The Discobolus


The Palombara or Lancellotti Discobolus is located in the National Museum of Rome, Palazzo Massimo.


This sculpture depicts an athlete in the process of throwing a discus, thus receiving its name Discobolus. This Roman sculpture dates from the first century A.D. and is a marble copy of an original Greek bronze sculpture from the fifth century B.C. The original work was cast by the Greek sculptor Myron. This marble sculpture was the first copy of this type to be discovered. It was discovered in 1781 on the grounds of the villa Palombara, which was owned by the Massimo family. This particular sculpture derives its title from its history of installations, for instance, Palazzo Lancellotti. The arrangement of the figure forms a composition of opposites: as one leg bares weight, the other is weight free, as one arm extends outward, the other curves inwards, as the lower half of the figure remains in profile, the upper half twists back. The analogous actions of the figure’s features capture a sense of life and movement. This sculpture embodies the art and innovation of ancient Greek sculpture and should be at the top of any artistic bucket list.

Did you know?: This sculpture type can be seen in Leni Reifenstahl’s film Olympia, which documents the 1936 summer Olympics held in Berlin. Adolf Hitler held this type of imagery to such high standards, that in 1938 he bought the Lancellotti Discobolus and had it shipped to Germany. In 1948 it was returned to Italy, where it remains in the Palazzo Massimo. 

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