble, ca. 600-590 BC Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece caption
Sacred Gate kouros Marble, ca. 600-590 BC
Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece caption


The fact of the kouros being discovered near the sacred gate of the cemetery, a double gate, in Greek “dipylon” (along with other artifacts; two marble lions, a sphinx and fragments of marble pillars), leads experts to assume it was the work of the “Dipylon” sculptor who worked at the cemetery.


3. Kleobis and Biton
 Around 580 BC


Klebis and Biton Delphi Archaeological Museum, Greece
Kleobis and Biton
Delphi Archaeological Museum, Greece


Now in the Delphi Archaeological Museum, Greece

Found at Delphi, the navel of the world and the home to the Greek oracle, Pythia, in 1893 and 1894.

Kleobis and Biton, two larger than life (naked, except for boots), identical statues, made from Parian (Paros) marble.

Although found at Delphi, the statues originate from Argos in the Peloponnese and according to an inscription on the base, were made by Polymedes of Argos.

There are two stories to choose from, regarding their identity, both from Greek mythology.

Along with the name of the sculptor, the word “Fanakon” is inscribed on the base, meaning princes, the name usually given to Castor and Pollux, twin brothers, sons of Zeus, known as “dioscuri”, widely worshipped in the Peloponnese.

The second story has the statues named as Kleobis and Biton, the names under which they are displayed in the museum at Delphi, two human brothers, sons of the Cydippe, a priestess of the goddess Hera, at Delphi.


Klebis and Biton Delphi Archaeological Museum, Greece
Kleobis and Biton
Delphi Archaeological Museum, Greece


Cydippe, one day, is being pulled up a steep hill, by oxen and cart, to pray at the temple, the oxen drop dead on the spot, and being such good sons, Kleobis and Biton hitch themselves to the cart and proceed, with much effort, to drag their beloved mother up the steep hill.

The brothers make it to the temple at the top of the hill, where they collapse, exhausted, their mother prays to the goddess Hera, to allow them to die in their sleep, the kindest and easiest death for mere mortals.


4. Moschophoros (Calf - Bearer)
Around 570 BC


Moschophoros- Calf-bearer Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece
Moschophoros- Calf-bearer
Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece

Now in the Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece

The Moschophoros is one of the earliest dedications found at The Acropolis of Athens, excavated in 1864, it is  a “kouros” (Male youth) standing 1.65 meters high, made with marble from Mount Hymettus, Attiki. (The base is limestone)


Moschophoros- Calf-bearer Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece
Moschophoros- Calf-bearer
Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece

The Calf-Bearer and the Kritios Boy Shortly After Exhumation on the Acropolis, Athens, ca. 1865
The Calf-Bearer and the Kritios Boy
Shortly After Exhumation on the Acropolis, Athens, ca. 1865

An inscription on the base indicates that the statue was an offering to the goddess Athena, from Rhonbos, thoughts are that the bearded man, with a calf slung over his shoulder, is actually Rhonbos himself, bringing the calf to the Acropolis, to be sacrificed.



5. Peplos Kore
Around 530 BC


The Peplos Kore Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece
The Peplos Kore
Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece

Now in the Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece

The Peplos “kore” (Young female or maiden) is a  statue measuring 1.18 meters, found in three pieces, during excavations at the Acropolis, Athens, in 1886.

Made from Parian marble (Paros), this “Kore” takes its name from the “peplos”, a heavy woolen shawl worn in ancient Greece, which the young maiden is wearing.


The Peplos Kore Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece
The Peplos Kore
Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece

Holes on the lower right arm, and bent left arm, suggest that maybe she once wielded a bow and arrow, or shield and helmet, holes in her head and shoulders, suggest she originally wore a bronze head decoration.

6. Kritios Boy (Ephebos Youth)
Around 480 BC


Kritios Boy Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece
Kritios Boy
Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece

Now in the Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece

The body of the Kritios Boy, was found during excavations on the Acropolis Athen, in 1866, the head, twenty three years later, when joined together, the statue stands 86 cm tall.


