A Purely Greek Wonder: The Statue Of Zeus At Olympia Done In Turabian Style With Endnotes For A Greek History Class Final Exam.

1245 words - 5 pages

These are the things that normally come to mind when people of this century try to name the Seven Wonders of the World: Stonehenge, the Great Wall of China, the statues on Easter Island, and the Great Pyramids at Giza, to name a few. While they are all remarkable and equally mysterious, only one of the above is actually on the original list of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and it is the Great Pyramids at Giza. Although the list is famous and most people have heard of it, not that many can actually name all seven because of the seven, only the Pyramids remain virtually undisturbed. The other six are: the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Colossus at Rhodes, the statue of Zeus at Olympia, and the Pharos at Alexandria. Philo of Byzantium compiled the list we commonly use today c. 225 BC in Alexandria, Egypt in his On the Seven Wonders. While most of the wonders were considered to be of Greek origin, the statue of Zeus at Olympia stands out merely because it epitomized the core of Greek life: worshipping the gods. While many of the Ancient Wonders were decidedly Greek in origin and nature, the statue of Zeus at Olympia stands out as being a true Greek wonder.The city of Olympia was a place of worship and only those of Greek blood could worship within its walls. When the Olympic Games were held in ancient days, the same standard applied to the athletes wanting to participate. While the whole world knows of the Olympic Games today, not too many know that the statue of the god of which the games are supposed to honor was also a wonder of the ancient world. Since Zeus happens to be the king of the gods and resides on Mt. Olympus in Olympia, it is the natural choice for much study.The Greeks, having a personal view of their gods, believed that the direct action of the gods in human affairs was commonplace. Because of this, the Greeks tended to make their buildings, especially those temples dedicated to the specific gods, extremely ornate. The temple dedicated to Zeus at Olympia was no exception. It was probably built c. 466 BC and had probably used random relics, a revered cult object, or even a misshapen piece of stone as the object of worship. It seems that the council of the sanctuary searched long for a sculptor to adequately portray the king of gods and they finally chose Pheidias, son of Charmides, a citizen of Athens. Pheidias had already sculpted two great statues of Athena in Athens, though he was scandalously run out of town; he was unable to accurately give exact accounts of gold used that had been appropriated for one of the statues. Consequently, he was charged with embezzlement and made the conscious choice to leave, as opposed to the embarrassment of being exiled.Despite his marred reputation, he also came because of the technique he had developed in Athens for using ivory and gold in sculptures. Called chryselephantine, the technique involved forming plates of ivory...

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