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Gallery Text

This statue, from an ancient Roman villa on the coast north of Rome, was part of a sculptural program there that celebrated Greek culture, displaying the sophisticated taste of the wealthy villa owner. The figure’s forceful body, turned head, and emotional facial features recall works attributed to Skopas of Paros, a Greek sculptor of the fourth century BCE. Similar statues, also associated with Skopas, represent the mythical hunter Meleager with boar’s head trophy and dog. As the object under the left armpit is most likely not a hunting spear, this statue probably depicts a different hero, or perhaps a god. It may be a Roman variant of a statue by Skopas, or a Roman work in the style of his time. In Greek fashion, it is composed to be seen in the round, and presents us with a flawless nude male body that is meant to express both physical capability and quality of character.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
After Skopas, Greek (active mid 4th century BCE)
Youthful Hero or God
Other Titles
Former Title: Statue of Meleager, Roman copy of a 4th-century BC Greek original
Work Type
statue, sculpture
1st-2nd century CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe
Find Spot: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Latium
Roman Imperial period
Persistent Link


Level 3, Room 3200, Ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Art, Classical Sculpture
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Physical Descriptions

Parian marble
H. 123 x W. 63 x D. 42 cm (48 7/16 x 24 13/16 x 16 9/16 in.)
weight: 235.4169 kg (519 lbs.)


Recorded Ownership History
Urbano Sacchetti, Santa Marinella, Italy, (1895-1899), sold; to Edith Forbes (Mrs. Kenneth Grant Tremayne Webster), (by 1899-1926), by bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1926.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Mrs. K. G. T. Webster
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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This youthful hero or god is possibly modeled on a Greek statue of the 4th century BCE.

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

Statue of a Young God or Hero, Usually Identified as Meleager, head and torso

The arms from above the elbows and the legs at the upper thighs are missing. The head is broken at the base of the neck. Part of the nose, right ear, and right eyebrow and parts of the hair have been broken off. There is some surface chipping. Puntelli are visible on the left hip, left thigh, and left buttock. The statue was cleaned and the head rejoined in 1961—1962 by the Department of Conservation and Technical Studies at the Harvard University Art Museums.

A good number of copies of the lost original (which was probably in bronze) show a Greek hero, with a head like those of Skopas and a body influenced by the work of Lysippos, either leaning on a staff or with a spear against the left shoulder. The presence of a boar's head by the left foot and, seemingly, a hound at the subject's right side, plus the relationship to Skopas's sculptures for the temple of Tegea, have given rise to the identification of the subject as Meleager, hunter of the Calydonian boar, and the sculptor as Skopas.

While the original and its numerous, variant copies all show an ideal hero and have nothing to do with Greek portraiture, a head from a statue, now at Houghton Hall in Norfolk, was carved as a likeness of a Hellenistic ruler, surely a Seleucid. The marble was a copy of the Antonine period after an original based on Skopas's statue (Oehler, 1980, p. 73, no. 66, pl. 22).

Along with the head and torso of the statue as rejoined (most recently in 1961-1962) came eighteen fragments that may belong to the base (Hanfmann, Pedley, 1964, p. 62). Three fragments joined to form the hero's lower leg. Another fragment is part of the thigh. Two fragments seem to have been parts of Meleager's dog and boar's head and three fragments joined to form what might have been part of the stick(?) on which Meleager leaned and part of a chlamys falling down the left arm.

The chief difference in the Harvard copy and its mate from Santa Marinella in Berlin, one of the touchstones for the group of copies, is that the javelin held in the left hand has been replaced by a staff lodged under the left arm. The feeling is that both the boar's head and the dog were part of the original composition in bronze, the latter beside the hero's right leg and the former by his left foot.

While the more slender and youthful "boy victor" (Narcissus) after Polykleitos could be identified as Adonis when a boar's head was added to the support on which the lad leaned, there is no question here that the more mature, more formidable figure of Meleager was intended, not the least reason being that a Meleager based on this Skopasian statue appears frequently as the protagonist on sarcophagi.

