Laocoon, or, On the Limits of Painting and Poetry (in German, Laokoon: oder über die Grenzen der Malerei und Poesie) is one of the best known writings of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. Written in 1766, it uses the famous statue of Laocoon and his sons being eaten by serpents as a starting point for an argument which held that painting and poetry are fundamentally separate art forms, in that painting is concerned with single moments, while poetry is concerned with movement.

La*oc"o*on (?), n. [L., fr. Gr. ]

1. Class. Myth.

A priest of Apollo, during the Trojan war. (See 2.)

2. Sculp.

A marble group in the Vatican at Rome, representing the priest Laocoon, with his sons, infolded in the coils of two serpents, as described by Virgil.


© Webster 1913.

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