Iconography: “one who has placed a band around his head”
The name that Polyclitus gave to the statue, διαδούμενος / diadoumenos, meaning “one who has placed a band [around his head]” derives from the Greek word διαδέω / diadeo, meaning band or diadem. A young man places a wide strip of cloth (tainia in Greek) around his head, of a type used in Greece not only to decorate monuments of beloved deceased people and gods but also as a mark of acknowledgement of friendship. This is not, therefore, the image of a victor who has won a wreath in an official competition, but an exemplary image of a beautiful, perfect young man, embellished by his admirers with the tainia.
The Diadumenos model, with its particular iconographic motif of wrapping a band of cloth around the head with both hands, was identified by Johann Joachim Winckleman (1717-1768) in 1764 as the Diadumenos by Polyclitus. Desribed by Pliny in his Natural History (34, 55) and by Lucian in his Philopatris (18), Winckleman identified the model on the basis of a relief on an altar in the Vatican with the inscription Diadumenos in which a young man of that name is engaged in the same action.