Hagesandros, Polydoros, and Athanadoros. The Laocoön Group.  Ca. 50 AD.  Height: 7 feet, 10 1/2 inches.

        Many of the Hellenistic characteristics exemplified by the Pergamum frieze -- a work on a grand, even grandiose scale, intended to impress a wide public -- occur in freestanding pieces such as The Laocoön Group.  This famous work, uncovered in 1506 in the ruins of Nero's Golden House, shows the Trojan priest Laocoön being punished by the gods for his attempt to warn his people against bringing into their city the wooden horse left by the Greeks.  To silence the priest, Apollo sends two sea serpents to strangle him and his sons.

        Superbly composed, the three figures are bound together by the sinuous curves of the serpents; they pull away from one another under the agony of the creatures' coils and fangs.  Note the similarity between Laocoön's head and the head of the giant Alcyoneus on the Pergamum frieze.  Vatican Museums, Rome.