Wonder of Ancient World: The Great and Powerful Statue of Zeus God of Gods at Olympia
The statue of Zeus in Olympia, Greece, was among the seven wonders of the ancient world and arguably the most famous statue of its day. Once built as a shrine to honor the Greek god Zeus, this statue was considered the incarnate of the Greeks’ most important god, and not to have noticed it at least once in one’s lifetime was regarded as a misfortune. The size of a four story building and seven times the height of an average person, it was the tallest statue of the Mediterranean world. It also remained the statue to whom the first Olympic Games were performed honor.
According to legend, the altar of Zeus stood on a place struck by a thunderbolt, which had been hurled by the god by his throne high atop Mount Olympus, where the gods constructed. Altars into Zeus graced the forecourts of homes throughout Greece and pilgrims visited his many mountaintop shrines, but the god’s best-known temple was the monumental Temple of Zeus, built at a sacred grove between two rivers in Olympia in the west coast of Greece. The city of Olympia housed not only the Temple of Zeus, but also hosted the Olympic Games. They were first started in 776 BC and held every four decades. 1 difference between the early and modern Olympic Games is that the early games were played within the context of a religious festival. They had been held in honour of Zeus, considered the father of the Olympic Games. To honor Zeus, a temple was commissioned by the taxpayers of Olympia at 470 BC.
Between roughly 466 BC and 456 BC, the Temple of Zeus was assembled by the Greek architect Libon, according to the ancient Doric style and located in town of Olympia. In early times the city of Olympia was a location of the cult of Zeus and included numerous treasures, baths, temples, monuments, altars, theaters, and gorgeous statues. Pausanias, a Greek traveler that composed the earliest guidebook to early Greece at 150 AD created a comprehensive description of this temple. The temple had 13 columns and six columns on each end of Doric style. The roof has been gently peaked and 40 lion-shaped marble gargoyles on the roof served as water spouts. Under the triangles or”pediments” (the cube above the columns) were sculptures depicting the twelve labors of Heracles. The temple followed a design used on many large Grecian temples and has been comparable to the Parthenon at Athens and the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus. Though the temple was considered one of the best examples of this Doric design due to its design as well as the quality of the workmanship, it was determined the temple was too simple to become worthy of the King of the gods. To remedy this, a statue was commissioned for the inside.
The statue of Zeus was housed in the Temple of Zeus and made by The Greek sculptor Phidias at 430 BC, believed that the most famous performer of early Greece. It took him a few years to finish and was one of his two masterpieces with the other being the statue of Athena in the Parthenon.
The statue quantified over 13m (42 feet) high and 6m (21 ft ) wide and had a perimeter of 13m (43 feet). The Greek geographer Strabo noted in the first century BC that if Zeus awakened, he would have put his head through the roof of this temple. Even the cella or Naos, was the interior portion of the temple and main room in the center of the building which included the colossal figure. A viewing gallery enabled visitors to view it from a high vantage point which was accessed by two spiral staircases. Sitting on a throne adorned with images of gods and heroes from Greek mythology sat the immortal Zeus. The statue was created from a wooden framework of cedar wood covered with expensive materials like ivory, ebony, bronze, gold leaf and precious stone. Zeus’s eyes were set with diamonds and around his head turned into a silver wreath. His beard and hair were made from gold along with also his unclothed flesh — head, feet and hands — was rendered in ivory ivory. He wore a robe and set of sandals made from gold. The blossom under his feet was maintained by two impressive gold lions. To maintain his ivory skin from splitting the god needed to be regularly anointed with olive oil, which was accumulated in a shallow pool beneath his feet and employed to clean the statue on a daily basis.
The statue of Zeus at Olympia Greece stood in position for more than 800 decades, and has been the largest statue that the early Greeks ever realized. In 391 AD, Rome’s new Christian emperor Theodosius I ordered the statue dismantled and stripped of its gold. The Olympics were also abolished from the Theodosius I in 393 or 394 AD because of their ancestral associations.
Theodosius II ordered the destruction of the temples in 426 AD and it may have perished then or, based on historian Georgios Kedrenos, been moved to Constantinople (the new capital of the Roman empire) where it was destroyed along with the temple during a great fire at 462 or 475 AD.
The initial archaeological work on the Olympia website was performed by a group of French scientists at 1829. They could find the outline of this temple and discovered fragments of this sculpture revealing the labors of Heracles. These pieces were sent to Paris where they’re still on display today at the Louvre. The next expedition came from Germany in 1875 which managed to map the entire temple and find the remains of this pool in the ground that comprised the oil for the statue. From the 1950’s an excavation uncovered the workshop of Phidias that was discovered beneath an early Christian Church. Archaeologists found sculptor’s tools, a pit for casting bronze, clay molds, simulating plaster and even a portion of one of those elephant’s tusks that had supplied the ivory for the statue. Many of the clay molds, which had been used to form the golden plates, bore serial numbers which must have been utilized to show the area of the plates at the design.
Now, all that remains in Olympia are the temple’s fallen columns and also the foundation of the building, which have been discovered during 19th and 20th Century archaeological digs. Since no copies of this statue are proven to exist, its exact visual representation has never been confirmed and lots of the details of it are obtained from depictions on coins and ancient Greek descriptions.
Featured Picture: The statue of a seated Zeus in Olympia, Was Made by the Greek sculptor Phidias. It had been thirty-nine ft, or twelve inches, tall. The sculpture was wreathed with gold olive shoots and sat to a grand throne cedar wood, inlaid with ivory, gold, ebony, and precious stones.