The Cleveland Apollo: Apollo Sauroktonos (Lizard-Slayer) or Apollo the Python-Slayer

c. 350–200 BCE
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attributed to Praxiteles

(Greek, Athenian, c. 400–330 BCE)
Base: 0.5 x 47.3 x 40.7 cm (3/16 x 18 5/8 x 16 in.); Overall: 150 x 50.3 x 66.8 cm (59 1/16 x 19 13/16 x 26 5/16 in.)
Weight: 52.2 kg
Location: 100 1916 Lobby
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Did You Know?

The Cleveland Apollo is the only surviving large-scale bronze sculpture of its type, Apollo Sauroktonos (the Lizard-Slayer).


The Cleveland Apollo has been called both Lizard-Slayer (Sauroktonos) and Python-Slayer. The first name comes from the Roman author Pliny the Elder (23–79 CE), who noted in describing bronze works made by the Athenian sculptor Praxiteles (active around 370–330 BCE), “the youthful Apollo [is] known as the Sauroktonos because he is aiming an arrow at a lizard [Greek sauros] which is stealing toward him.”

Scholars have long connected this description with artworks showing the young Greek god Apollo in a distinctive pose and hairstyle, standing on his right leg and leaning to his left. In more completely preserved versions, Apollo reaches toward a tree with his left arm and seems to take aim at a lizard. The Cleveland Apollo shows the adolescent god similarly posed and coiffed, making it an important addition to the Apollo Sauroktonos group—the only surviving large-scale bronze sculpture of the type. The young Greek god Apollo, identifiable by his distinctive hairstyle and pose, stands on his right leg and leans to his left, probably toward a now-lost tree. Although now separated, the left forearm and hand survive, together with an unusual lizard-like creature, perhaps drawn from the world of myth. A flat bronze base also remains, though it may be a later adaptation. A tree or other support has been lost, probably smaller than in the marble versions.

Given its material and very high artistic quality—note the lifelike hair, fingernails, and inlaid copper lips and nipples—more than one scholar has suggested that the Cleveland Apollo could be the very sculpture seen by Pliny. Some have called the sculpture “Python-Slayer,” seeing the oddly shaped serpentine creature with asymmetrical legs as the mythical Python killed by Apollo in establishing his sanctuary at Delphi. But technical details may explain some of the asymmetry, and no other specific evidence connects it to Delphi. Most scholars would retain the name Sauroktonos (Lizard-Slayer) for the Cleveland Apollo, even as some debate whether it was made by Praxiteles himself or a later follower.
The Cleveland Apollo: Apollo Sauroktonos (Lizard-Slayer) or Apollo the Python-Slayer

The Cleveland Apollo: Apollo Sauroktonos (Lizard-Slayer) or Apollo the Python-Slayer

c. 350–200 BCE

Praxiteles, Follower

(Greek, Athenian, c. 400–330 BCE)
Greece, Athens

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