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Images Of Alexander Essay

1858 words - 8 pages

The Persistence of the Image of Alexander the Great in Sculpture and Art Alexander the Great left behind a legacy that gave his name nothing short of its deserved praise. Even after his death, the attributes and accolades of Alexander continued to creep into folklore, sculpture, and architecture, with many leaders using the likenesses of him to further their own gains and legitimize their power. Some minted their images onto coins that bore his name, while Ptolemy even went so far as to steal Alexander's body in order to strengthen his claims to power. In the second century AD, as the Roman empire extended into northern Africa and Asia, much as Alexander's had done, the trend ...view middle of the document...

In accordance to with Hellenistic tradition and the way in which Alexander wanted to portray himself, the sculptor displays him heroically nude, with his torso muscles especially accentuated. The accentuation of these muscles creates a sense of tension throughout the piece, as if Alexander has just been in battle, and hence adding to the sense that he is in action.The Statue of Emperor Trajan depicts the emperor possessing similar Alexandrian features with a hint of traditional Roman influence. The statue, sculpted in 120 AD and composed of marble, portrays Trajan with his head slightly tilting right and his glazed eyes looking upward toward the heavens, embodying the attributes that Alexander's sculptors often depicted in their sculptures of him. Additionally, Trajan's right foot protrudes in the same contrapposto pose. Furthermore, the emperor's hairstyle bears a resemblance to Alexander's; as Beiber points out, however, "[t]his attempt of imitating Alexander looks rather ridiculous in the sober and ugly Roman features" (Sourcebook 95). Though Trojan's coiffure does not possess quite the untamed style of Alexander, this incorporation of Greek hairstyle is significant, as Romans were traditionally portrayed with stately and cropped styles. As Trajan had expanded the Roman Empire into the East and was a leader loved by his men, it is only appropriate that his likeness should somewhat resemble that of Alexander.While the posture and hairstyles of the two are nearly identical, there exist several key differences that illustrate the differences in purpose that each sculpture served. The most obvious difference between the two pieces is the scale that each artist sculpted in. The statuette of Alexander with Lance is just that-a statuette no more than five inches tall. However, Trajan's statue is colossal in size, towering over the viewers and clearly constructed to be larger-than-life. As with most art, form must fit function, and clearly this is displayed in the sizes of these pieces. While many pieces bearing Alexander's name or attributes were used as propagandistic means to the rulers who spread them, this particular piece of Alexander with Lance is more practical than it is political. Instead of displaying Alexander as larger-than-life, the piece's purpose is more of that of a household item, allowing Alexander's supporters to display their admiration in the convenience of their own homes. The original Lysippos statue from which this statue was modeled was probably comparable in size to that of Trajan, but as the statuette was created many years after Alexander's death, the new model was not intended to fulfill the imposing commemorative ends that pieces often take on when created during or near the times of their associated rulers. This is exactly how Trajan's statue is presented to the public. Sculpted but a few years after Trajan's death, the statue clearly was a commemoration for the great emperor, and thus its size served as a reminder to...

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