The 'Doryphoros', Greek for javelin-carrier, is a famous statue of a victorious pentathlete by the fifth-century sculptor Polykleitos. The original bronze statue is lost, but several Roman copies are preserved.

The body of the athete has perfect proportions, based on a mathematical system called 'the canon of Polykleitos'. The sculptor himself wrote a treatise about this. The pose of the athlete was a major sculptural innovation. Older statues of people at rest look stiff and lifeless. By slightly bending the left leg and by turning the left foot a bit to the outside - the so-called 'contrapposto'-pose - Polykleitos made the javelin-carrier look very relaxed.

© KU Leuven, 2012