Temple of Zeus, Olympia

The Temple of Zeus at Olympia was an ancient Greek temple in Olympia, Greece, dedicated to the god Zeus. The temple, built in the second quarter of the fifth century BCE, was the very model of the fully developed classical Greek temple of the Doric order.[1]

Temple of Zeus
Wilhelm Lübke's illustration of the temple as it might have looked in the fifth century BCE
General information
TypeGreek temple
Architectural styleAncient Greek architecture
LocationOlympia, Greece
Construction startedc. 470 BCE
Completedc. 457 BCE
Destroyed426 (sanctuary), 522, 551
Height68 feet (20.7 m)
Technical details
Size230 by 95 ft (70 by 29 m)
Design and construction
Other designersPaeonius, Alcamenes


The Temple of Zeus was built on an already ancient religious site at Olympia. The Altis, an enclosure with a sacred grove, open-air altars and the tumulus of Pelops, was first formed during the tenth and ninth centuries BCE,[2] Greece's "Dark Age", when the followers of Zeus had joined with the followers of Hera.[3]


Hera temple II - Paestum - Poseidonia - July 13th 2013 - 04
The Second Temple of Hera at Paestum, which was closely modelled on the Olympian Temple of Zeus

Construction began around 470 BCE and is estimated to have been completed in 457 BCE. The architect was Libon of Elis, who worked in the Doric style.

The temple was of peripteral form, with a frontal pronaos (porch), mirrored by a similar arrangement at the back of the building, the opisthodomos. The building sat on a crepidoma (platform) of three unequal steps, the exterior columns were positioned in a six by thirteen arrangement, two rows of seven columns divided the cella (interior) into three aisles. An echo of the temple's original appearance can be seen in the Second Temple of Hera at Paestum, which closely followed its form.

Pausanias visited the site in the second century AD and states that the temple's height up to the pediment was 68 feet (20.7 m), its breadth was 95 feet (29.0 m), and its length 230 feet (70.1 m).[4] It was approached by a ramp on the east side.

Because the main structure was of a local limestone that was unattractive and of poor quality, it was coated with a thin layer of stucco to give the appearance of marble so as to match the sculptural decoration. It was roofed with tiles of Pentelic marble, cut thin enough to be translucent, so that on a summer's day, "light comparable to a conventional 20-watt bulb would have shone through each of the 1,000 tiles."[5]

From the edge of the roof projected 102 waterspouts or gargoyles in the shape of lion heads, of which 39 are extant. Incongruities in the styles of the spouts provide evidence that the roof was repaired during the Roman period.[6]

Sculpture and decorations

2007 Greece Olympia Museum Heracles and Cretan Bull
Detail of a metope from the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, featuring Heracles and the Cretan bull (Archaeological Museum of Olympia, Greece)

The temple featured carved metopes and triglyph friezes, topped by pediments filled with sculptures in the Severe Style, now attributed to the "Olympia Master" and his studio.

The Eastern pediment depicts the chariot race between Pelops and Oenomaus while the Western pediment features a centauromachy with Theseus and the Lapiths. The god Apollo is featured on the western pediment pointing towards the human side in the centauromachy, indicating his favor, and towards the northern side of the temple.[7] Pausanias reports in his Description of Greece (5.10.8) that the Eastern pedimental sculpture was created by Paeonius and the Western sculpture was carved by Alcamenes. The metopes from the temple depict the twelve labours of Heracles.

Statue of Zeus

The temple housed the renowned statue of Zeus, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Chryselephantine (gold and ivory) statue was approximately 13 m (43 ft) high, and was made by the sculptor Phidias in his workshop on the site at Olympia. The statue's completion took approximately 12 years and was one of Classical Greece's most revered artistic works.

The installation of the colossal statue coincided with substantial modification of the cella. The internal columns and their stylobates were dismantled and repositioned, which likely necessitated retiling the roof. The original floor, paved with large blocks of shell stone, was covered with water-resistant lime, which may have helped protect the statue's ivory against humidity.

