The classic perfection of Riace bronzes

Their great popularity inspired a widespread Italian motto ("beautiful as Riace Bronzes"), these two bronze statues dating to the fifth century BC are a priceless treasure of Belpaese, among the most significant sculptural masterpieces of Greek art and the direct testimony of the great sculptors of the classical age.

Discovered in August 16, 1972 in the stretch of the Ionian Sea in front of the Municipality of Riace Marina by Stefano Mariottini, an avid diver on his vacation in Calabria, during a dive at about 200 m from the coast. The bronzes have been conserved in an exceptional state and are now at the national Museum of Magna Grecia in Reggio Calabria, the city of which have now also become the symbol.

The two statues, called "A" and "B", are 1.98 m and 1.97 m tall and weigh about 160 pounds each, represent two completely naked men who were to be armed with shield, spear and helmet. Their greatness however lies mainly in absolute perfection with which their bodies have been sculptured, the subcutaneous veins to move and thick beard, and strong plastic vigor with which the muscles has been recreated.

For these reasons, the two statues quickly became a symbol of classical perfection and harmony of the human form, immortal works among the flagships of Italy and known throughout the world. Their origin is yet to be ascertained, although since their discovery have been advanced several hypotheses about it: Fidia, Policleto, the bronze sculptor Pythagoras of Reggio are just some of the names proposed to identify the artist, but the name of the sculptor has never been ascertained.

Along with speculation about possible authors also have been formulated hypotheses concerning the identity of the two statues: certainly we are facing in depictions of gods or heroes, because the construction of statues like that was always due to the commissioning of a city or a community that was meant to celebrate their myths or paladins, engaging an artist, for more than a year of work for each statue, and in addition making available a material, bronze, very expensive. Until now, however, the assumptions made about the identity of the characters, is not supported by actual evidence, they have not been able to resolve the questions raised by the two statues, and also their origin remain still much uncertainty, although the most likely hypothesis indicate that the Bronzes came from Delphi, Athens, Olympia or the same Reggio Calabria.

Many questions probably will not get ever answers, but the disarming beauty of these two statues, pinnacle of ancient sculpture and still harmony absolute models of the human body, two immortal works that will remain.