DAMOPHON AND HIS WORK
Room B is devoted mainly to the works by the Messenian sculptor Damophon which were mainly found in the Asklepieion. Damophon, son of Philippos of Messene, is the most famous sculptor of the mature Hellenistic period in southern Greece. He devoted himself to making statues exclusively of gods and heroes. In contrast with the more than forty sculptors known from the end of the 4th to the end of the 3rd century BC and later, who mostly made portraits, no portrait statue is known amongst the works attributed to Damophon. His idealistic conception of the art of statuary was completely alien to the realistic demands of statues of mortals. He worked mainly in marble, though also in wood and bronze. In his marble works, which were normally colossal, he occasionally employed the technique of the acrolithic statue, he also employes the technique of 'piecing' - that is of separately worked pieces of marble which were joined with the aid of metal clamps and stucco. Thanks to the traveller Pausanias, who held the art of Damophon in great esteem, we know of at least fifteen works by him which were erected in sanctuaries at four Peloponnesian cities.
Herakles of Thebes
Marble head larger than life-size, badly worn. Work of Damophon.
Marble head of Apollo
Work of Damophon.
Statues of two priestesses of Artemis. Roman copies
Found in the Artemision of the Asklepieion. They depict girls wearing identical long chitons girt high under the breasts. Parents dedicated statues of their daughters in the sanctuary after they had taken part in the initiation ceremonies. One of the torsoes belongs to a girl wearing bracelets on her left wrist, and holding a xoanon of Artemis in her left. (1st c. B.C).
Relief of the Dioskouroi (Early 3rd century BC)
The worship of the Dioskouroi at Messene is confirmed by this damaged votive relief, which depicts the Dioskouroi in a well-known type. The twins are shown nude standing beside their horses holding a spear in their left hand and the bridle with their right, and placed heraldically to right and left of an omphalos or symbol of the earth's navel. The cult of the Dioskouroi at Messene is also attested epigraphically.
Stone Herm of Herakles
Limestone herm, (lower part missing), with large integral pseudo-arms. Found fallen in front of the fourth column of the west stoa of the Gymnasium. It depicts Herakles wearing a lionskin. The front legs of the lion are tied in a knot. The generally severe expression of the hero-god and the details of the facial features and coiffure give it a conservative naive Archaising expression that may be attributed partly to the nature of the work and partly to the local Messenian workshop in which it was manufactured during the 3rd century BC.