statue of Zeus by Pheidias

Reconstruction of the chryselephantine statue of Zeus at the temple of Olympia.

The statue was made by Pheidias around 432 BC and had height about 12 meters (seven times larger than normal).
Zeus was seated on his throne, which was made from bronze, gold, ivory and various precious stones. The throne was decorated by his pupils Panainos and Kolotis, with  mythological scenes. The bare body of Zeus was made from ivory and his robe was covered from golden sheets, adorned with lilies and zodiac scenes. His sandals were gold.  His head was crowned by a silver olive wreath and the hairs and beard were made out of gold.
In his right hand kept a Nike, made of gold and ivory and in his left a scepter with an eagle on top, made up from all the known metals.
The face was so impressive and it is said that when his nephew (or brother) Panainos asked Pheidias from where he was inspired, he quoted the lines from Homer's Iliad, that described Zeus brow and hairs.
Pausanias wrote, that when the statue was finished, Pheidias asked Zeus for a sign, if the work was at his liking and the god replied by striking the temple with a thunderbolt, but without destroying anything. At the spot where the thunderbolt had struck, a bronze hydria was placed. It was shame, for a man to die without visiting Olympia to see the statue.
Dio Crysostomos, in a speech given at the temple in 97 AD., said: "If a man, with a heavy heart from grief and sorrow in life, will stand in front of the statue, he will forget all these". 
The statue was at Olympia until 393 AD, afterwards it was taken to Constantinople, where it was destroyed in the great fire of Lauseion, at 476 AD.




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