Each epoch’s art is more than just a product of esthetics and creativity. In terms of history, art can be a source of evidence about society and nation that produced it. Thus, comparing between Greek and Roman pieces of sculpture gives an opportunity to understand the way people lived and thought about the world in each of the countries and periods of time. Considering Apollo Belvedere and Aulus Metellus, conclusion can be made that Greek art focuses on physical perfection first of all, and takes mythological figures as the object of art. In contrast, Roman art prefers to make statues of historically meaningful people, i.e. emperors, philosophers, public speakers. Its aim is to present a personality in a realistic way, although this personality is usually outstanding.
Apollo Belvedere sculpture
Apollo Belvedere is created by a Roman sculptor approximately in 150 C.E but in fact this is just a copy of a Greek sculpture of the fourth century B.C.E. The sculpture depicts Apollo, a god of Sun and arts, who belonged both to the Greek and Roman pantheon. He is presented like a young archer to reflect the myth about him overcoming the serpent Python. For this reason the viewer can observe him in motion, there is a special posture and tension in his muscles. He is almost nude, apart from a mantle on his shoulders, so one can see perfection of his body that is a typical approach for Greek sculpture. The traits of his face are ideal and somewhat feminine, his curly hair is marvelous, and even the folders of his mantle is impeccable. Thus, idealism of Greek art and the cult of youth and human body are reflected in this piece of sculpture.
In contrast to youthful Appolo, Aulus Metellus is a middle-aged man who has signs of time on his face. This reveals the fact that Roman sculpture focuses more on realism of the created image. He has wrinkles on his face that demonstrate his life experience and wisdom. As mentioned above, Romans preferred to choose real people to be the objects for copying. The same is true about Aulus Metellus who was an official appointed by an emperor. His clothes are realistic as well, he wears Roman toga which is typical clothing of the corresponding epoch. The moment that is caught in the sculpture is probably one of his public speeches because his raised hand gives this idea. The time of this work’s creation is estimated to be approximately the 3rd century B.C.E. His eye pits are shallow because it is known that Romans often used precious stones in making eyes for sculpture, so they might have been lost or stolen.
Major differences between the two pieces of sculpture
One thing in common about them that the artists intended to create an illusion of motion and they managed to do so. Neither of them looks still but they posture and raised hands place them in a story of events. By looking at them, what happened before the moment and after it. For instance, we can imagine how Appolo made a shot with an arrow that has just left his hands.
Overall, it is clear that Roman and Greek culture had different visions about arts and about sculpture in particular. While the Greek artists intended to create an idealized figure with a focus on youth and perfect physical proportions, the aim of the Romans was different. They attempted to make the sculpture as close and accurate in relation to reality as it could possibly be. Unlike the Greeks who chose mythological figures for their art, Romans preferred historical personalities.