The Vicolo dell' Atleta is a short street in the neighbourhood of Trastevere which takes its name from a remarkable discovery that was made there in 1849, the unearthing of a marble statue known as the Apoxyomenos (now in the Vatican Museums).
The Apoxyomenos is a copy of a famous bronze sculpture (c. 330 BCE) by Lysippus (c. 390 - c. 300 BCE), court sculptor to Alexander the Great. The original is lost, but it is known from its description in Pliny the Elder's Naturalis Historia, which relates that the Roman general Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa installed it in the Baths that he erected in Rome, circa 20 BCE.
Apoxyomenos comes from the Greek verb to clean oneself. Ancient Greek athletes used to scrape off the oils used to anoint the body before competitions with sand and a curved tool known as a strigil.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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