Cornelius Vermeule and Amy Brauer

Publication History

  • Luigi Borsari, "Santa Marinella", Notizie degli Scavi di Antichità, R. Accademia dei Lincei (Rome, Italy, 1895), pp. 195-201, figs. 1,2
  • Salomon Reinach, Répertoire de la statuaire grecque et romaine, Editions Ernst Leroux (Paris, 1908 - 1930), Vol. 4, p. 555, no. 6.
  • George H. Chase, Greek and Roman Sculpture in American Collections, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1924), pp. 86ff., figs. 97, 101
  • George H. Chase and Chandler R. Post, History of Sculpture, Harper and Brothers Publishers (New York, NY and London, England, 1925), pp. 119f., fig. 63
  • Ernst Buschor, "Varianten", Antike Plastik: Walther Amelung zum sechzigsten Geburtstag, Walter de Gruyter and Co. (Berlin and Leipzig, 1928), p. 55, pl. IV
  • Carl Blummel, Romische Kopien griechischer Skulpturen des funften Jahrhunderts v. Chr., H. Schoetz and Co. (Berlin, Germany, 1938), p. 22 (on the findspot of the Harvard and Berlin Meleagers at Santa Marinella)
  • George M. A. Hanfmann, An Exhibition of Ancient Sculpture, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1950), no. 185
  • George M. A. Hanfmann, Greek Art and Life, An Exhibition Catalogue, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1950), no. 185.
  • Georg Lippold, Handbuch der Archaologie VI, 3, Die Griechische Plastik, C. H. Beck (Munich, Germany, 1950), p. 289, note 6
  • Gisela M.A. Richter, The Sculpture and Sculptors of the Greeks, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT, 1950), p. 213, 276
  • Paolo Enrico Arias, Skopas, L'Erma di Bretschneider (Rome, Italy, 1952), p. 128, no. 3, pls. 11, 39
  • Margarete Bieber, The Sculpture of the Hellenistic Age, Columbia University Press (New York, NY, 1961), pp. 24-25, figs. 54, 56-67
  • Dr. Benjamin Rowland, Jr., The Classical Tradition in Western Art, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1963), pp. 33-34, fig. 24
  • George M. A. Hanfmann and John Griffiths Pedley, "The Statue of Meleager", Antike Plastik (1964), III, pp. 61-66, pls. 58-72
  • Andreas Linfert, Von Polyklet zu Lysipp : Polyklets Schule und ihr Verhältnis zu Skopas von Paros (Giessen, 1966)
  • George M. A. Hanfmann, Classical Sculpture, Michael Joseph, Ltd. (London, 1967), p. 320, fig. 158
  • Dorothea Arnold, Die Polykletnachfolge; Untersuchungen zur Kunst von Argos und Sikyon zwischen Polyklet und Lysipp (1969)
  • Dericksen Morgan Brinkerhoff, "Figures of Venus, Creative and Derivative", Studies Presented to George M. A. Hanfmann, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1971), p. 15
  • Herbert D. Hoffmann, Collecting Greek Antiquities, C. N. Potter (New York, NY, 1971), p. 28, fig. 27.
  • Edward Waldo Forbes, Yankee Visionary, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1971), p. 4
  • Jean Charbonneaux, Classical Greek Art, Braziller (New York, NY, 1972), fig. 403
  • Erol Atalay and Sabahattin Turkoglu, "Ein fruhhellenistischer Portratkopf des Lysimachos aus Ephesos", Jahresheften des osterreichischen Archaologischen Instituts (50) (1976), cols. 133, 134, note 12, figs. 7, 8, cols. 135-138, figs. 1, 2
  • Margarete Bieber, Ancient Copies: Contributions to the History of Greek and Roman Art, New York University Press (New York, NY, 1977), p. 41, fig. 86
  • Cornelius C. Vermeule III, Greek Sculpture and Roman Taste, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI, 1977), pp. 15-16, 33
  • Andrew Stewart, Skopas of Paros, Noyes Press (Park Ridge, NJ, 1977), pp. 104-107, 110, 122, 144
  • George M. A. Hanfmann and David Gordon Mitten, "The Art of Classical Antiquity", Apollo (May 1978), vol. 107, no. 195, pp. 362-369, pp. 362-363, fig. 1, pl. 44a
  • Cornelius C. Vermeule III, Greek and Roman Sculpture in America, University of California Press (Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA, 1981), p. 81, no. 51
  • Andrew Stewart, Skopas in Malibu, J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu, CA, 1982), pp. 14-15, fig. 19
  • S. Lane Faison, Jr., The Art Museums of New England, D. R. Godine (Boston, MA, 1982), p. 112, fig. 1, pl. 191, fig. 111
  • Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), p. 107, no. 119, ill.
  • 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. 45, no. 30
  • James Cuno, Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Ivan Gaskell, and William W. Robinson, Harvard's Art Museums: 100 Years of Collecting, ed. James Cuno, Harvard University Art Museums and Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (Cambridge, MA, 1996), p. 110-111, ill.
  • Masterpieces of world art : Fogg Art Museum, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1997
  • John Griffiths Pedley, Griechische kunst und archaologie, Könemann Verlagsgesellschaft (Cologne, 1999), p. 300/fig. 9.32
  • Stephan Wolohojian, ed., Harvard Art Museum/Handbook (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2008)

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
  • Gods in Color: Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/22/2007 - 01/20/2008
  • Re-View: S422 Ancient & Byzantine Art & Numismatics, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 04/12/2008 - 06/18/2011
  • 32Q: 3200 West Arcade, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project
  • Collection Highlights

Related Articles

Verification Level

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