Subsequent history

Temple of Zeus, Olympia, 2010
Temple of Zeus, Olympia

The Roman general Mummius dedicated twenty-one gilded shields after he sacked Corinth in 146 BCE; they were fixed at the metopes of the eastern front side and the eastern half of the south side.

In CE 426, Theodosius II ordered the destruction of the sanctuary during the Persecution of pagans in the late Roman Empire.

Archaeologists have long postulated that the already ruined Temple was destroyed by the earthquakes of AD 522 and 551, known to have caused widespread damage in the Peloponnese, although a 2014 paper hypothesizes that the columns may have been "intentionally pulled down by ropes during the early Byzantine period". Flooding of the Kladeos river (Foundoulis et al., 2008), or by tsunami (Vott et al., 2011), led to abandonment of the area in the 6th century. Eventually the site was covered by alluvial deposits of up to 8 meters deep.[8]

The site of the ancient sanctuary, long forgotten under landslips and flood siltation, was identified in 1766. In 1829 a French team partially excavated the Temple of Zeus, taking several fragments of the pediments to the Musée du Louvre. Systematic excavation began in 1875, under the direction of the German Archaeological Institute, and has continued, with some interruptions, to the present time.

See also


  1. ^ by Temple of Zeus at Archaeopaedia, Stanford University
  2. ^ (Hellenic Ministry of Culture: The sanctuary site at Olympia, including the Temple of Zeus
  3. ^ Preceding the Temple of Zeus in the temenos at Olympia were the Iarchaic structures: "the temple of Hohepa, the Prytaneion, the Bouleuterion, the treasuries and the first stadium."
  4. ^ Pausanias. Description of Greece, 5.10.3 via Perseus Digital Library
  5. ^ Patay-Horváth, András (2015). New Approaches to the Temple of Zeus at Olympia: Proceedings of the First Olympia-Seminar, 8th-10th May, 2014. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4438-8191-3.
  6. ^ Frazer, James George. 1913. Pausanias's Description of Greece 3. 3. London: Macmillan. p. 496. OCLC 263716831
  7. ^ Neer, Richard. Greek Art and Archaeology: A New History, c. 2500-c. 150 BCE. Thames & Hudson. p. 229. ISBN 9780500288771.
  8. ^ Alexandris, Argyris & Psycharis, Ioannis & Protopapa, Eleni. (2014). THE COLLAPSE OF THE ANCIENT TEMPLE OF ZEUS AT OLYMPIA

· Pausanius Description of Greece

External links

Coordinates: 37°38′16″N 21°37′48″E / 37.63778°N 21.63000°E

Ancient Greek architecture

The architecture of ancient Greece is the architecture produced by the Greek-speaking people (Hellenic people) whose culture flourished on the Greek mainland, the Peloponnese, the Aegean Islands, and in colonies in Anatolia and Italy for a period from about 900 BC until the 1st century AD, with the earliest remaining architectural works dating from around 600 BC.Ancient Greek architecture is best known from its temples, many of which are found throughout the region, and the parthenon is a prime example of this, mostly as ruins but many substantially intact. The second important type of building that survives all over the Hellenic world is the open-air theatre, with the earliest dating from around 525-480 BC. Other architectural forms that are still in evidence are the processional gateway (propylon), the public square (agora) surrounded by storied colonnade (stoa), the town council building (bouleuterion), the public monument, the monumental tomb (mausoleum) and the stadium.

Ancient Greek architecture is distinguished by its highly formalised characteristics, both of structure and decoration. This is particularly so in the case of temples where each building appears to have been conceived as a sculptural entity within the landscape, most often raised on high ground so that the elegance of its proportions and the effects of light on its surfaces might be viewed from all angles. Nikolaus Pevsner refers to "the plastic shape of the [Greek] temple ... placed before us with a physical presence more intense, more alive than that of any later building".The formal vocabulary of ancient Greek architecture, in particular the division of architectural style into three defined orders: the Doric Order, the Ionic Order and the Corinthian Order, was to have profound effect on Western architecture of later periods. The architecture of ancient Rome grew out of that of Greece and maintained its influence in Italy unbroken until the present day. From the Renaissance, revivals of Classicism have kept alive not only the precise forms and ordered details of Greek architecture, but also its concept of architectural beauty based on balance and proportion. The successive styles of Neoclassical architecture and Greek Revival architecture followed and adapted Ancient Greek styles closely.