Kritios Boy Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece
Kritios Boy
Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece


This statue, attributed to the sculptor Kritios, is one of the best examples of the shift from late archaic to early classical Greek style, when statues became less stiff and rigid, showing more natural movement, with them bearing their weight on one leg, rather than two, as in archaic style.


7. The Fallen Warrior of the Temple at Aphaia
Around 480 BC


The Dying Warrior, located at the pediment of the temple of Aphaia at Aegina. Glyptothek, Munich Berlin
The Dying Warrior, located at the pediment of the temple of Aphaia at Aegina.
East Pediment
Glyptothek, Munich Berlin

Now in the Glyptothek of Munich, Germany

The temple of Aphaia was built within a sanctuary on the island of Aegina, dedicated to the goddess Aphaia, the existing temple is maybe the second, or even third temple built on the site, the previous ones having been destroyed.

In 1811, English architect; Charles Robert Cockerell and Baron Otto Magnus Von Stackberg, removed sculptures from the East and West pediments of the temple (Shades of Elgin from England here), and had them shipped abroad, where they were sold to the Crown Prince, soon to be Ludwig I of Hanover.


The Dying Warrior, located at the pediment of the temple of Aphaia at Aegina. East Pediment Glyptothek, Munich Berlin
The Dying Warrior, located at the pediment of the temple of Aphaia at Aegina.
West Pediment 
Glyptothek, Munich Berlin


The sculptures taken from the temple of Aphai were of two warriors, felled in battle, who lay dying, the warrior from the West pediment had an arrow or spear lodged in his chest (Now missing), the warrior from the East pediment, is thought to be a later sculpture, both are thought to represent warriors from the Trojan Wars.


8. The Charioteer of Delphi
Around 470 BC


The Delphi Charioteer Daphne Archaeological Museum, Greece
The Delphi Charioteer
Delphi Archaeological Museum, Greece

Now in the Delphi Archaeological Museum, Greece

The Charioteer of Delphi, also referred to as the “Heniokhos” ; “The rein - holder”, was found in 1896 in the sanctuary of Apollo, Delphi, an excellent specimen of ancient bronze sculpture.

This is one of the best-known and best-preserved statues of ancient Delphi, thought to have been constructed to commemorate the victory of Polyzalus of Sicily at the Pythian Games.


The Delphi Charioteer Delphi Archaeological Museum, Greece
The Delphi Charioteer
Delphi Archaeological Museum, Greece


The Delphi Charioteer, a young man wearing the customary jockey’s tunic of the day, the “xystin”, was originally part of a group, and only survived because it was buried under a rock fall at Delphi, and therefore escaped being taken away and melted down for its metal, as happened frequently in those days.

The charioteer, the last remaining bronze sculpture from Delphi, almost intact, still with its glass eyes and copper detailing on the eye lashes, is linked to the sculptor Pythagoras of Samos, who lived and worked in Sicily.


9. Zeus and Ganymede
Around 470 BC


Zeus and Ganymede Terracotta Statue; Late Archaic; Olympia Archeological Museum
Zeus and Ganymede Terracotta Statue;
 Late Archaic; Olympia Archaeological Museum

Now in the Archaeological Museum of Olympia, Greece

Zeus and Ganymede is a terracotta group depicting Zeus taking young Ganymede to Mount Olympus.

The first fragments of the group were uncovered in the stadium at Olympia in 1874; more pieces were found, at the same place in 1938.


Zeus and Ganymede Terra Cotta Statue; Late Archaic; Olympia Archeological Museum
Zeus and Ganymede Terra Cotta Statue;
 Late Archaic; Olympia Archaeological Museum


The two figures, Zeus and Ganymede, depict  a well-known scene from Greek mythology, where Zeus, upon seeing Ganymede (From ancient Troy), overcome by his beauty, tricked him, stole him from his father and took him to Mount Olympus.


10. The Riace Bronzes (The Riace Warriors)
Around 460 BC


The Riace bronzes, housed in the National Museum of Reggio Calabria
The Riace bronzes,
 housed in the National Museum of Reggio Calabria


Now in the Museum Nazionale della Grecia , Reggio , Calabria, Italy

I love this wonderful story of how the Riace Bronzes were discovered in 1972, by Stefano Mariottini, a chemist and amateur scuba diver.

