Biography of Early Classical Greek Sculptor Noted for Discobolus, Discus-Thrower.

Pin it

Discus Thrower (Discobolus)
Roman copy of an original
High Classical Greek sculpture
by Myron (425 BCE).
National Roman Museum, Rome.

For analysis of an important
work of Hellenism, see:
Venus de Milo (c.130-100 BCE).

Myron (active 480-440 BCE)

Myron was one of the greatest sculptors of Early Classical Greek sculpture. He was famed for his sculptures of powerful athletes and life-like animals. He produced mainly bronze sculpture and was considered a versatile and innovative artist in his time. His most famous statue, which exists only in the form of copies by Roman artists, is the famous bronze figure of a disc thrower known as Discobolus (c.425 BCE).


Born in Eleutherae, a small town on the ancient borders of Boeotia and Attica, Myron lived most of his life in Athens. Little is known of his life, and what we do know, comes from ancient literary sources - primarily from the 1st century writer Pliny. According to Pliny, Myron absorbed the art of sculpture from Ageladas of Argos - the same teacher who taught both Phidias (488-431 BCE) and Polykleitos (5th century BCE). Pliny wrote that Myron was the first to achieve life-like representations in figurative sculpture. However true this statement is, it is fair to say that Myron mastered his craft and was gifted in his ability to create movement, harmony and naturalism.

For a list of the world's top 100
3-D artworks, by the best sculptors
in the history of art, see:
Greatest Sculptures Ever.

For biographies of the main
artists known to us from the
sculpture of ancient Greece
please see the following:
Skopas (Active 395-350 BCE)
Lysippos (c.395-305 BCE)
Praxiteles (Active 375-335 BCE)
Leochares (Active 340-320 BCE)

See: History of Sculpture.

For details of Greek art, see:
Daedalic Style Sculpture (650-600)
Archaic Greek Sculpture (600-500)
Early Classical Greek Sculpture
Late Classical Greek Sculpture
Hellenistic Greek Sculpture (323-27)
Greek Pottery (Black/Red-Figure)

For different types of 3-D
carving/casting, see:
Stone Sculpture
Granite, limestone, sandstone
and other rock-types.
Marble Sculpture
Pentelic, Carrara, Parian marbles.

Myron's major period of activity was during the period of time following the Greek victories over the Persians in 480-79 BCE, when commissions were rife. His statues are said to have been scattered throughout the Greek world with some concentrated in the Acropolis in Athens. As far as is known, Myron worked exclusively in Bronze, except for one statue of Hekate, which was forged in wood.

Discobolus: The Discus-Thrower

Although Myron sculpted representations of gods and heroes, he became famous primarily for his representations of athletes. Discobolus, was a representation of a disc-thrower - Myron captured the moment when one movement is completed and the athlete pauses for the next - he has just completed his backswing, his arm is outstretched and he is about to commence the forward swing.

The work was widely admired for capturing the instability of an instant motion and combining it with a composition of balance and harmony. The statue was designed within a single plane, which means it was only meant to be seen from the sides. The original no longer exists but there is an excellent marble copy, made in Roman times, now housed at the Museo Nazionale Romano, Rome. Pliny also mentions a bronze casting of Ladas the Runner (c.476 BCE), an athlete who fell dead at the moment of victory. He was an Olympic winner of the footrace and was depicted poised on tiptoe at the start of the race. No copies have been identified. Another popular work was that of Lycinus (c.448 BCE) an Olympiad winner.

Myron's Bronze Cow

According to Pliny, another famous work in antiquity was Myron's cow - which was so life-like it was mistaken for real. The cow however seemed to have earned his fame for acting as a peg on which epigrams were hung. No information or copies remain, so we have no idea as to the animal's pose, but we do know that it stood in the marketplace in Athens. He also mentions a dog that was cast in bronze. Unlike other artists at the time, Myron does not appear to have established an art school, his only known pupil being his son Lykios.

Note About Sculpture Appreciation
To learn how to judge Greek classical sculptors like Myron, see: How to Appreciate Sculpture. For later works, please see: How to Appreciate Modern Sculpture.

Myron achieved fame in his time, comparable only to that of Polykleitos. Ancient critics held the opinion that Myron’s skill just fell short of full classical perfection, while, early Imperial Roman writers consistently refer to Myron as one of the greatest Greek sculptors, a sign that his contemporary reputation remained high. See also: Greek Architecture.

Note: For another influential Greek sculptor from the 5th century BCE see: Callimachus (432-408 BCE).

• For information about classical art from Ancient Rome, see: Roman Art.
• For more about the development of High Classical Greek sculpture, see: Homepage.

Plastic Art
© All rights reserved.