Laocoön

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Laocoön

(lāŏk`ōŏn), in Greek mythology, priest of Apollo who warned the Trojans not to touch the wooden horse made by the Greeks during the Trojan War. While he and his two sons were sacrificing to Poseidon at the seashore, two serpents came from the water and crushed them. The Trojans interpreted this event as a sign of the gods' disapproval of Laocoön's prophecy, and they brought the wooden horse into the city. Subsequent events vindicated Laocoön's judgment, however, since the horse was filled with Greeks, who waited until night and then sacked Troy. A magnificent Greek statue by Agesander, Athenodorus, and Polydorus, unearthed in Rome in 1508 and now in the Vatican, shows Laocoön and his sons in their death struggle. This Hellenistic sculpture had an important influence on the artists of the Renaissance.

Laocoön

 

a Trojan priest in ancient Greek mythology.

When the Greeks withdrew from Troy and left outside its walls a huge wooden horse (the Trojan Horse), Laocoön did everything possible to dissuade the Trojans from taking the horse into the city. For this the goddess Athena, who aided the Greeks, sent two serpents against Laocoön and these strangled him and his sons. Laocoön’s death was captured in the sculpture group “Laocoön” by the Rhodian masters, Agesander, Athenodorus, and Polydorus (c. 50 B.C.) and in the second book of Virgil’s Aeneid. Comparison of these two works of art served as the starting point for G. Lessing’s treatise on the laws of fine art and poetry, Laocoön, or The Limits of Painting and Poetry (1766). The myth of Laocoön served as a subject for European painters of the 16th and 17th centuries, such as G. Romano and El Greco.

Laocoön

Trojan priest warns citizens not to accept wooden horse. [Rom. Lit.: Aeneid]
See: Warning
References in periodicals archive ?
9) Lessing's Laokoon is the fundamental intertextual base in the research of intersection of the word and image.
Two hundred years and more after Laokoon, ekphrasis has come under theoretical scrutiny once again.
In Ekphrasis: The Illusion of the Natural Sign Krieger elaborates on his original definition, or "principle," of ekphrasis first found in "The Ekphrastic Principle and the Still Movement of Poetry; or Laokoon Revisited" (written 25 years prior).
Audiences might nevertheless look for some sort of consonance in style or mood: although Henry Fuseli used Lessing's ideas in a Royal Academy lecture in 1801, Laokoon was not translated into English (and then only in part) till the mid-1820s and the standard view in England in the 1800s continued to be the one Lessing objected to, which emphasized the similarity, not the divergence, of poetry and painting.
It then examines poetology and hermeneutics as portrayed in the second edition of the Fragmente and the Kritische Walder (1768), with specific reference to Herder's reception of Lessing's Laokoon.
On the way, she suggests that a comparison of the latter Elegie with Picasso's La Famille des Saltimbanques supports Lessing's challenge in Laokoon to the doctrine of ut pictura poesis, although Rilke's ekphrasis should not be understood as an 'argu[ment] here in favour of poetry and against painting' (p.
Krieger's essay, "Ekphrasis and the Still Movement of Poetry; or Laokoon Revisited" (1967), was reprinted as an Appendix in Ekphrasis, The Illusion of the Natural Sign, 263-288.
This last point raises two issues which have been current in the discussion of painting since Lessing's Laokoon.
Babbitt extended his views beyond literary criticism: Literature and the American College (1908) calls for a return to the study of classical literatures; The New Laokoon (1910) deplores the confusion in the arts created by Romanticism; Rousseau and Romanticism (1919) criticizes the effects of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's thought in the 20th century; On Being Creative (1932) compares the Romantic concept of spontaneity adversely with classic theories of imitation.
Stephen Dedalus describes human existence in time and space as Nacheinander and Nebeneinander --quoting a well-known eighteenth-century theory of art, Lessing's Laokoon.
In his preface to Laokoon (1766), an extended work of literary criticism, Lessing argued that, thanks to these French influences, German literature had embraced false concepts of beauty and ugliness.
There is in this entire book, which rests on the analogous proximity of literature and the visual and plastic arts, only one very slight reference to Lessing, and only one, even slighter, to Winckelmann with whom Lessing took issue in his--I should have thought--indispensable Laokoon.