Ancient Greek temple

Greek temples (Ancient Greek: ναός, romanized: naós, lit. 'dwelling', semantically distinct from Latin templum, "temple") were structures built to house deity statues within Greek sanctuaries in ancient Greek religion. The temple interiors did not serve as meeting places, since the sacrifices and rituals dedicated to the respective deity took place outside them, within the wider precinct of the sanctuary, which might be large. Temples were frequently used to store votive offerings. They are the most important and most widespread building type in Greek architecture. In the Hellenistic kingdoms of Southwest Asia and of North Africa, buildings erected to fulfill the functions of a temple often continued to follow the local traditions. Even where a Greek influence is visible, such structures are not normally considered as Greek temples. This applies, for example, to the Graeco-Parthian and Bactrian temples, or to the Ptolemaic examples, which follow Egyptian tradition. Most Greek temples were oriented astronomically.

Between the 9th century BC and the 6th century BC, the ancient Greek temples developed from the small mudbrick structures into double porched monumental buildings with colonnade on all sides, often reaching more than 20 metres in height (not including the roof). Stylistically, they were governed by the regionally specific architectural orders. Whereas the distinction was originally between the Doric and Ionic orders, a third alternative arose in late 3rd century BC with the Corinthian order. A multitude of different ground plans were developed, each of which could be combined with the superstructure in the different orders. From the 3rd century BC onwards, the construction of large temples became less common; after a short 2nd century BC flourish, it ceased nearly entirely in the 1st century BC. Thereafter, only smaller structures were newly begun, while older temples continued to be renovated or brought to completion if in an unfinished state.

Greek temples were designed and constructed according to set proportions, mostly determined by the lower diameter of the columns or by the dimensions of the foundation levels. The nearly mathematical strictness of the basic designs thus reached was lightened by optical refinements. In spite of the still widespread idealised image, Greek temples were painted, so that bright reds and blues contrasted with the white of the building stones or of stucco. The more elaborate temples were equipped with very rich figural decoration in the form of reliefs and pedimental sculpture. The construction of temples was usually organised and financed by cities or by the administrations of sanctuaries. Private individuals, especially Hellenistic rulers, could also sponsor such buildings. In the late Hellenistic period, their decreasing financial wealth, along with the progressive incorporation of the Greek world within the Roman state, whose officials and rulers took over as sponsors, led to the end of Greek temple construction. New temples now belonged to the tradition of the Roman temple, which, in spite of the very strong Greek influence on it, aimed for different goals and followed different aesthetic principles (for a comparison, see the other article).

The main temple building sat within a larger precinct or temenos, usually surrounded by a peribolos fence or wall; the whole is usually called a "sanctuary". The Acropolis of Athens is the most famous example, though this was apparently walled as a citadel before a temple was ever built there. This might include many subsidiary buildings, sacred groves or springs, animals dedicated to the deity, and sometimes people who had taken sanctuary from the law, which some temples offered, for example to runaway slaves.


Apollo (Attic, Ionic, and Homeric Greek: Ἀπόλλων, Apollōn (GEN Ἀπόλλωνος); Latin: Apollō) is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in classical Greek and Roman religion and Greek and Roman mythology. The national divinity of the Greeks, Apollo has been variously recognized as a god of archery, music and dance, truth and prophecy, healing and diseases, the sun and light, poetry, and more. Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis. Seen as the most beautiful god and the ideal of the kouros (a beardless, athletic youth), Apollo is considered to be the most Greek of all gods. Apollo is known in Greek-influenced Etruscan mythology as Apulu.As the patron of Delphi (Pythian Apollo), Apollo is an oracular god—the prophetic deity of the Delphic Oracle.

Medicine and healing are associated with Apollo, whether through the god himself or mediated through his son Asclepius. Yet Apollo is also a god who could bring ill-health and deadly plague with his arrows.

Apollo is the god of archery and the invention of archery is credited to him and his sister Artemis. He has a golden and a silver bow, and a quiver of golden arrows.