Stefano, while out snorkeling, two hundred meters off the shore of Riace, Calabria, Italy, was shocked to spot what he thought was a human arm sticking out of the sea bed, thinking the mafia had been up to no good, Stefano called the police.

The police arrived on the scene, dug around a bit, realized they were dealing with something better than a dead body and called in the archaeologists, who were on the spot “Subito”, where they discovered two ancient Greek bronze statues, but no ship wreck.


The Riace bronzes, housed in the National Museum of Reggio Calabria
The Riace bronzes,
 housed in the National Museum of Reggio Calabria


The two statues, which differ in height by a few centimeters, labeled statue A and statue B are thought to have been made by separate sculptors; statue A by Myron, a student of Pheidias,  and statue B by Alkamenes.

At one time, they would have held spears.

Although discovered in 1972, the figures were not put on public display until 1981, in Florence and Rome; where over 1000 000 flocked to see them in less than one year!


11. The Artemision Bronze (God from the Sea)
Around 460 BC


The Artemision Bronze National Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece
The Artemision Bronze
National Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece


Now in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece
The Artemision Bronze was pulled from the sea, in two pieces, off the Cape of Artemision (North Euboea- Evia, the second largest island after Crete) during excavations at the site of a Roman shipwreck in 1926 to 1928.


The Artemision Bronze National Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece
The Artemision Bronze
National Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece


The statue, measuring 209 cm in height, portrays either Zeus or Poseidon (Neptune), Zeus would have held a thunderbolt, Poseidon a trident.

The jockey of Artemision National Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece
The jockey of Artemision
National Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece

The famous Jockey of Artemision was discovered from the same ship wreck site.



12. Discus Thrower (Discobolus)
Around 460 BC


The Discobolus statue- Discus Thrower National Museum of Rome
The Discobolus statue- Discus Thrower
National Museum of Rome

Now in the National Museum of Rome

The original bronze statue, the Discus Thrower, thought to be by Myron of Eleutherae, an Athenian sculptor who worked solely in bronze, best known for his representations of athletes, is unfortunately lost, but the piece is known from Roman copies.

The first copy of the famous statue, found on the property of Massimo family, at Villa Palombra on Esquiline Hill, in 1781, is the Palombara, or, Lancellotti Discobolus, made in the first century.

After restoration, the statue was installed in the family palazzo, and later, at the Palazzo Lancellotti.

In 1937 Adolph Hitler negotiated to buy the Discobolus statue, which he eventually did in 1938, sold to him by Galeazzo Ciano, Minister of foreign affairs, (After much protesting from the Italian people), for five million lire.


The original sculpture, now lost, was created in bronze by Myron in Greece in the 5th Century BC (Credit: Rotatebot/Wikipedia)
The original sculpture, now lost, was created in bronze by Myron in Greece in the 5th Century BC (Photo: Rotatebot/Wikipedia)


The statue was sent to Germany by train, and displayed in the Glyptothek, Munich.

The statue was returned to Italy in 1948 and is now displayed in the National Museum of Rome.
A second copy, The Townley Discobolus, was found at Hadrien’s Wall in 1770, and bought by an English art dealer, Thomas Jenkins at public auction in 1792, later it was bought by Charles Townley for four hundred pounds sterling, for the British Museum in 1805.

The Discus Thrower has now become an iconic image of the Olympic Games.


13. The Marble Metopes of the Parthenon
(Part of the Parthenon Marbles)
Around 447- 438 BC


Marble Metopes from the Parthenon, Acropolis, Greece, Athens Now in The British Museum, London England
Marble Metopes from the Parthenon, Acropolis, Athens, Greece

Now in The British Museum, London
England

Marble Metopes from the Parthenon, Acropolis, Greece, Athens Now in The British Museum, London England
Marble Metopes from the Parthenon, Acropolis, Athens Greece
Now in The British Museum, London
England

Marble Metopes from the Parthenon, Acropolis, Greece, Athens Now in The British Museum, London England
Marble Metopes from the Parthenon, Acropolis, Athens, Greece
Now in The British Museum, London
England

Now in the British Museum, London, England, part of the Parthenon Marbles.

