Fragmentary Colossal Head of A Youth


This colossal head Greek head from the 2nd century BCE found in a gymnasium at Pergamon in western Turkey and brought by way from the Pergamon in Berlin where he is still on loan in New York at the Metropolitan Museum.

I googled “Fragmentary Colossal Head of A Youth” and found this about him here at Hyperallergic, “There’s speculation,”  writes Allison Meier, “that Alexander the Great is the subject of Head of a Youth,’ the seductive visage similar to many of the idealized portrayals of the young conqueror. This piece was found in a Pergamon gymnasium, the shelter protecting the marble from decay. The soft milkiness of the face is interrupted by a break in the sculpture, severing the head at an angle right below the eyes. Its beauty and violence is a fitting embodiment of the spread of culture by war in the exhibition, and will linger as a striking example of Hellenistic marble after its close.

Assuming that the identity of the youth is, indeed, Alexander the Great, there is more about that in this review by James Romm of the exhibition Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World  here in The New Yorker also from 2016. Romm writes about the “interconnectedness of this age, in which ease of travel and trade, and rising levels of wealth, created a market for fine art and luxury goods across large stretches of three continents.”

“Classical” and, at the same time, “surreal.” The marvelous thing about this figure as he appears to us in his current manifestation is the combination of fresh marble, sheer volume, and the damage done to it.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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2 Responses to Fragmentary Colossal Head of A Youth

  1. There was nothing great about Alexander the “Great”. Except if you consider conquest and violence “great”.

  2. dmf says:
    “Young Australians rejuvenate Israel’s collective living movement with urban communes”

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