As the god of Mousike (art of Muses), Apollo presided over all music, songs, dance and poetry. He is the inventor of string-music, and the frequent companion of the Muses, functioning as their chorus leader in celebrations. The lyre is a common attribute of Apollo.

As the protector of young, Apollo (kourotrophos) is concerned with the health and education of children. He presides over their passage into adulthood.

Apollo is an important pastoral deity. He is the patron of herdsmen and shepherds. Protection of herds, flocks and crops from diseases and pests were his primary duties.

Apollo encouraged founding new towns and establishment of civil constitution, and is associated with dominion over colonists. He is also the giver of laws, and his oracles were consulted before setting laws in a city.

Apollo is the god who affords help and wards off evil. He delivered men from epidemics. Various epithets call him the "averter of evil". As the patron of seafarers, he is also the god of foreigners, the protector of fugitives and refugees.

In Hellenistic times, especially during the 5th century BCE, as Apollo Helios he became identified among Greeks with Helios, Titan god of the sun. In Latin texts, however, there was no conflation of Apollo with Sol among the classical Latin poets until 1st century AD. Apollo and Helios/Sol remained separate beings in literary and mythological texts until the 5th century CE.

Doric order

The Doric order was one of the three orders of ancient Greek and later Roman architecture; the other two canonical orders were the Ionic and the Corinthian. The Doric is most easily recognized by the simple circular capitals at the top of columns. Originating in the western Dorian region of Greece, it is the earliest and in its essence the simplest of the orders, though still with complex details in the entablature above.

The Greek Doric column was fluted or smooth-surfaced, and had no base, dropping straight into the stylobate or platform on which the temple or other building stood. The capital was a simple circular form, with some mouldings, under a square cushion that is very wide in early versions, but later more restrained. Above a plain architrave, the complexity comes in the frieze, where the two features originally unique to the Doric, the triglyph and guttae, are skeuomorphic memories of the beams and retaining pegs of the wooden constructions that preceded stone Doric temples. In stone they are purely ornamental.

The relatively uncommon Roman and Renaissance Doric retained these, and often introduced thin layers of moulding or further ornament, as well as often using plain columns. More often they used versions of the Tuscan order, elaborated for nationalistic reasons by Italian Renaissance writers, which is in effect a simplified Doric, with un-fluted columns and a simpler entablature with no triglyphs or guttae. The Doric order was much used in Greek Revival architecture from the 18th century onwards; often earlier Greek versions were used, with wider columns and no bases to them.

Since at least Vitruvius it has been customary for writers to associate the Doric with masculine virtues (the Ionic representing the feminine). It is also normally the cheapest of the orders to use. When the three orders are used one above the other, it is usual for the Doric to be at the bottom, with the Ionic and then the Corinthian above, and the Doric, as "strongest", is often used on the ground floor below another order in the storey above.


Elis or Eleia (Greek: Ήλιδα, romanized: Ilida, Attic Greek: Ἦλις, romanized: Ēlis /ɛ̂ːlis/; Elean: Ϝᾶλις /wâːlis/, ethnonym: Ϝᾱλείοι) is an ancient district that corresponds to the modern regional unit of Elis.

Elis is in southern Greece on the Peloponnese, bounded on the north by Achaea, east by Arcadia, south by Messenia, and west by the Ionian Sea. Over the course of the archaic and classical periods, the polis "city-state" of Elis controlled much of the region of Elis, most probably through unequal treaties with other cities; many inhabitants of Elis were Perioeci—autonomous free non-citizens. Perioeci, unlike other Spartans, could travel freely between cities. Thus the polis of Elis was formed.

Homer mentions that Elis participated in the Trojan War.The first Olympic festival was organized in Elian land - Olympia - by the authorities of Elis in the eighth century BC, with tradition dating the first games to 776 BC. The Hellanodikai, the judges of the Games, were of Elian origin.

