Lecture 4 – 2/3/11 – Greek Architecture, continued
•Temple of Zeus in Olympia
•Located in the center of the sanctuary in Olympia. Surrounded by statues or offering.
Venues for athletic trainings and “hotels” for officials from other cities. Sanctuary in
Olympia was the site of the most important Pan-Hellenic (‘all Greek’) games, celebrates
since 776 BCE. Herakles and Pelops were both credited with founders of the games.
•Temple of Zeus, built around 460 BCE. At the time it was the largest temple in Greece.
No longer standing (probably because of an earthquake). Columns were not made by
marble, but by a cheaper marble and covered with stucco to look white and shiny. Used
marble only for the roof tiles and the architectural sculptures.
•Classically Doric. Built by architect Libon from nearby town of Elis. Sculptural
decoration is used sparingly. Exterior metopes were not sculpted or decorated, only the
•Monumental statue was made of gold and ivory (‘chryselephantine’), built by Pheidias.
Statue was added a few decades later when funds had been raised. Statue is about 12m
high. Zeus is seated, holding Nike (signifying victory) and a scepter (expresses kingly
power). Torso was made with ivory, robe made with gold
•Pheidias’ workshop was been found and had been later transformed into a church.
The size of the workshop matched that of the naos/cella of the statue so he could
check the size. Glass and ivory has been found at the site
•“I belong to Pheidias” – inscription on the foot of a vase found at the workshop – but
some say it was a prank by one of the excavators
•Pediments on east and west side are decorated. East pediment shows preparation of a
chariot race between Pelops and Oinomaos (king of nearby town). His daughter
Hippodameia was beautiful but he killed off her suitors in chariot races. Pelops
overcomes Oinomaos (supposedly is given special horses by a god – another story is
that he tampers with a chariot so Oinomaos dies). In the center of the east pediment is
Zeus, flanked by Pelops, Hippodameia, Oinomaos, horses, personifications of the
nearby rivers, etc.
•West pediment is the battle of Lapiths and Centaurs at the wedding of Lapith
Peirithoos – centaurs get drunk and try to rape and kidnap the young boys and
females, battle ensues, centaurs are killed. In the center is Apollo (god of light and
order), flanked by Theseus, Lapiths, and centaurs. Myths include warning to maintain
Lecture 4 2/3/11 greek architecture, continued: temple of zeus in olympia. Located in the center of the sanctuary in olympia. Venues for athletic trainings and hotels for officials from other cities. Olympia was the site of the most important pan-hellenic ( all greek") games, celebrates since 776 bce. Herakles and pelops were both credited with founders of the games: temple of zeus, built around 460 bce. At the time it was the largest temple in greece. No longer standing (probably because of an earthquake). Columns were not made by marble, but by a cheaper marble and covered with stucco to look white and shiny. Used marble only for the roof tiles and the architectural sculptures: classically doric. Built by architect libon from nearby town of elis. Exterior metopes were not sculpted or decorated, only the interior frieze: monumental statue was made of gold and ivory ( chryselephantine"), built by pheidias.