Uncoiling the Laocoon: Revealing the Statue Group's Significance in Augustan Rome

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2007-12-10

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Since its rediscovery in Rome in 1506, the Laocoon has raised issues regarding its date, its owner, its status as a Roman copy of a Greek original, and which literary account it reflects. It was not until a telling inscription with the names and patronymics of the artists was found on a statue group at Sperlonga that the same atelier working there was found responsible for creating the Laocoon. This led prosopographical experts to date the sculptors' activity to the early decades of the Roman Empire and while this date has been accepted by most scholars of Hellenistic art, the implications of situating the Laocoon in this period has not been fully explored. This thesis examines the statue group in conjunction to other artistic and literary projects under Augustus, and determines that the Laocoon functioned as a symbol of past struggles overcome in order for Rome's glory to be realized.

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