The local form of the name was Valis, or Valeia, and its meaning, in all probability was, "the lowland" (compare with the word "valley"). In its physical constitution Elis is similar to Achaea and Arcadia; its mountains are mere offshoots of the Arcadian highlands, and its principal rivers are fed by Arcadian springs.According to Strabo, the first settlement was created by Oxylus the Aetolian who invaded there and subjugated the residents. The city of Elis underwent synoecism—as Strabo notes—in 471 BC. Elis held authority over the site of Olympia and the Olympic games.

The spirit of the games had influenced the formation of the market: apart from the bouleuterion, the place the boule "citizen's council" met, which was in one of the gymnasia, most of the other buildings were related to the games, including two gymnasia, a palaestra, and the House of the Hellanodikai.

Franz Studniczka

Franz Studniczka (14 August 1860 – 4 December 1929) was a German professor of classical archaeology born in Jasło, Galicia.

He studied classical archaeology in Vienna as a pupil of Otto Benndorf (1838–1907). In 1887 he received his habilitation in Vienna, and in 1889 became the Chair of Classical Archaeology at the University of Freiburg.

In 1896, Studniczka was appointed Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Leipzig, succeeding Johannes Overbeck (1826-1895) who had died the previous November. Studniczka was a member of the Saxon Academy of Sciences at Leipzig University.

Studniczka was a leading authority on ancient Greek and Roman art and antiquities. He was responsible for the expansion of the collection of casts of antique sculptures at the Museum of Antiquities at Leipzig which eventually became one of the largest and most impressive collection of casts in Germany. He is also credited for the masterful restoration of the Artemis-Iphigenie-Gruppe.

List of Ancient Greek temples

This list of ancient Greek temples covers temples built by the Hellenic people from the 6th century BC until the 2nd century AD on mainland Greece and in Hellenic towns in the Aegean Islands, Asia Minor, Sicily and Italy, wherever there were Greek colonies, and the establishment of Greek culture. Ancient Greek architecture was of very regular form, the construction being "post and lintel". There are three clearly defined styles: the Doric Order, found throughout Greece, Sicily and Italy; the Ionic Order, from Asia Minor, with examples in Greece; and the more ornate Corinthian Order, used initially only for interiors, becoming more widely used during the Hellenistic period from the 1st century BC onwards and used extensively by Roman architects.

Each ancient Greek temple was dedicated to a specific god within the pantheon and was used in part as a storehouse for votive offerings. Unlike a church, the interior space was not used as a meeting place, but held trophies and a large cult statue of the deity.

List of ancient Greek and Roman monoliths

This is a list of ancient monoliths found in all types of Greek and Roman buildings.

It contains monoliths

quarried, but not moved

quarried and moved

quarried, moved and lifted clear off the ground into their position (architraves etc.)

quarried, moved and erected in an upright position (columns etc.)Transporting was done by land or water (or a combination of both), in the later case often by special-built ships such as obelisk carriers. For lifting operations, ancient cranes were employed since ca. 515 BC, such as in the construction of Trajan's Column.It should be stressed that all numbers are estimations since only in the rarest cases have monoliths been actually weighed. Rather, weight is calculated by multiplying volume by density. The main source, J. J. Coulton, assumes 2.75 t/m³ for marble and 2.25 t/m³ for other stone. For an explanation of the large margin of error, which often leads to widely differing numbers, see these introductory remarks.

List of ancient Greek and Roman roofs

The list of ancient roofs comprises roof constructions from Greek and Roman architecture ordered by clear span. Most buildings in classical Greece were covered by traditional prop-and-lintel constructions, which often needed to include interior colonnades. In Sicily truss roofs presumably appeared as early as 550 BC. Their potential was fully realized in the Roman period which saw over 30 m wide trussed roofs spanning the rectangular spaces of monumental public buildings such as temples, basilicas, and later churches. Such spans were thrice as large as the widest prop-and-lintel roofs and only superseded by the largest Roman domes.

Olympia Master

The Olympia Master is the name given to the anonymous sculptor responsible for the external sculpture of the Temple of Zeus, Olympia. From what Pausanias tells us of the dates of the Temple, the Master and his workshop were active between 470 and 457 BCE The two pediments and the series of metopes ascribed to him are the paradigmatic expression of the Early Classical or Severe style of 5th century Greek sculpture.

