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Laocoön was a priest of Poseidon at Troy who was killed along with his sons by Poseidon for trying to expose the ruse of the Trojan Horse. He threw his spear at the wooden horse and was torn apart by a sea serpent sent from the gods to kill him.

The great sculpture of "Laocoön and his Sons" now in the Vatican museum was attributed by the Roman author Pliny the Elder to three sculptors from the island of Rhodes: Hegesandros, Athenedoros, and Polydoros. The date - whether the sculpture is 2nd century B.C. or A.D. 1st century - is widely controverted in the field of classical art history. Pliny tells us that the sculpture was in the palace of the emperor Titus. When the fragments were discovered in the 16th century, Michelangelo was commissioned to restore the statue.

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