Welcome to another Sculpture Saturday. Today, the subject is Agias, an ancient Greek poet and athlete. Agias wrote an epic poem in five books about the return of the Greeks from the Trojan War. Although no version of this poem survives, it was well known at the time.

This sculpture, however, celebrates Agias athletic accomplishments in a sport known as pankration. Pankration was a submission sport with few rules that utilized wrestling and boxing techniques. It sounds like the prototype for modern day mixed martial arts events like the Ultimate Fighting Championships

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The inscription with the statue states that Agias was victorious in the pankration at the Olympic games, five times in the games at Nemea, three times in the Pythian games at Delphi, and five times at the Isthmian games.  It is believed Agias victories were probably won in a 10 to 15 year period after 490 BC. 

Agias’ great grandson, Daochos II, erected this sculpture as a votive offering at Delphi between 337 and 333 BC. The statue at Delphi is in the Late Classical style of the sculptor Lysippos. It is thought to be the work of Lysippos or another sculptor and a copy of an earlier bronze statue by Lysippos that Daochos II placed in Pharsalos, the hometown of Agias and Daochos II.

The statue depicts a young, athletic Agias in the nude, which was the usual practice of the day for Greeks of some status. The over life-size statue is made of Parian marble and stands just over two meters in height. Although the sculpture is well preserved, the left hand, right arm and certain other parts (ahem) were lost over the years.

Thanks for stopping by for another Sculpture Saturday. Good luck to all of the athletes competing in the Winter Olympics. It is good that today’s athletes wear clothes when they compete.