Ancient Greek History

Statue of Zeus at Olympia – One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

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seven-wonders-of-the-ancient-worldAlthough it is no longer standing, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, which is one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World, continues to enchant all those who learn about it. At one point during antiquity, all of the seven wonders were actually considered to be part of the Ancient Greek Empire. However, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia is the only one of them that was located on the Greek mainland. Here’s more information about the history of this imposing statue:

Phidias Becomes the Finest Sculptor in Greece

After the Athens won the First Persian Invasion in 480 B.C., Pericles, the famous Athenian politician, began commissioning various works, such as the Parthenon in Athens, to celebrate. One of the artists who worked on the Parthenon, Phidias, really set himself apart from the others who worked on the Parthenon and the sculptures that surrounded it. He was responsible for crafting an impressive statue of Athena to be part of the new temple. Since there were plenty of sculptors and artists who were winning commissions all over Greece, Phidias was particularly motivated to create the best statue that he could. After it was finished, this statue quickly earned the reputation of being the finest in all of Greece.

Phidias is Commissioned to Sculpt the Statue of Zeus at Olympia

However, before he was commissioned to create the Statue of Zeus, he was involved in a scandal after the Athena statue was completed. He was accused of embezzlement, which put him on the brink of being an outcast in Athenian society. Before the scandal could develop any further, Phidias’ reputation of a genius sculptor had reached Olympia and they promptly commissioned him to create the famous statue of Zeus. Back then, the Temple of Zeus at Olympia was an important part of the Olympic Games, since the games themselves were dedicated to the king of the gods. The imposing statue that Phidias was to build would further honor Zeus.

Phidias Designs the Most Impressive Statue in Ancient Greece

There’s a reason why the Statue of Zeus is one of the of Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The statue stood at an impressive four stories in height and was the largest known statue that had ever been created at the time. It was also designed to take up one of the ends of the massive temple. However, since the statue was so large, Phidias needed to create new techniques because at the time, statues were usually created by carving solid blocks of ivory. Instead, he and his workers unscrolled the ivory to create long strips. These strips of ivory were softened so that the various pieces of the statue could be molded into various shapes that were then fitted together over a wooden frame. It was in this way that Phidias was able to build such a large and impressive statue.

After seven years of hard work, Phidias and his assistants finally completed the statue. In order for people to gaze upon it, they needed to enter the temple. Once they did, they were treated to a view of one of the largest and most impressive statues in Ancient Greece.

Sources:

Wikipedia – Statue of Zeus at Olympia

Wikipedia – Greco-Persian Wars

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This post was written by GreekBoston.com