Aristodikos Kouros
from Attica
Height 6 feet 5 inches
c. 500 BCE
(National Archaeological Museum, Athens)

Some thirty years on, around 500 BCE, the Aristodikos kouros, so called since it was the gravemarker of Aristodikos, is yet more naturalistic. Beginning to overcome the plank-like shape of earlier kouroi. Body assumes a more natural form, with a more realistic rendering of anatomical detail in the treatment of the hair (no longer the stylized, bead-like hair of earlier kouroi), the arms moving away from the flanks (no longer twisted forward), and sinew and bone and knee and shin made more realistic. However, despite the naturalistic forms and details, figure still posed in the stiff, frontal fashion.

The sculptors were evidently not emulating the bodies they observed around them, though their strivings to find more compelling and worthy images to represent both gods and men were leading them away from superhuman scale and abstract linear form. The final step in this sequence of kouroi in creating a natural-looking figure was to change the pose. This step marks the transition out of the Archaic period and into the Classical.

© Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe