This replica is based on a life-size imaginary portrait formerly thought to represent Homer, but now more plausibly identified as Sophocles. It is moulded from the original in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities at the Museum.
Sophocles was born in Athens in 496 BC and lived there until his death in 405 BC. He originally hoped to become an actor, but his voice lacked the strength that Athenian theatre required and he turned instead to writing plays. He wrote over 100 works for theatre. Most of these were satirical works. In 468 BC he won a dramatic competition, beating the great Aeschylus who had been victorious for the previous thirteen years. Sophocles' major works include Electra, Antigone, and his masterpiece Oedipus Tyrannus.
The original sculpture was made in Greece in the 3rd century BC. The bronze was brought from Constantinople in the early 17th century for the collection of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel. Carved in marble, this replica is a Roman copy of a lost Greek original.