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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Torso of an Athlete, Hero (Meleager) or a Young God (Hermes?), after a 4th century BC Greek original in the Polykleitan style
Work Type
4th century BCE
Classical period, Late
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Low-grade marble from northwest Asia Minor or Propontis, with streaks of grey
actual: 59 cm (23 1/4 in.)

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Edward P. Bliss
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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Published Catalogue Text: Stone Sculptures: The Greek, Roman and Etruscan Collections of the Harvard University Art Museums , written 1990

Torso of an Athlete, Hero (Meleager), or a Young God (Hermes?)

Both arms from below the shoulders, and the legs diagonally across the upper thighs, are missing, as are much of the genitals. "Puntelli" remain on both sides near the line of the hips, also at the left shoulder.

The pose and the positions of the three puntelli, as well as the characteristic lines of the shoulder blades and the lower part of the back above the buttocks, all suggest that this small statue was a reduced version of one of the variations on the original Meleager by Skopas. The left arm was lowered and the spear seems to have run beside the shoulder (hence the puntello on the upper arm) rather than against the shoulder (as in the Berlin and Copenhagen versions) or under the armpit (as in the famous Harvard statue). Positions of the right arm behind the lower back vary, and here the arm may have been attached to the support at the right side, although a rough spot suggests a small strut extending from the middle of the right buttock.

Like the Berlin and Harvard versions, this putative Meleager wore no cloak around the shoulders and left arm. The dog may have been beside the tree trunk on the right side, like the Copenhagen copy, and there is no way of telling whether there was another stump surmounted by the boar's head, as in the restoration of the Vatican statue, or even whether the stump at the right was plain, and the hound was at the hero's left. The Vatican copy suggests that only the variations with the cloak flying out at the left side would need a second heavy support, although something was often needed to protect and prop up the spear. This would be especially true when the spear was beside rather than against or under the shoulder.

The Romans loved reduced scale statues of gods and heroes; they could be placed in the gardens of houses or even on tables and in niches within. The Meleager type, whether used for this or another heroic hunter, was popular in palaces, baths, and villas from Italy to Cyprus. Variant versions in marble also featured different attributes and positions. The original bronze statue of the fourth century BC did not need the explanatory props found in the marbles--e.g., a routine decorative statue such as this torso or a masterpiece like the Forbes-Webster Meleager [1926.48].

Cornelius C. Vermeule and Amy Brauer

Publication History

  • George M. A. Hanfmann, Greek Art and Life, An Exhibition Catalogue, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1950), no. 181.
  • Cornelius C. Vermeule III and Amy Brauer, Stone Sculptures: The Greek, Roman and Etruscan Collections of the Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 44, no. 29

Exhibition History

  • Greek Art and Life: From the Collections of the Fogg Art Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Private Lenders, Fogg Art Museum, 03/07/1950 - 04/15/1950
  • 32Q: 3620 University Study Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/11/2015 - 05/10/2015

Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at