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The “Kouroi” of Naxos

One of the most interesting sightseeing of Naxos is three “Kouroi”, that is to say statues of young men, left unfinished at the place where once the artists had started to sculpt them. All three statues are dated in the Archaic period (7th – 6th centuries b.C.). Two of them lie at Flerio, near the village of Melanes, at a distance of some 9 kilometers far from the town of Naxos (Chora), whereas the third and bigger one is found near the village of Apollonas, some 35 kilometers far from Chora.

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Only one of the statues at Flerio is easily accessible. It lies on a field full of olive trees, now property of Kondylis’ family, at the same place where the sculpture worked it. The statue is dated in the 7th century b.C. and it would be some 6,5 meters high. Due to its impressive size the statue was called “Hellen” (“Greek”).

The Kouros at Apollonas, dated in the 6th century b.C. is much more impressive. From what we see today it would be some 10 meters high and according to some scholars it would present Dionysus, the god of wine. The statue lies at the entrance of an old quarry, pretty close to the village. The size and the shape of the statue can be perceived only from a certain distance; due to its dimensions, if we are very close, we would think that it is just a huge piece of marble. It has been suggested that possibly the statue was left unfinished when cracks appeared in the material, which would not permit its realization as planned. Thus, it had been left in site.

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It is possible that the other two statues were left unfinished for the same reasons. Some scholars have suggested that the statues were never realized because of the death of the people that had ordered them, or because some extraordinary facts interrupted the process. According to ancient texts, Lygdamis, the tyrant of Naxos, when seized power, he confiscated all the orders for statues that wealthy people of Naxos had given to the quarries. According to some other written sources, later on, Lygdamis had sold some of them to the initial owners.

It is considered that the statues of Kouroi express the idea people had about their gods in this period. The gods are human, but much taller than man. It is for this reason that scholars think that these statues present some of the most important gods of the island, above all Dionysus.
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