The Motya Charioteer

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41w" sizes="(max-width: 800px) 100vw, 800px" />Explanations to date concerning this marvellous figure are inadequate.
What precisely is it? Where did it come from? And what date is it?

The Motya Charioteer stood for six weeks until the middle of September in the large gallery housing the Parthenon pediments and frieze in the British Museum. It was worth making a special effort to see it more than

once as it is among few great works – it is reproduced as standard in most of the better literature of classicism – of ancient art to visit London in recent times. Certainly nothing else in the Cultural Olympiad – so lavishly praised google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; by those who organised it and their dutiful footsoldiers – could touch it for sculptural virtuosity and immediate aesthetic impact. The time required to take in this figure

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properly far exceeded the twenty minutes needed
to dawdle through Damien Hirst’s retrospective at Tate Modern – that institution’s imaginative and unexpected contribution to the art events stapled to the Olympics’ coattails. Additionally the Motya Charioteer was given free of charge.

This was no off-the-shelf piece like so many antique sculptures in so many museums. On the contrary, it looked to be

discover. The material is pale yellow limestone whose origin is described vaguely as “Greek or Turkish” – modern analysis can surely be more specific than this.

It was unearthed in

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1979 on the tiny island of Motya off the western coast of Sicily close to Marsala where it is housed
in a
regional museum from which it is rarely loaned. Universally praised for its beauty, not least in British
newspapers when it first went on show at the Museum, it is already considered a key piece in classical sculpture. It was, curiously, found among mainly architectural rubble. Motya was a longstanding Phoenician city fortress until it was conquered following a destructive siege by a native Sicilian in 397 BC. It was later taken over by the Carthaginians until in 241 BC it was subsumed into an expanding Roman republic. The debris in which the sculpture was found src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"> is said to have been piled up to protect a sanctuary area  of the Phoenician city during the siege of

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397 BC.
Quite why a sculpture of such obvious refinement should have been condemned to a spoil heap is unknown.

Sicily, the google_ad_width = 970; larger part of which was a Greek colony, was an area renowned in the ancient world for its successful charioteers google_ad_slot = "8637400688"; and for its horse breeding. google_ad_height = 90; It has been speculated that this piece was commissioned by a

victorious charioteer in
the Greek part of Sicily to celebrate an //--> important triumph in the hippodrome.

Delphi Charioteer[/caption]

As close examination reveals he put on his garb like a dressing gown, one side drawn over the other and fastened tightly at the top; in contrast the Delphi src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"> charioteer – dated by inscription to 479 BC, and therefore roughly contemporaneous with our more effete fellow //--> – pulled his kit over his head. Though the rear

of driving at breakneck speed a chariot drawn by four horses.

Please correspond your thoughts on this figure to

dg.lee@virgin.net

David Lee

The Jackdaw September 2012

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