The Metopes of the Parthenon, were originally ninety two marble panels which enhanced the exterior of the Parthenon, part of the Doric Frieze, found on the Acropolis of Athens; made by Pheidias, they are famous examples of classical Greek high-relief.

The metopes of the Parthenon, depicted scenes from ancient Greek mythology and in general, represented the triumph of reason over animal passion and chaos.

There were fourteen metopes on each of the Western, and Eastern walls, and thirty two on each of the Northern and Southern walls.

The fourteen metopes of the Eastern wall, were above the main entrance of the Parthenon, and show the final stages of the battle between the Giants and the Olympian gods, there are figures of Zeus, a chariot ridden by Hera and Poseidon (Neptune) with his trident.

The metopes of the Southern wall show the battle of the Lapiths (An Aeolian tribe) against the Centaurs (Mythical creatures with the upper body of a man and lower body of a horse).

The Partnenon Marbles British Museum, London England
The Partnenon Marbles
British Museum, London England

The metopes of the North wall show the Greeks at war with the Trojans, referred to as “The Sack of Troy”.

In 1687, a cannon ball hit the Parthenon, during an attack from the Venetians, destroying many of the metopes, only fourteen of the original 32 panels survive and are displayed in the Acropolis Museum.

Fifteen of the Metopes from the South wall were “removed” by Lord Elgin of England, and are now in the British Museum, London.


A short video;

 'The Curse of the Elgin Marbles,
Seekers of the Lost Treasure'





14. The Parthenon Marbles
(Goddesses of the East Pediment of the Parthenon)
Around 447 – 438 BC


The Partnenon Marbles British Museum, London England
The Partnenon Marbles
British Museum, London England

The Partnenon Marbles British Museum, London England
The Partnenon Marbles
British Museum, London England

It saddens me awfully, to say that these unique marble sculptures, made by Pheidias, from the beautiful white marble of Penteli, which adorned the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens for thousands of years, are now in The British Museum, London, England.

From 1801 to 1812, Thomas Bruce; Lord Elgin visited the Acropolis of Athens, (Oh that he never had!) which was under Ottoman occupation at the time, and proceeded to deface the pride of Athens, the Parthenon.

 Elgin removed nearly half of the surviving sculptures; twenty one figures from the East and West pediments and seventy five meters of the Parthenon Frieze, were hacked from the walls of the majestic temple,  much to the disgust of Lord Byron, who likened Elgin’s behavior to vandalism and looting.


The Partnenon Marbles British Museum, London England
The Partnenon Marbles
British Museum, London England

The Partnenon Marbles British Museum, London England
The Partnenon Marbles
British Museum, London England

The Partnenon Marbles British Museum, London England
The Partnenon Marbles
British Museum, London England

The Partnenon Marbles British Museum, London England
The Partnenon Marbles
British Museum, London England

The Partnenon Marbles British Museum, London England
The Partnenon Marbles
British Museum, London England

Elgin had the stolen loot shipped to England, where he sold it to the British government in 1816, who handed it over to the British Museum.

The goddesses on the East pediment of the Parthenon, depict the birth of the goddess Athina, to the left is Helios, the sun god, rising from the sea, pulled by horses, next comes the only figure to have a head, Dionysus, and then Persephone and her mother. Demeter.

The central group; Athena being born from the head of Zeus, when struck with an axe by Hephaistus is missing.

Still surviving are a group of three goddesses, possibly Hestia, Dione and her daughter, the moon goddess; Selene.

Below, The Parthenon and what she has endured.
A short film by kostas Gavras;
 Eight minutes of sorrow.




15. Athena Parthenos (Athena the Virgin)
Around 447 BC


Athena Parthenos (Phidias) - Greek classical period - National Archaeological Museum of Athens wikepedia
Athena Parthenos (Phidias) - Greek classical period
 National Archaeological Museum of Athens


The Athena Parthenos, by Pheidias, a huge statue of the goddess Athina, created from chryselephantine (Gold and ivory on wood), eleven and a half meters tall, housed in the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens, was removed by the Romans, and is now lost.

