“Dying Galata” and the realism of details

Galata morente, Roma, Musei Capitolini - Dying Galata, Rome, Capitoline Museums

The marble “Dying Galata” now in Rome’s Capitoline Museums is a Roman replica of an original bronze statue attributed to Epigonus, a Hellenistic sculptor from Pergamum, who likely created it in the first half of the 3rd century BC.

The valiant warrior belonged to a people of Celtic origin, the Galatians, who after living in Thrace (the area between current Greece, Bulgaria, and European Turkey), moved to a region in Central Anatolia – near today’s Ankara – in the 3rd century BC, renaming it Galatia.

The King of Pergamum, Attalus I Soter (269 BC-197 BC), declared war to the Galatians when they started imposing taxes without anyone rebelling. They were defeated, and victory was celebrated also with this statue.

Some even say they were able to define Galata’s cause of death thanks to the realism and fine details in the statue: “Blood trickles from a relatively small wound placed in a critical spot, between the ribs, near the diaphragm. The warrior is sitting on his shield, and is resisting physical failure, resting on his arm; muscles are giving up and his head is heavy; his face expresses resignation and pain, and gives the viewer a glimpse of inevitable death as it nears. According to our modern knowledge, the man must have had an open pneumothorax (presence of air or gas in the pleural space) and suffered of acute respiratory distress. It is to use his unwounded left lung, after all, that he is resting on his right arm” (M. Grmek-D. Gourevitch, “Le malattie nell’arte antica”, Giunti, Florence 2000).

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June 11, 2015

“Dying Galata” and the realism of details

Rome, Capitoline Museums
Piazza del Campidoglio, 1
+39 06 0608