Other examples of heroes and athletes:

  •  Michelangelo’s David. While he displays sufficient muscle mass to convincingly defeat Goliath, he is static, frontal, posing for the artist.
  • Rubens’ Raising of the Cross. Christ is obviously posed on the cross, held in place by three nails. He is overloaded with muscles with the potential to perform, but he is there to be seen, not to act. He is the hero. The executioners do maximize the potential of their muscles. Holding ropes or the cross itself, these men do strain to raise the cross. Back, arm, thigh, and calf muscles bulge. They push off the ground with their feet and angle their bodies (diagonals suggest action) for maximum effect. The executioners are athletes.



Antonio del Pollaiuolo’s engraving depicting the Battle of Ten Nude Men, c. 1460, displays bodies in gladiatorial combat. The combatants swing their swords, hatchets and daggers in a life-or-death battle. The artist tried to emphasize muscle groups that would be tensed, tightened, or activated during such conflict. Did he succeed? While the figures have muscles on top of muscles, they are improperly placed or depicted of the wrong shapes. Also, though very muscular, they are very light weight and slim in proportions. Their bodies are so light that they seem to float across the ground, rather than being firmly anchored on the ground. Due to these inaccuracies and very delicate engraving technique, the combatants are posed heroes, as if engaged in a choreographed ballet.