Ancient reproductions, such as the “Varvakeion Athena” a third century AD Roman copy,
and the Lenormant Athena (Unfinished), from the second or third century AD, are displayed in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, Greece.


Copy of Athena Parthenos By Alan LeQuire, Nashville, Tennessee.
Copy of Athena Parthenos
By Alan LeQuire,
Nashville, Tennessee.

A large, modern copy by Alan LeQuire, sits in a reproduction of the Acropolis Parthenon, in Nashville, Tennessee.


16. Zeus at Olympia
Around 435 BC


 Olympian Zeus in the sculptured antique art of Quatremère de Quincy 1815
Olympian Zeus in the sculptured antique art of Quatremère de Quincy 1815

A giant sculpture of the ancient Greek god Zeus, lost and destroyed during the fifth century AD, was thirteen meters tall, the size of a four story building, and erected in the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, Greece.

This amazing sculpture was made by Pheidias (Who had also made the huge statue of Athena Parthenos), and reportedly took eight years to construct.


Phidias' workshop at Olympia    Photo Alun Salt 2005
Phidias' workshop at Olympia
  Photo Alun Salt 2005

The Temple of Zeus was designed by Libon from Elis in 466- 456 BC, the site included a stadium, where the Olympic Games were held every four years, in honour of Zeus.

Pheidias’ workshop was found in 1954- 58, West of the Temple of Zeus.


Look what Evgeny Kazantsev, a digital artist, came up with, when imagining what the Ancient Wonders of the World would look like today. This beautiful image is what he produced to depict the Statue of Zeus at Olympia

Statue of Zeus at Olympia. This statue used to sit at 42 ft tall and was crafted beautifully out of precious stones, ebony and gold.

Statue of Zeus at Olympia.
Evgeny Kazantsev (Digital artist)
 This statue used to sit at 42 ft tall and was crafted beautifully out of precious stones, ebony and gold.


The Zeus of Olympia, Zeus sitting on his throne, was commissioned by the Eleans, an ancient region in the Southern Peloponnese and  consisted of ivory and gold panels, placed  over cedar wood and  embellished with ebony and precious stones, it is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

No copy has ever been found, but details of the Zeus of Olympia, are know from word of mouth descriptions, passed down through generations of ancient Greeks, and from images of Zeus of Olympia, adorning ancient Greek coins.


Image of Zeus of Olympia on ancient Greek coin
Image of Zeus of Olympia on ancient Greek coin


What happened to this great Zeus, is not known, was it carried off to Byzantium by the Romans, and maybe later destroyed in the fire at the Palace of Lausus in 475 AD?

Or did Zeus perish in the fire at Olympia in 525 AD?


17. Marathon Youth (Ephebe of Marathon)
Around 400 BC


National Archaeological Museum of Athens, Greece
The Marathon Youth


National Archaeological Museum of Athens, Greece
Now in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, Greece

The Marathon Youth is a bronze statue, found in 1925, in the Bay of Marathon in the Aegean Sea.


National Archaeological Museum of Athens, Greece
National Archaeological Museum of Athens, Greece

Most likely, the  Marathon Youth was the winner of an athletic competition; the style suggests the sculptor may have been connected to the school of Praxiteles.


18. Hermes of Praxiteles
Around 400 BC


Hermes of Praxiteles Archaeological Museum of Olympia, Greece
Hermes of Praxiteles
Archaeological Museum of Olympia, Greece


Now in the Archaeological Museum of Olympia, Greece

Hermes of Praxiteles came to light during the excavations, in 1877, at the Temple of Hera, Olympia.


Hermes of Praxiteles Archaeological Museum of Olympia, Greece
Hermes of Praxiteles
Archaeological Museum of Olympia, Greece


This giant 2.13 meter high statue, made from highly polished Parian (Paros) marble, made by the ancient Greek sculptor Praxiteles, shows the Ancient Greek myth of when Hermes takes the baby Dionysos to the Nysiades.

The Nysiades were, three, five or six Okeanid-nymphs of the mythical Mount Nysa, who are said to have reared Dionysus, and whose names are Cisseïs, Nysa, Erato, Eriphia, Bromia, and Polyhymno. 


