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lieved the statue had been previously finished with the rasp and file; and that the marks of the chisel were made afterwards, to give the appearance of facility to the execution; and at the same time a roughness to the surface, which was more favourable to the general effect of the figure, than if it had been left quite smooth."
Many modern sculptors have endeavoured to restore the arm of the principal figure, but without success. Michael Angelo attempted it, but not feeling himself competent to the undertaking, left it unfinished. Bernini also undertook the task, but did not dare to work in marble. The restoration in plaster, as now visible iu the Museum, at Paris, was done after a model by Girardon.
Of this celebrated group Baccio Bandioelli, made a copy, in marble, of the same size, and flattered himself he had surpassed the original; but he was alone in that opinion. Titian caricatured it, by drawing three monkies in the same action; and when Michael Angelo was asked what he thought of it, he replied, " he who follows must be behind; and he who himself does not know how to do well, cannot avail himself with any effect of the ability of others."
"The Laocoon," say Winckelman, "offers to us the spectacle of nature, plunged into the deepest affliction, under the image of a man, who exerts, against its attack, all the powers of his soul. While his sufferings enlarge his muscles, and contract his nerves, you behold his mind strongly pictured on his wrinkled forehead; his bosom oppressed by an impeded respiration, and the most distressing restraint, rise with vehemence to enclose and concentrate the agony by which it is agitated. The groans that he stifles, and the breath he confines, dis
elude our remarks with the following extract from Virgil, descriptive of the subject:
"A greater omen, and of worse portent -j
Did our unweary minds with fear torment, >
Concurring to produce the dire event \ J
Laocoon, Neptune's priest by lot that year,
With solemn pomp then sacrificed a steer;
When (dreadful to behold!) from sea we spy'd "i
Two serpents, rank'd abreast, the seas divide, >
And smoothly sweep'd along the swelling tide. *
Their flaming crests above the waves they show:
Their bellies seem to burn the seas below:
Their speckled tails advance to steer their course,
And now the sounding shore the flying billows force.
And on the strand, and now the plain, they held.
Their ardent eyes with bloody streaks were fill'd:
Their nimble tongues they brandish'd as they came,
And lick'd their hissing jaws, that sputter'd flame.
We fled amaz'd; their destin'd way they take,
And to Laocoon and his children make:
And first around the tender boys they wind,
Then with their sharpen'd fangs their limbs and bodies grind.
The wretched father, running to their aid
With pious haste, but vaifi, they next invade:
Twice round his waist their winding volumes roll'd;
And twice about his gasping throat they fold.
The priest thus doubly chok'd—their crests divide,
And tow'ring o'er his head in triumph ride.
With both his hands he labours at the knots;
His holy fillets the blue venom blots:
His roaring fills the flitting air around.
Thus, when an ox receives a glancing wound,
He breaks his bands, the fatal altar flies,
And with loud bellowings breaks the yielding skies.
Their tasks perform'd. the serpents quit their prey,
And to the tow'r of Pallas make their way:
Couch'd at her feet, they lie protected there,
By her large buckler, and protended spear.
Amazement seizes all: the gen'ral cry
Proclaims Laocoon justly doom'd to die,
Whose hand the will of Pallas had withstood,
And dar'd to violate the sacred wood.