Also found in: Dictionary, Wikipedia.
Related to Polyclitus: Praxiteles, Scopas, Polykleitos, Lysippos


Polykleitos, Polycletus, or Polyclitus (pŏlĭklīˈtəs, –klēˈ–, –klī–), two Greek sculptors of the school of Argos. Polykleitos, the elder, fl. c.450–c.420 B.C., was a contemporary of Phidias. Born either in Sicyon or Argos, he became head of the Argive school. He worked principally in bronze and made a number of statues of athletes. His most famous statue embodied his ideal of physical perfection. This “canon of Polykleitos,” which emphasized a counterbalance of tension and relaxation through shoulders and hips, known as chiastic balance, became the standard of proportions for sculptors. It is best known through a copy, the Doryphorus or Spear-Bearer (Naples). Other sculptures representing his athletic, muscular, square-headed type, preserved through copies, are the Diadumenus (National Mus., Athens), a man binding a fillet about his head, and an Amazon. Another of his works praised by ancient writers was a gold and ivory Hera for a temple at Argos; now known only from Pausanias' description and from representations on Roman coins. No recognized originals by Polykleitos exist today. Polykleitos, the younger, worked in the 4th cent. B.C. Although he was also a sculptor of athletes, his greatest fame was won as an architect. He designed the great theater at Epidaurus.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(also Polyclitus of Argos; Polycleitus), ancient Greek sculptor and art theorist of the late fifth century B.C.

Polyclitus was one of the leading representatives of high classicism. His statues, executed mainly in bronze, have been lost and are known only from copies and from descriptions by writers of antiquity. Two fragments have been preserved from the artist’s canon of proportions. Influenced by Pythagoreanism, Polyclitus sought to substantiate and put into practice the law of ideal proportions, which he expressed as the proportions between various parts of the beautiful, harmoniously formed human body.

The statue Doryphorus (Spear Bearer, c. 440 B.C.) is the embodiment of the sculptor’s artistic principles. The Doryphorus represents a balance between the plastically opposite states of external serenity, hidden movement, and inner tension. Similar principles characterize Polyclitus’ later works, including the Wounded Amazon (c. 440–430 B.C.) and Diadumenos (Youth Wearing a Fillet of Victory, c. 420–410 B.C.). The latter work, which is more free in composition, may have been influenced by Phidias. Polyclitus also produced colossal chryselephantine statues, for example, the one of Hera for the Temple of Hera near Argos.

Possible historical authenticity and mythological idealization are combined so organically in Polyclitus’ work that the actual subject of his statues are unclear in many ways. Some scholars identify the Doryphorus as Achilles and the Diadumenos as Apollo or Paris. Polyclitus had many pupils and followers up to the period of the Roman Empire. Lysippus considered himself to be a student of Polyclitus.


Nedovich, D. S. Poliklet. Moscow-Leningrad, 1939.
Miron i Poliklet. [Album. Introductory article by G. Sokolov.] Moscow, 1961.
Lorenz, T. Polyklet. Wiesbaden, 1972.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


, Polycleitus, Polycletus
5th-century bc. Greek sculptor, noted particularly for his idealized bronze sculptures of the male nude, such as the Doryphoros
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
First, Polyclitus's statue, like others in his own corpus (and like the legendary ones of Daedalus), appears to be "moving," just about to step off the pedestal and into the observer's space.
My argument is that all anecdotes of the canon work like Polyclitus's dual Canon, a zero-sum force-budget of corpus and anthology.
Nevertheless, like "canon" in Polyclitus, two millennia before the nominal appearance in 1768 in Ruhnken, the concept of"anthology" had been fully formed long before Diogenianus applied the term.
Helius, Narcissus, Patrobius, Petinus and Polyclitus: Dio 64.3.4; Plut.
However, these mutations of the body are more idealizations than mutilations, more along the lines of those practiced by Polyclitus than by Jeffrey Dahmer.
Since then, tens of other marbles have been found there, many of them Roman versions of classical Greek works, such as Polyclitus's Wounded Amazon, the caryatids from the Erechtheum in Athens and Praxiteles' Aphrodite of Knidos.
A sarcophagus fragment from Grottaferrata showing part of the Indian Triumph of Bacchus was exhibited beside a workshop sheet with studies of the same figures, including a rearing horseman in a pose similar to that of Psyche in the socalled Bed of Polyclitus --toes and facial profile facing 180 degrees in opposite directions (Ambrosiana, inv.
Thanks to the long Peloponnesian war (431-404 BC), a hiatus of a generation intervened between the classical age of Phidias and Polyclitus, from 465, and the appearance of Praxiteles, Scopas and Lysippus.
Lysippus did not show him a head by Myron, arms by Praxiteles, a chest by Polyclitus. Rather with his own eyes would Chares see the master fashioning all the parts; the works of the other sculptors he could if he wished study on his own initiative."(14) Baxandall uses Vergerio's letter to illustrate his contention that humanist writing on the arts is most usefully interpreted within the conventions of its genre -- here as a polished periodic sentence on the hallowed subject of exemplaria.