19. Aphrodite of Knidos
Around 350 BC


The Colonna Venus Aphrodite of Knidos Museo Pio-Clementino, in the Vatican Museum
The Colonna Venus
Aphrodite of Knidos
Museo Pio-Clementino, in the Vatican Museum

The statue Aphrodite of Knidos, one of the most famous works of Praxiteles, has not survived, maybe it was moved to the Palace of Lausus, Byzantium, by the Romans, which burned down in 474 BC, and was lost.

According to Pliny, Praxiteles of Athens, an ancient Greek sculptor, was commissioned to create a figure, as a cult statue, for a temple dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite, by the people of the island of Kos.

Praxiteles made two statues, one clothed (The unclothed one is the one that does not exist today) and one nude and presented both statues to the people of Kos, and bid them to take their pick.


The Collona Venus Museo Pio-Clementino Vatican Museum
The Collona Venus
Museo Pio-Clementino
Vatican Museum


The prudish citizens of Kos, shocked to the core, instantly rejected the nude statue and took the clothed figure.
The rejected nude figure was bought by the citizens of Knidos, an ancient city in South - West Asia Minor.

Famous for its beauty, the knidos Aphrodite, the first life-sized figure of a naked female, shows the goddess Aphrodite preparing for the ritual bath which restored purity (Not virginity).

To add to the gossip already surrounding the Knidos Aphrodite, Praxiteles is rumored to have used the courtesan Phryne as his model.

This often copied sculpture, also referred to as the Venus (Aphrodite) Pudica, (On account of her modestly having her hand over her halfpenny), “The Venus de Medici” or “The Capitoline Venus” and, despite being a cult statue became a tourist attraction, it is said even Aphrodite, after hearing all the hoo ha about the statue, came to see it for herself

The Patron of the Knidians, Nicomedes of Bythia, offered to pay off the huge debts that the city had chalked up, in exchange for the beautiful statue of Aphrodite, his offer was refused.

The most accurate copy of the Aphrodite of Knidos is the “Colonna Venus”, housed in the Museo Pio-Clementino, in the Vatican Museum.



20. The Motya Charitoeer
Around 350 BC


The Motya Charioteer Photo from The Culture Concept Circle by Carolyn Mcdowal
The Motya Charioteer
Photo from The Culture Concept Circle by
Carolyn Mcdowal
Giuseppe Whitaker Museum, San Pantaleo island

Now in the Giuseppe Whitaker Museum, San Pantaleo island, 10km north of Marsala, Scicily

The Motya charioteer was found in 1979, at Motya, an island off the West coast of Sicily.



The Motya Charioteer When on loan to British Museum Photo from The Culture Concept Circle by Carolyn Mcdowal  Giuseppe Whitaker Museum, San Pantaleo island
The Motya Charioteer
When on loan to British Museum
Photo from The Culture Concept Circle by
Carolyn Mcdowal 
Giuseppe Whitaker Museum, San Pantaleo island

The island of Motya ,given its name; Motya, (The name of a woman associated with Hercules in Greek mythology) by ancient Greeks, who had settled there for nearly four centuries, was initially inhabited by Phoenicians.

The Motya Charioteer, wearing the customary tunic, the “Xystis”, one of the first surviving classical sculptures of anywhere in the world, shows a victorious charioteer, made by a Greek sculptor living in Sicily.


21. The Victorious Youth (The Getty Bronze)
Around 310 BC


The Victorious Youth J. Paul Getty Museum, Pacific Palisades, California, USA
The Victorious Youth
J. Paul Getty Museum, Pacific Palisades, California, USA

Now in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Pacific Palisades, California, USA

The ancient Greek, bronze statue of The Victorious Youth, was caught in the nets of a fishing trawler, in the Sea of Fano, on the Adriatic coast of Italy in 1964.


The Victorious Youth J. Paul Getty Museum, Pacific Palisades, California, USA
The Victorious Youth
J. Paul Getty Museum, Pacific Palisades, California, USA



After a few “Under the counter” goings on, many offers and much competition from the Metropolitan Museum of art, The Victorious Youth was obtained for the Getty Museum in 1977.