The site of the sanctuary was first systematically excavated by a French team in 1829 then the German expedition headed by Georg Treu from 1875-81, and the results published in a 5 volume report by Ernst Curtius and Friedrich Adler, Olympia: Die Ergebnisse der von dem deutschen Reich veranstalteten Ausgrabung, 1892-7. The building and sculpture had been shattered by an earthquake in antiquity and subsequently partially reused as building material, the rest buried under alluvial mud. The early classical sculptures did not initially attract as much attention as the later works such as the Nike of Paionios. Since the first reconstruction of the pediments by Treu in 1897 and the rejection of Pausanias’s ascription to Paionios of Mende and Alkamenes on grounds of chronology the temple decoration is now commonly attributed to the putative Olympia Master, one amongst a studio of five sculptors.

The two gable ends and metopes exhibit a stylistic unity of strong rhythms and simple planes. The dress of the figures has not yet reached the naturalism of the mature classical, yet in the temple sculptures there is evidence of an experimentation not pursued by the younger Greek sculptors. The Olympia Master's work achieves a complexity of emotion that exceeds the conventions of the archaic; we find pathos, hubris, tension, exhaustion, disgust - markedly so in his characterization of Herakles, nuances lost to the idealised art of the later 5th century. The east pediment represents Pelops’s race against Oinomaos for the hand of Hippodamia, seemingly at the moment of the oath of the two contestants before Zeus himself. On the west we find Theseus and Perithoos fighting the Centaurs at the point of greatest violence in contrast to the instant of duplicitous tension on the east. Apollon in the center of the west pediment. The metopes depict the twelve labours of Herakles, a figure of singular importance to the temple, as it was he, a son of Zeus, who according to legend marked out the sanctuary and instituted the Olympic games. Traces of colour have been found on the sculpture and a case has been made that some of the detailing was painted on. The arrangement of the Pediments remains a matter of dispute, and the subject of no fewer than 59 conjectured restorations. The pediments are sculpted in the round albeit dowelled on to the pediment background and most backs are unfinishedl; some are hollow, presumably to save weight. They are of Paros marble with a few of the heads in pentelic marble, notably the heroes wear Attic and not Peloponnesian helmets. Several of the heads of the pediment figures have unworked bosses suggesting that a pointing process was used from clay or wood models, it is highly unusual to find traces of technique on work of the era.

The architectural decoration of Zeus’s temple is perhaps the only major monument from a significant studio of the Severe period to survive; consequently it is taken to be the summation of the Severe style from which other works in the idiom beg comparison. Several regional styles have been suggested as an origin for the artist including the Ionian, Peloponnesian and Laconian.

Physics (Aristotle)

The Physics (Greek: Φυσικὴ ἀκρόασις Phusike akroasis; Latin: Physica, or Naturales Auscultationes, possibly meaning "lectures on nature") is a named text, written in ancient Greek, collated from a collection of surviving manuscripts known as the Corpus Aristotelicum, attributed to the 4th-century BC philosopher Aristotle.

Sacred grove (disambiguation)

A sacred grove or sacred woods is any grove of trees of special religious importance to a particular culture.

Sacred grove or Sacred Grove may also refer to:

"Grove" or "Sacred grove" means an Asherah pole, a cult image, in some translations of the Bible

Sacred Grove (Latter Day Saint movement), a historical site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Ontario County, New York

The Sacred Grove, (Arabic: al-Mash'ar al-Haram), Hajj prayer site and roofless mosque in Muzdalifah

The Sacred Grove, (Italian: Sacro Bosco), in the Gardens of Bomarzo, renaissance garden, Lazio, Italy

The Sacred Grove, burial ground of the Temple of Vesta

Sacred grove at the Temple of Zeus, Olympia

Sacred grove at Dodona, Athens

Sacred grove of the Oracle at Delphi

The Sacred Grove, grave site in Steuben Memorial State Historic Site, Oneida County, New York

The Sacred Grove (French: le Bois Sacré), original name for the frieze The Allegory of the Sorbonne by Puvis de Chavannes

