Laocoön and His Sons

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The statue of Laocoön and His Sons, also called the Laocoön Group (Italian: Gruppo del Laocoonte), has been one of the most famous ancient sculptures ever since it was excavated in Rome in 1506 and placed on public display in the Vatican, where it remains. It is very likely the same statue praised in the highest terms by the main Roman writer on art, Pliny the Elder. The figures are near life-size and the group is a little over 2 m (6 ft 7 in) in height, showing the Trojan priest Laocoönand his sons Antiphantes and Thymbraeus being attacked by sea serpents. The group has been called "the prototypical icon of human agony" in Western art,  and unlike the agony often depicted in Christian art showing the Passion of Jesus and martyrs, this suffering has no redemptive power or reward. The suffering is shown through the contorted expressions of the faces (Charles Darwin pointed out that Laocoön's bulging eyebrows are physiologically impossible), which are matched by the struggling bodies, especially that of Laocoön himself, with every part of his body straining.

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