Standing statue of the statesmen Demonsthenes.  He is wearing drapery, and clasping a text.

Hellenistic. Cast of the original in the Vatican Museum, Rome. Roman copy of a Greek bronze original by Polyuktos, c. 280 BCE

This statue is a portrait of the great Athenian statesman and orator Demosthenes (384-322 BCE). Demosthenes spent years advocating against Macedonian imperialism in an attempt to protect Athenian democracy and independence.  As a result, he became a prosecuted political enemy and committed suicide in 322 BCE in order to avoid execution at the hands of the Macedonians and their sympathizers. Forty-two years after his death, once Athens was free of Macedonian control, a bronze statue portrait of Demosthenes by Polyuktos was placed in the Athenian agora.

The original portrait is lost; however, it is known through Roman copies. The original was created during the Hellenistic era and demonstrates an important artistic development – the interest in portraying the inner psychology of an individual in portraiture. Demosthenes is portrayed as an old man. He holds his hands in front of his body and grasps a piece of parchment. His face is wrinkled, and his brow is furrowed. His facial expression is one of concern. The work as a whole conveys Demosthenes’ anxiety and sorrow over the decline of Athenian democracy.

  • Demosthenes
  • ancient greece
  • cast gallery
  • greek
  • hellenistic
  • portrait
  • sculpture