Sreda, 16 Juni 2021 10:47

Phidias' statue of the god Zeus at Olympia Istaknut

Olympian Zeus in the sculptured antique art of Quatremère de Quincy (1815) Olympian Zeus in the sculptured antique art of Quatremère de Quincy (1815)

The Athenian sculptor Phidias already had a great reputation when in 437 BC he and his colleagues Colotes and Panaenus settled in ancient Olympia, on the west coast of today's Greece, about 150 kilometers west of Athens in the temple dedicated to Zeus to make the statue of the supreme god of the Greeks, Zeus, in whose honor the Olympic Games were celebrated. The dates of work in Athens, for the realization of the statue ordered by Greek statesman Pericles: 447 to 438, or 9 years. The statue, which stood in the Temple of Zeus, is now lost, but is shown on countless coins and gems, and was described by the Greek traveler and geographer Pausanias.

The testimony of Pausanias, who described a statue of god Zeus during the first century of his life, serves as a guide for description. The god Zeus was shown as a seated figure on a huge throne about 13 meters high. In one hand, he carried a statue of victory goddess Nike, in the other a scepter with an eagle on top. The body, the face, and the undraped parts were of ivory to simulate the whiteness of the little while the clothes, the beard, and the hair were of gold. The hair received an olive crown made of silver. His eyes were of precious stones. The garment, a cloak, and sandals were adorned with glass flowers and semi-precious stones. The throne was made of cedar and decorated with gold, precious stones, ebony, and ivory. It,s base was made of shiny white ivory and decorated with gold and reliefs depicting mythological scenes and legends, sphinxes and figures of Victory with wings, sculptures of the Greek god Apollo, Artemis, and Niobium children and mythological creatures, as well as motifs from Olympic competitions.

Pausanias relates a legend according to which when Phidias finished making the statue, he looked at the sky and asked Zeus if he liked his golden-ivory image. Immediately, thunder opened a hole in the ground as a symbol of the god's approval. Until Pausanias' time, there was still a hole on the floor that was said to be made out of Zeus' thunder.

For centuries, the statue of Zeus was in the temple, but it was neglected in Roman times. According to some sources, the statue was transferred to the imperial palace in Constantinople in 394, where it was located until it was destroyed in a great fire in 462. According to other sources, the statue burned in the flames that engulfed the temple of Zeus in 425. In the 4th century AD, the Roman emperor Constantine the Great ordered it to be dismantled and had it transported to Constantinople, the new capital of the Roman empire.

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