The Statue of Zeus

This colossal statue represented the Greek god of heaven: Zeus. It was ordered in 450 BC. to the Athenian sculptor Phidias by the inhabitants of Olympia who wished to decorate the temple of the old town.

This statue was located on the west coast of Greece at Olympia. In the antiquity, this city was a place of cult which contained numerous treasures of the Greek art: temples, monuments, altars, theaters, statues and marble or bronze votive offerings. It was realized with golden and ivory, measured 12 m (39 feet) height and was placed on a base of 2 m (7 feet). The base of the statue was 6 m (21 feet) wide and 1 m height. The statue's perimeter was 13 m (43 feet). This work touched almost the ceiling of the temple. On the other hand, the throne was decorated with precious stones, ivory, ebony and gold.

Zeus, in sat position, holds, in its right hand, the goddess of Victory, Nike, and, in the left hand, a scepter surmounted by an eagle. The throne was decorated with relief sculptured mythological scenes, notably evoking the murder of the sons of Niobe, the queen of Thebes.

Why is that a ancient wonder?

First of all, this work remained the statue of the god in honour of whom the ancient Olympic Games were created. They took place every four years and were the most famous ancient four games during which the Greeks were involved. The three others were the Isthmian games (at Corinth), the Pythian games (at Delphi) and the Nemean games (at Nemea). Then, we can say that with its greatness and its priceless value, the statue of Zeus distanced itself from the other Greek works. We can add that this is the biggest statue that the Greeks have ever realized.

Unfortunately, it was destroyed during the fire which ravaged the temple in 462. Nowadays, only stony ruins which were used for the construction of the temple remain.

Several illustrations :

The Statue of Zeus #1 The Statue of Zeus #2 The Statue of Zeus #3
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