Sunday, August 16, 2009

The seated boxer

I thought that a close-up would be useful. Notice the look on his face, the scars and blood.

[Edit 022010: read this post from 191209 for more information on boxing in antiquity]


Björn Nilsson said...

Punch-drunk poor fellow? Maybe time to quit boxing before it's too late? This piece of art does not give boxing a positive image (unless you like to see people beaten to pieces).

Patrik Klingborg said...

Well, boxing was a much rougher sport in ancient Greece than it is today. There is a passage in the Iliad XXIII, 650-700 (I think that's the passage - it's very difficult to check the lines in my copy) that describe a match.

Björn Nilsson said...

To me, this guy looks like the final personal tragedy ... Ever heard Paul Simon's The Boxer?

Anonymous said...

This has to be one of my favourite pieces of artwork from Ancient Greece, because of its gritty realism. It contrasts greatly to the heavily idealised statues of Classical Greece, portraying nude athletes.

As Patrik says, Ancient Greek boxing differed a lot from modern boxing. Indeed, it was much, much rougher. For example: the contestants back then didn't wear padded gloves like today, which minimizes the damage caused by the blows. Instead, they wrapped their hands in straps of leather - as can be seen on the statue of the seated boxer. Because of that the blows were potentially lethal, and the sharp edges of the leather straps opened up terrible cuts on the contestants faces. It is obvious the boxer portrayed here has seen his fair share of fights, judging by the many cuts, bruises and swellings on his face.

Furthermore, there was no round system like in modern boxing, where the pugilist is allowed a minute off to catch his breath. In Ancient Greek boxing the match went on until one of the contestants yielded or wasn't physically able to continue.

I like this statue a lot, because it gives me a much needed reality check. Sometimes you tend to forget that the Ancient World wasn't all about noble statesman, learned philosophers and great art and architecture - to a large extent it was also a very brutal and savage place.

Great blog, btw. Enjoy checking out the pictures and reading the scholarly descriptions that goes with them!


Patrik Klingborg said...

Björn, unfortunately not, what is it?

Jerry, thanks for your comment, it's very much appreciated! I'm glad that you enjoyed the blog.

chorton said...

The belief that the statue is a direct representation of an actual person is a common misconception. The sculpture was created during the hellenistic period,a period of decline in Greece. The statue represents this by portraying a weary and beaten boxer, instead of a confident and powerful hero. The transformation in the art depicts what the artist is trying to portray.

former amateur boxer said...

Don't judge this boxer on standards incorporatd into boxing since the 1800s. During the ancient era Spartans (not so much Athenians) took children from their parents at birth to raise as soldiers to protct the City state. By the time thaey were around 10 years old they had fought in battles. It was a brutal time in Greece and Europe.