Marble statue of a wounded warrior

Period: Mid-Imperial, Antonine

Date: ca. A.D. 138–181

Culture: Roman

Medium: Marble

Dimensions: H. 87 in. (220.98 cm)

Classification: Stone Sculpture

Credit Line: Hewitt Fund, 1925

Accession Number: 25.116


The subject of this statue has not been identified with certainty. The warrior held a shield on his left arm and probably a spear in his right hand, and he stands with his feet carefully placed on a sloping surface. The figure must have some association with the sea because a planklike form surrounded by waves is carved on the plinth of a second copy in the British Museum, London. It has been suggested that he is the Greek hero Protesilaos, who ignored an oracle's warning that the first Greek to step on Trojan soil would be the first to die in battle. This statue might represent him descending from the ship ready to meet his fate. Following the discovery of a wound carved in the right armpit, the figure was reinterpreted as a dying warrior falling backward and identified as a famous statue by the sculptor Kresilas. Many other identifications have been suggested to explain the unusual stance and the unique iconography of this statue and of the copy in London, but none has been generally accepted.