Laocoön and His Sons, Hellenistic Greek, early 1st century. Pliny attributes this sculpture to three sculptors form Rhodes: Agesander, Polydorus and Athenodoros.
Unearthed in 1506 near the site of the Domus Aurea of the Emperor Nero, the sculpture stands life-sized at a little over 2m. Here, Trojan priest Laocoön, as well as his sons Thymbraeus and Antiphantes, are being strangled by sea serpents after attempting to expose (rightfully) the danger of the Trojan Horse and throwing a spear at it. This was interpreted by the Trojans as proof that the horse was sacred, thus allowing it into their city and sealing their fate.
Literal English translation from the Aeneid (29-19 BC), where Virgil describes the death of Laocoön:
At the same time he stretched forth to tear the knots with his hands
his fillets soaked with saliva and black venom
at the same time he lifted to heaven horrendous cries:
like the bellowing when a wounded bull has fled from the altar
and has shaken the ill-aimed axe from its neck.
Courtesy & currently located at the Vatican Museums, Rome. Photo taken by Jean-Pol GRANDMONT .