The Laocoön group, otherwise known as Laocoön and His Sons, is widely considered to be the one of most famous pieces of Hellenistic art. It is a marble copy of a bronze sculpture that according to the Roman writer Pliny the Elder (23-79 CE) depicts the Trojan priest Laocoön and his two sons, Antiphas and Thymbraeus, being killed by giant serpents as described in the epic poem Aeneid by the Roman poet Virgil (70 BCE - 19 CE). In accordance with the poem, Laocoön was believed to be a priest of either Poseidon or Apollo in Troy. Leading up to his subsequent execution, Laocoön adamantly opposed the acceptance of the Trojan horse from the Greeks only to be disregarded and dismissed by his own people. In a fit of rage, Laocoön threw a spear at the horse, an act that angered Athena, who favored the Greeks, into sending giant sea serpents to strangle Laocoön and his two sons. Hagesandros, Polydoros, and Athenodoros, master sculptors of Rhodes, drew inspiration from this poem and worked to construct the Laocoön group sometime around 40-30 B.C, however, the date of origin has been the subject of much debate.
The farmer, Felice de’ Fredis, discovered the group on January 14, 1506 while digging in his vineyard on the Esquiline Hill near the church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. Upon finding the first few pieces of the marble statuary, a large trench was plowed around the fragments in effort to get a closer look. It was determined that the nine pieces raised from the ground belonged