skip to content

Museum of Classical Archaeology Databases

Laocoon Group

A group of a dying father and his sons.

Laocoon was a priest who advised against letting the wooden horse inside Troy, warning of “Greeks bearing gifts”. Not only was he ignored but the gods, taking the Greek side in the myth, sent serpents to kill him and his sons.

This group is thought to be a Roman adaptation, adding the second son, of a Hellenistic original. It has long been admired for the realism of its anatomy and for the variety of expression in the faces and figures; one beaten, one suffering, and one perhaps escaping. It is thought that the upper arm should be bent to the head, not extended as in this cast.

Sculptures like the Laocoon were considered the pinnacle of Greek sculpture, even if seen only in Roman replication, up to the early years of the nineteenth century. The philhellene movement gathered strength after that, and led to the rise in admiration for the more austere originals of Periklean Athens, at the expense of Laocoon and similar works

Number: 
386
Material: 
Marble
Location of Original: 

Rome, Vatican, Cortile di Belvedere

Size: 
2.19m
Accession: 

Transferred from the Fitzwilliam Museum in 1884

References: 

Lippold: Griechische Plastik, 384, pl. 135.2
Richter: Three Critical Periods in Greek Sculpture, appendix
Amelung: Catalogue of the Vatican Museum II (1908), 181-, no.74
Walston: Catalogue of Casts in the Museum of Classical Archaeology (1889), 102, no.547
Pliny: Natural History XXXVI, 37
Reporter: 19 June 1885, 894, no.482
Pollitt: Art in the Hellenistic Age, 120, pl. 124
Brilliant: My Laocoön (2000)
Haskell & Penny: Taste and the Antique (1981), 243

Date: 
C1 CE. Original: c.200 BCE
Sculptor: 
Agesandros, Athenodoros and Polydoros
Provenance: 

Discovered in Rome in 1506

Search Casts

Use our search tools to search the Casts Archive

Museum of Classical Archaeology, Cambridge

Every cast tells two stories.
One ancient. One modern.

Admission is free.

Opening hours

Mon-Fri: 10am-5pm
Sat: 10am-1pm (Univ. term-time only)
Sun: Closed

Visit us

Museum of Classical Archaeology
Faculty of Classics
Sidgwick Avenue
Cambridge
CB3 9DA

Get in touch

Tel. +44 (0)1223 330402
Email

Facebook Twitter

For an explanation of what personal information we gather when you visit the University’s website and details of how that information is used please see the following University Privacy policy:

https://www.cam.ac.uk/about-this-site/privacy-policy