The Statue of Zeus at Olympia
~The Statue of Zeus at Olympia in Greece
Important facts about the Statue of Zeus|
The Statue was the smallest of all the Wonders, but it was nonetheless impressive (Ashmawy). It was 40 feet high and represented Zeus seated elegantly on his throne. Its base was 20 feet wide and 3 feet high. The Statue was so large that it dominated the temple's interior (Ashmawy). Unfortunately, the size of the statue was often a magnet for criticism (Ashmawy). Strabo was one such critic:
. . . Although the temple itself is very large, the sculptor is criticized for not having appreciated the correct proportions. He has shown Zeus seated, but with the head almost touching the ceiling, so that we have the impression that if Zeus moved to stand up he would unroof the temple. (qtd. in Ashmawy)
Others liked the concept that Zeus was, in effect, larger than life (Ashmawy). It was this aspect of the Statue that made it so popular. The concept that the god would "unroof the temple" if he tried to stand fascinated poets and historians endlessly (Ashmawy).
The Statue was beautifully sculpted with rare and expensive materials (Pathak). Its skin was made of ivory, and his robes and the ornaments that decorated his body were skillfully crafted from gold (Pathak). He was crowned by an olive branch wreath and he held an image of his personal messenger, the goddess of victory, Nike, in his right hand (Silverberg 56). In his left, he held a scepter with an eagle perched on the end (Ashmawy). Pausanias the Greek of the second century CE describes the idol's splendor:
On his head is a sculpted wreath of olive sprays. In his right hand he holds a figure of Victory made from ivory and gold . . . In his left hand, he holds a sceptre inlaid with every kind of metal, with an eagle perched on the sceptre. His sandals are made of gold, as is his robe. His garments are craved with animals and with lilies. The throne is decorated with gold, precious stones, ebony, and ivory. (qtd. in Ashmawy)
In the second century BCE, the aging Statue was repaired. In the first century CE, the Roman emperor Caligula tried to move the statue to Rome. Before he could, the scaffolding his workmen had built collapsed (Ashmawy).
Rich East High School * Park Forest, IL 60466
This page was created by E.S. Last revised 05/12/00.
|The Greeks||| Seven Wonders | Great Pyramid | Hanging Gardens | Temple of Artemis | Mausoleum at Halicarnassus | Colossus at Rhodes | Pharos (Lighthouse) of Alexandria | Bibliography |