Art History Hotties: The Laöcoon Group

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Hagesandros, Athanodoros, and Polydoros, The Laöcoon Group, approx. 79 A.D.
By LIBBY ROHR

There's nothing sexier than a really ripped dude fighting serpents, except for maybe a really ripped naked dude fighting serpents. The guide at the Vatican described this sculpture as "an image of the ideal man" and she wasn't kidding, especially in a modern era where we worship the fit and toned workout gods and top-level athletes. Although Laöcoon was far from an athlete, this statue proved the beauty of muscles and tension in the human form.

Laöcoon's story is a bit steamy itself. As a seer and priest of Apollo, he'd taken a vow of celibacy, but broke it during the Trojan war. Whether it was "the mood" that distracted him or just plain pride, Laöcoon broke his oath to Apollo and had sex with his wife in the god's sacred sanctuary. He also played a part in godly politics by tipping off the Trojans about the wooden horse. The pro-Greek gods would not stand for this insolence. Suffice to say, their wrath came like a wave, literally. It was decided that the best punishment would be to let Poseidon deal with Laöcoon and his sons, thus, two giant serpents rose from the sea and crushed them.

The statue itself was discovered in 1506 and recognized as the statue described by Pliny the Elder. Michelangelo, being an incredibly prevalent artist at this time, was involved in the excitement, as well as the challenge of restoring Laöcoon and his sons' missing arms. The muscular tension in this painting considerably inspired Michelangelo as he incorporated it into his painting of the Sistine Chapel. Many of the figures on the famed ceiling obviously share this same Greek-style musculature.

Between the defined abs, busting pecs, and tough-as-nails biceps, its not hard to see why many find this to be a perfect version of the masculine form. The beard and size also signify manhood and virility. This glorious marble testament to man is a perfect example of the beauty in tension and sexual maturity, and as long as there are art lovers (and straight girls with eyes), I'm sure this statue will continue to be admired for years to come.

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