Laocoonte’s naked body is a perfect anatomical study, it is the anatomy of an already mature athlete, almost decadent, but with a hyperdeveloped musculature, which contrasts with the less expressive and more classic bodies of his two ephebic sons. The work represents an unusual violence of action that we find thanks to both the tension of the scene and a consciously marked anatomy that shows us tense muscles, forced postures and expressive faces that mark the anguish of the scene.
In this work the line of idealistic realism is followed, that is, he continues to seek the expression of ideal beauty but with more pathos on the faces and greater complexity in the game of tension and finish (hair or folds of the robes) , and great technical virtuosity, which dilutes the idealizing effect to become very naturalistic. We can appreciate the roughness and textures of the skin, the curls on the beards, the hair that accentuate the effects of light and shadow. We clearly observe that Hellenistic characteristics such as the marked muscular tension and faces that openly express human emotions (in this case fear and pain), typical of the Hellenistic period and that break with the classic canons of serenity and balance, are marked in this sculpture.
Also notable is the impressive capture of pain, reflected in the faces, especially in the figure of Laocoon, who was a Trojan hero and priest. The pain is reflected in its two facets: the bodily pain due to the attack of the snakes and the moral pain, due to the death of their children at the sight of Laocoon. Thus, in the Laocoon, idealization and symbolism go one step further, as a sign of the power of the gods, but the sculptor’s virtuosity presents us with a very real figure, so real that in part it makes the idea itself disappear: no in this representation we only see a punishment from the gods, we see a suffering man, or we can see what we want to see: the spectator decides, who sees a man fighting against snakes or an idea that imaginary represents the punishment of the gods, that is , the concept of sin and contrition. The idealization is only maintained precisely in providing an elderly man with a hypertrophied body, more typical of a young athlete than an old man.
This apparent aesthetic dysfunction, allegedly sought by the sculptor for sure, is what maintains the representation in the idealistic field and therefore supports the message clearly expressed to the audience: “the gods are very powerful, look at what happened to Laocoonte , that angered them “, instead of” look at a man fighting with some snakes …, but not a normal man, like you, but a very powerful and strong man, as you can see by the size of his muscles .. . ».