22. The Winged Victory of Samothrace (Nike of Samothrace)
Around 200 BC


The Winged Victory of Samothrace Nike Of Samothrace Louvre Museum, Paris, Freance
The Winged Victory of Samothrace
Nike Of Samothrace
Louvre Museum, Paris, France

Now in the Louvre Museum, Paris, France

And now we come to one of the two most famous Ancient Greek sculptures of the whole world, one of the few surviving, original Hellenistic statues, not a Roman copy, (The other one being the Venus di Milo), the Winged Victory of Samothrace, or Nike of Samothrace, Nike; Greek goddess of victory.


The Winged Victory of Samothrace Nike Of Samothrace Louvre Museum, Paris, Freance
The Winged Victory of Samothrace
Nike Of Samothrace
Louvre Museum, Paris, France


This is my personal favourite ancient Greek statue, which I am lucky to have seen in the Louvre Museum, Paris, where it dominates the Daru staircase, standing in all its glory, on the prow of a ship, at the entrance to the first floor.

The sculptor is unknown, but it is thought that Pythokritos of Lindos may be the talented man.



The Winged Victory of Samothrace Nike Of Samothrace Louvre Museum, Paris, Freance
The Winged Victory of Samothrace
Nike Of Samothrace
Louvre Museum, Paris, France


The statue, made from grey Thasian (Thasos) marble and white  Parian (Paros) Marble, standing 2.44 meters tall and proud, not only honours the goddess Nike, but also a sea battle, maybe the Battle of Salamis, or the Battle of Actium.


The Winged Victory of Samothrace Nike Of Samothrace Louvre Museum, Paris, Freance
The Winged Victory of Samothrace
Nike Of Samothrace
Louvre Museum, Paris, France

The Winged Victory of Samothrace was discovered on the Greek island of Samothrace, then under Ottoman rule, in 1863, by the French consul; amateur archaeologist, Charles Champoiseau, who sent the statue to Paris, where it stands since 1884 in the Louvre Museum.

A plaster replica stands in the museum at Samothrace, built on the spot where the original Winged Victory was discovered.



Plaster copy of the  Winged Victory of Samothrace. Paleopolis Museum Samothraki Photo; David John
 Plaster copy of the  Winged Victory of Samothrace.
Paleopolis Museum Samothraki
Photo; David John


23. Laocoon and Sons (Laocoon Group)
Around 200 BC


Laocoon and his Sons Vatican Miuseum
Laocoon and his Sons
Vatican Museum

Now in the Vatican Museum

The sculpture of Laocoon and his sons, was discovered during excavations in Rome in 1506, and was placed on public display in the Vatican Museum.

A near life-sized group of figures, over 2 meters in height, the sculpture depicts the Trojan Priest, Laocoon, with his twin sons; Antiphantes and Thymbraeus, being attacked by two gigantic sea serpents.

Pliny credits the work, which at the time was in the palace of Emperor Titus, to three ancient Greek sculptors from the island of Rhodes; Agesander, Athendoros and Polydoros.

 Pliny was not sure though,  if the statue is an original of the Hellenistic era, or if it is a copy of an earlier sculpture made in the “Pergamon Baroque” style, which emerged from the city of Pergamon in Greek Asia Minor (Modern day Turkey).


Laocoon and his Sons Vatican Museum
Laocoon and his Sons
Vatican Museum


Laocoon, a priest of the god Apollo and son of Priam of Troy, is known, from Greek mythology, for angering Apollo by breaking his oath of celibacy and getting up to a bit of hanky panky in the Apollon Sanctuary, which resulted in the birth of his twin sons.

Is this why Apollo the sons of Laocoon, crushed to death by the serpents, leaving Laocoon alone to suffer, or is another version of the story the reason for the death of Laocoon and his sons, where Laocoon is a priest of Poseidon (Neptune), rather than Apollo, and is killed, along with his sons for warning the Trojans not to accept the Trojan horse from the Greeks?

 Virgil describes this event in The Aeneid and gives Laocoon the famous line;

 “Do not trust the horse, Trojans. Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even bearing gifts.”

This gave birth to the famous line;

 “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.” 



