Imagine, for a moment, that you are doing excavation work in your backyard, desirous of adding a family room on to your house, when the contractor unearths, oh, one of the civilization’s three or four greatest sculptures, one of antiquity’s wondrous masterpieces.
Such is the case with the magnificent Dying Gaul, a depiction of a fatally wounded warrior facing his final end, on exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., compliments of the Capitoline Museum in Rome and the Italian government. It dates from the first or second century A.D., most likely a Roman copy, in marble, of a Greek bronze from Pergamon, a Hellenized city in Asia Minor, now Turkey. It was cast in the third century B.C. to celebrate the defeat of the invading Gauls or Celts, a fierce people whose reach extended even to the wilds of Ireland.