Doryphoros (The "Spear Bearer")

Doryphoros (The “Spear Bearer”)

440 BC

High Classical Period

Roman marble copy from Pompeii in Naples Museum

Original statue was bronze


Roman marble copy of a Greek bronze original

Warrior carrying a spear – possibly Achilles, but no specific features to suggest this.

– Short, wavy hair cut close to the head
– Heavy-muscled torso, showing ‘cuirasse esthétique’
– Very harsh, overdone inguinal ridge
– Stocky, well-developed anatomy.
– Typical Polykleitan combination of a young man’s face with the developed body of an older man.
– Shoulders drop naturally, unlike Kritios Boy, or even the Riace Warriors.
– The very obtrusive/inappropriate tree-trunk is an addition by a Roman copyist.

Pattern provided by hair & chest muscles.

– The statue was made to illustrate Polykleitos’ book, “The Canon”, which claimed that beauty was a matter of mathematical proportion. “Ideal unreality”.
– Head larger & limbs shorter than Riace Warriors.

– Successful portrayal of the body at rest, e.g. details of veins in the arms.
– Relaxed pose (with all the weight on the right leg & the left leg bent).
– Left arm bent at the elbow to hold a spear (real or bronze attachment?).
– Right arm hangs relaxed by side.
– ‘Trailing leg’ technique (implies he’s walking) on the relaxed leg, implies use of contrapposto on the torso.
– Contrapposto was invented by Polykleitos.
– The use of the contracted versus extended torso creates a balance of opposites – ‘dynamic equilibrium’.
– Torso responds to movement of the limbs for 1st time.
– The trailing leg means the feet are no longer in line with each other (on the same plane) as they were with the Riace Warriors.
– Trailing foot moves the statue from 2D (‘severe period’) to 3D.
– Doryphoros still has ‘quadrifacial frontality’ but each side of the statue is now different & interesting.

– A more advanced ‘relaxed pose’
– 1 side of torso is extended (hip down, shoulder up)
– 1 side is contracted (hip up, shoulder down)
– A taut arm & leg (left arm & right leg in Doryphoros) are shown in opposition to a relaxed arm & leg
– Left hand is tensed & raised (holding a spear)
– Head turned in opposite direction to relaxed knee

Idealism of male beauty


– Disengaged look
– Looking away from viewer
– Lacks any individuality (after all, he’s a perfect man, built up by numbers). This is why he became seen as a generic ‘spear-bearer’ rather than an image of a specific person, e.g. Achilles.

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