Frozen Motion: Richard Armitage and the Discobolos of Myron

I’ve been tossing this piece around for a couple of weeks…since watching episode 1 of Berlin Station.   Then I was distracted by a trip to New York to see some play…my account is coming soon.

I’ve been kind of hot and cold about Berlin Station – I’m no TV critic, but for it’s genre, I’ve found the overall pace of the show to be rather slow and it’s plot to be extra convoluted, even for a spy show.   I think the last few episodes have picked it up a bit, so I’m hanging in there.  Who am I kidding – I’d be there to the bitter end as long as Richard Armitage is a part of the cast 

One element that grabbed my attention in Episode 1 was a brief flash of mostly bare Richard Armitage.  Apart from purely prurient interest, this is enticing to me from an artistic perspective since the artistic material I study generally features figures depicted in the buff, and similarly nude shots of Richard Armitage are fairly few and far between.  In case you’ve forgotten it, the scene I’m referring occurs about midway through episode 1.

Pretty dark...pretty grainy, but you get the drift.  (my screen shot)

Pretty dark…pretty grainy, but you get the drift. (my screen shot)

In this scene, Armitage’s character, Daniel Miller has just stepped out of the shower and is bending to pull on his briefs.  The bent position, that long, LOOOONNNNNGGGG length of leg and subtly rippling back reminded me immediately of the motion that is frozen by Myron in his iconic Discobolos (Δισκοβόλος – Discus Thrower)

Discobolus of Myron

Discobolus of Myron (Source)

All of the examples pictured are Roman copies in marble of the Greek original.  Like so many ancient Greek sculptures, the original piece by Myron was sculpted in bronze and has been lost to time.  What we can piece together from the copies is that the original belonged stylistically to the very end of the Severe Style of the 5th century BC.

Myron was a contemporary of the sculptors Pheidias and Polykleitos and was well known for his frequent depictions of athletes.  Here he has captured the discus thrower in mid-motion…the viewer can almost feel the arrested energy of the athlete.  The Discobolos is a masterpiece of both frozen motion as well as the ideals of beauty, symmetry and proportion of 5th century Athens.


Laying the images side by side for comparison, a couple of things become evident:

  1.  While not exactly the same pose, I’m again struck by the general similarity of the frozen motion.
  2. Richard Armitage is clearly not conformant with the proportional canon as idealized by the ancient Greeks…his legs are much longer and his torso somewhat shorter.               2.1:  Who cares?  🙂  

**Happily, I capped the scene right before I had to look away in horror as Daniel picked up the towel he is standing on in the cap above and used the surface recently in contact with the bathroom floor to dry his hair.  ICK cubed.**

18 comments on “Frozen Motion: Richard Armitage and the Discobolos of Myron

  1. Guylty says:

    OMG, I will never get that image out of my head now!!!!! Obscura – the discobolus of Myron is exactly the little bronze statuette which I bought in Greece as a souvenir. It was meant to remind me of our AHA trip there – and now it will bring up rather sinful thoughts instead. (Actually, not complaining – thanking you.)
    Interesting observation about the difference in body size. Longer legs, shorter torso – I wonder whether that has any evolutionary significance.
    As for BS – totally with you. I am watching this to the bitter end, and at the moment, I am not really complaining because the last two episodes (5+6) were good, after a looooong, tough start. Oh, and talking of ep. 5. Don’t tell me you don’t have a Classic Greek piece of art in mind when it comes to RA’s extremely beautiful, symmetrically muscular back… (Really, I am just giving you another excuse to screen cap and post porn…

    • obscura says:

      LOL! You are quite welcome!!

      The canon of proportions is such an idealized thing…I don’t know if there has ever been a human alive who actually fit what was visually perfect to the ancient Greeks. Cue 2500 years of body dissatisfaction.

      Ep 5 display of epic back acting?? Getting there!

      • Guylty says:

        Yes. That’s all I need to know. You can always extend that lecture that Prof Obscura once upon a time gave RA when he was researching the gender relations of ancient Rome…

  2. Esther says:

    Excellent comparison! 🙂 🙂

  3. jholland says:

    Very cool. And props to Richard Armitage for comparing so favorably to a glorious work of art. Not many mortals can even remotely approach some of those statues. And I admit I did have that thought (peaches almost familiar) while admiring Hermes and the Infant Dionysus recently… =)

  4. Great cap! And LOL! I had the same “ick” feeling when Daniel/Richard dried himself off with the towel from the floor. I wonder if that is a guy thing? And he put his briefs on before he was dry. But heck! So gorgeous! And as always, love your connections to ancient artifacts! Thanks!

  5. Hariclea says:

    So thankful for the scientific evidence! I need science to validate such suspicious and prove the truth 🙂 I i definitely need more proof on and issue Guylty was highlighting 🙂

    If i didn’t know better i would almost suspect photoshop of producing such a leg and back 🙂
    I love the discobolos and the motion in it! but i have to say the real life imitator has one up on him!

    Excitedly awaiting our next lesson.

  6. zan says:

    Oh, Professor, you are so thorough in your visual comparison. Thank you! Looking forward to the next lesson. 😉

  7. Servetus says:

    I don’t think I’d ever looked at the Greek concept from the rear or side — now I see what you were talking about — that’s a stunning similarity.

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