Torso of the god Apollo

A fragment of the upper part of the torso from a complete sculpture of a naked young man. From the worked musculature one can deduct that the figure was standing. The figure cannot be identified from the face – which is missing – or the position of the body, or any attribute, but one can identify the fragment as being from the god Apollo, due to the wavy hair falling over the shoulders and chest.

This sculpture is a mirror version of a sculptural type known at the Apollo of Mantua. This latter is an early form of the Apollo Citharoedus statue type, in which the god holds a cithara in his left arm. This name type comes from the first example discovered and named for its location at Mantua in Italy. The type is represented by neo-Attic copies of the late 1st or early 2nd Century, modelled upon a supposed Greek bronze original from the 2nd quarter of the 5th Century BC in a style like works of Polyclitus but more archaic.

The lost original would have been bronze. In academic texts the teacher of Phidias, Hegias of Athens, is sometimes evoked as the author, but there are no surviving examples of Hegias’ work to judge from.

Apollo is, without doubt, one of the most complicated gods in the classical pantheon. It is very difficult to give a summary of the areas of influence of this divinity as he went through numerous changes and syncretism with other gods of less importance, taking on their iconography and their functions. In this way, Apollo turned into the god of beauty and everything related to this: music, the visual arts, light. Along with these aspects, Apollo is also the god of such dissimilar spheres as healing, prophecy, archery… An example of the process of syncretism that he underwent was his assimilation to Helios, the god of the sun, in the same way that his sister Artemisia was identified with Selene, the goddess of the moon.

His popularity, above all in ancient Rome as a symbol of youth and beauty, made it common to find sculptural images of him decorating gardens and patios of the domus of the richest residents of Roman cities.


More than a dozen Roman period replicas of the Apollo of Mantua are presently known, the most famous are those conserved in the Mantua Museum. A bronze example found at Pompeii is to be found in Naples in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale (inv.5630). Another known replica is to be found in the Fogg Museum (University of Harvard), and another in the Louvre in Paris. This piece was part of the Bibliotèque Mazarine and entered the Louvre collection in 1871.


- CONGDON, L. and CONGDON, O. K. The Mantua Apollo of the Fogg Art Museum. American Journal of Archaeology 67.1. 1963. pp. 7 – 13.

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