24. The Pergamon Alter
Around 180-160


The Pergamon Alter Pergamon Museum and Altes Museum (Both on Berlin’s Museum island), Germany
The Pergamon Alter
Pergamon Museum and Altes Museum (Both on Berlin’s Museum island), Germany


Now in the Pergamon Museum and Altes Museum (Both on Berlin’s Museum island), Germany

The Pergamon alter of Zeus, was a monument built on the Acropolis of the ancient city of Pergamon in Greek Asia Minor (Modern day Turkey)

The base of the alter was adorned with a relief, showing the battle between the Giants and the Olympian gods, known as the Gigantomachy.


The Pergamon Alter Pergamon Museum and Altes Museum (Both on Berlin’s Museum island), Germany
The Pergamon Alter
Pergamon Museum and Altes Museum (Both on Berlin’s Museum island), Germany


In 1878 a German engineer, Carl Humann, began excavations on the Acropolis of Pergamon, and, after rather a lot of haggling with the Turkish government, it was agreed that all fragments of the frieze from the Pergamon Alter, found by Humann, would become the property of the Berlin Museums.

The pieces of ancient Greek sculpture were shipped to Germany, where they were reconstructed by a team of Italians and in 1930 were put on public view in the Pergamon Museum of Berlin.

It was announced in 2014 that the Pergamon exhibit would be will be closed for restoration, until around 2019-2020.


25. The Venus de Milo
Around 130-100 BC


The Venus de Milo Louvre Museum Paris, France
The Venus de Milo
Louvre Museum
Paris, France

Now in the Louvre Museum, Paris, France

And here we are, the  last of my chosen twenty five spectacular  ancient Greek sculptures, it’s been a long haul, but what a one to finish with; The Venus de Milo, maybe the most recognizable of all Greek statues!

The Venus de Milo, made from Parian (Paros) marble, standing 203 cm high, was discovered in 1820, inside a buried niche, in the ancient city of Milos, today the village of Tripiti, on the Aegean island of Milos, then under occupation of the Ottomans, by a Greek peasant, Georgos Kentrotas.


The Venus de Milo Louvre Museum Paris, France
The Venus de Milo
Louvre Museum
Paris, France


After agreeing to sell the statue to the French, Georgos became impatient when payment was not forthcoming and sold it to Nicholas Mourousi, a translator in Istanbul, a case of first come, first served.

     Just as the statue was being put aboard a ship heading for Istanbul, the French Ambassador’s assistant, Hermes de Marcellus, arrived at the port in the nick of time, seized the statue, and managed to convince the chief inhabitant of the island to annul the sale, which he did, and the statue was presented to France as a gift.


The Venus de Milo Louvre Museum Paris, France
The Venus de Milo
Louvre Museum
Paris, France

When first, laid bare, it was thought the Venus di Milo was made by the Great Athenian sculptor, Praxiteles, but on the discovery of an inscription on the plinth, it turns out, this amazing work was done by a strolling minstrel and artist, Alexandros of Antioch, who worked for commission.

The statue is believed to be Aphrodite (Venus), goddess of love and beauty.


The Venus de Milo Louvre Museum Paris, France
The Venus de Milo
Louvre Museum
Paris, France

If you compare this last statue; the Venus de Milo, with the first on my list; the Lady of Auxerre, you will notice how the style has evolved, from the rigid, stiffness of the archaic period, to the fluid, free movement of the Hellenistic period.

 Slowly but surely, through the classical period, the sculptures have become more life-like, they now have a certain finesse, their faces are no longer without expression, starring straight ahead, you notice that coy little smile or the side-ward glance of an eye.

Pure perfection was achieved with the advent of the Hellenistic period; the detail of the drapery on the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the turn of an ankle here, the crook of a finger there, and everywhere, soft, fluid movement.

 What better example of this, than the Venus de Milo, with her air of aloofness, that twist of her waist, after this exceptional work of art, what?

Can the Venus de Milo ever be bettered?

I think not.

I’ll leave you on a humerous note; have a look at how Artist, Léo Caillard, has dressed up some of the ancient Greek statues as hipsters, in his project;


 I love them, and have borrowed one of his gods for my post cover picture!

I just love lists, don’t you?









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