The Sacred Grove, name given by artist John La Farge to an oak-hickory forest at Paradise, Rhode Island; after the sacred grove of Virgil

The Sacred Grove, wooded area now occupied by the Stevenson Center of Vanderbilt University

The Sacred Grove: Essays on Museums by Dillon Ripley, 1969

A location in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess


Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions. It is one of the plastic arts. Durable sculptural processes originally used carving (the removal of material) and modelling (the addition of material, as clay), in stone, metal, ceramics, wood and other materials but, since Modernism, there has been an almost complete freedom of materials and process. A wide variety of materials may be worked by removal such as carving, assembled by welding or modelling, or molded or cast.

Sculpture in stone survives far better than works of art in perishable materials, and often represents the majority of the surviving works (other than pottery) from ancient cultures, though conversely traditions of sculpture in wood may have vanished almost entirely. However, most ancient sculpture was brightly painted, and this has been lost.Sculpture has been central in religious devotion in many cultures, and until recent centuries large sculptures, too expensive for private individuals to create, were usually an expression of religion or politics. Those cultures whose sculptures have survived in quantities include the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean, India and China, as well as many in Central and South America and Africa.

The Western tradition of sculpture began in ancient Greece, and Greece is widely seen as producing great masterpieces in the classical period. During the Middle Ages, Gothic sculpture represented the agonies and passions of the Christian faith. The revival of classical models in the Renaissance produced famous sculptures such as Michelangelo's David. Modernist sculpture moved away from traditional processes and the emphasis on the depiction of the human body, with the making of constructed sculpture, and the presentation of found objects as finished art works.

Severe style

The severe style, or Early Classical style, was the dominant idiom of Greek sculpture in the period ca. 490 to 450 BCE. It marks the breakdown of the canonical forms of archaic art and the transition to the greatly expanded vocabulary and expression of the classical moment of the late 5th century. It was an international style found at many cities in the Hellenic world and in a variety of media including: bronze sculpture in the round, stelae, and architectural relief. The style perhaps realized its greatest fulfillment in the metopes of the Temple of Zeus, Olympia.

The term "severe style" was first coined by Gustav Kramer in his Über den styl und die Herkunft der bemahlten griechischen Thongefäße ("On the style and the origins of painted Greek pottery", 1837, Berlin) in reference to the first generation of red figure vase painters; the name has since Vagn Poulsen’s 1937 study Der strenge stil ("The Severe Style") become exclusively associated with sculpture.


Zeus (; Ancient Greek: Ζεύς, Zeús [zdeǔ̯s]) is the sky and thunder god in ancient Greek religion, who rules as king of the gods of Mount Olympus. His name is cognate with the first element of his Roman equivalent Jupiter. His mythologies and powers are similar, though not identical, to those of Indo-European deities such as Jupiter, Perkūnas, Perun, Indra and Thor.Zeus is the child of Cronus and Rhea, the youngest of his siblings to be born, though sometimes reckoned the eldest as the others required disgorging from Cronus's stomach. In most traditions, he is married to Hera, by whom he is usually said to have fathered Ares, Hebe, and Hephaestus. At the oracle of Dodona, his consort was said to be Dione, by whom the Iliad states that he fathered Aphrodite. Zeus was also infamous for his erotic escapades. These resulted in many divine and heroic offspring, including Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, Persephone, Dionysus, Perseus, Heracles, Helen of Troy, Minos, and the Muses.He was respected as an allfather who was chief of the gods and assigned the others to their roles: "Even the gods who are not his natural children address him as Father, and all the gods rise in his presence." He was equated with many foreign weather gods, permitting Pausanias to observe "That Zeus is king in heaven is a saying common to all men". Zeus' symbols are the thunderbolt, eagle, bull, and oak. In addition to his Indo-European inheritance, the classical "cloud-gatherer" (Greek: Νεφεληγερέτα, Nephelēgereta) also derives certain iconographic traits from the cultures of the ancient Near East, such as the scepter. Zeus is frequently depicted by Greek artists in one of two poses: standing, striding forward with a thunderbolt leveled in his raised right hand, or seated in majesty.

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