Statue of Zeus Enthroned

Statue of Zeus Enthroned. Circa 100 BCE. Greek; marble. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California. (via Getty Museum)

In about 430 B.C., the sculptor Pheidias created a colossal, forty-foot tall, gold and ivory statue of Zeus for the temple of Zeus at Olympia, one of the most important religious sanctuaries in the Greek world. Pheidias’s cult statue later came to be considered one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. The sculptor of this marble statuette was strongly influenced by that famous image. Zeus, the king of the gods, sits on an elaborately ornamented, high-backed throne with his feet on a footstool. His cloak is wrapped about his body in a manner that leaves his powerful chest exposed. His raised right hand would probably have held a thunderbolt and his left hand a scepter. This statuette may have served as a cult statue in a private shrine of a wealthy Greek or Roman home. As the marine incrustations indicate, this statuette spent a long period of time submerged in the sea. The unmarred left side of the sculpture was probably buried in the sand and was thus protected.

 

Today, you are invited to join with people all around the world in making a libation to Zeus. In this way, whatever else we do to celebrate Hellenic occasions, we are united in doing the same action on the same day.

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