The Ancient Library
 

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Olympleum

432

OLYMPIEUM.

before Christ, by authors, orators, poets, and artists, to make themselves known in the widest circles by the recital or exhibition of their works. "When the compliment of a crown was offered by one state to another, the distinction was made generally known by being proclaimed by the heralds at the Olympian Games.

[Olympleum (Gr. Olympleion). The temple of Zeus Olympius in the southern quarter of Athens, between the AcropSlis and the Ilissus. It was built on the site of an ancient temple of Zeus ascribed to Deu­calion. The building was begun after 535 B.C., under the tyrant Pisistratus, but was suspended on the expulsion of his son Hippias, B.C. 510. Its original architecture was probably Doric. The names of the architects were Antistates, Callseschrus, Antlmachides, and Porinus. It was con­tinued in the Corinthian style under the Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes (B.C. 175-164), who employed for the purpose a Roman architect, Cossutius. It was com­pleted by the Roman emperor Hadrian, probably between a.d. 125 and 130, the year of its dedication. On this occasion an oration was delivered by the famous rhetorician P61emon, and Olympic games instituted on the model of those at Olympia. The emperor identified himself with Zeus and assumed the title of Olympius, causing a statue of himself to be placed in the temple and claiming divine honours from the priests. The first of these priests was the celebrated Herodes Aftlcus (q.v.). When Pausanias visited Athens about 170 A.D., the temple had been recently finished. He gives no description of the fabric, but states that the image of the god was of enormous size, only excelled by the colossi of Rhodes and Rome (i 18 § 6-8). It was of gold and ivory, and on its base were reliefs representing the battle of the Athenians with the Amazons (i 17 § 2). In the precinct a great number of statues of Hadrian were erected by the cities of the Greek world; the largest of these, that erected by Athens, stood at the west end of the temple. Among the statues of earlier date was one of Isocrates. There was also a fine group consisting of some Persians upholding a bronze tripod, and also an archaic bronze statue of Zeus. Lastly, in the precinct there was a temple of Cr6nus and Rhea, the sacred inclosure of which extended down to the Ilissus.

Some of the Doric columns of the original building were carried off to Rome by Sulla

in 86 b.c. to adorn the temple of lupltcr Capltollnus. In respect to its architecture the temple must be regarded as mainly the work of the 2nd century b.c. rather than the 2nd century a.d. The building was octostyle, dipteral, and probably hypsethral. As designed by Cossutius in the former century, it must have possessed more than 100 Corinthian columns, arranged in double rows of 20 each on the north and south sides, and in triple rows of 8 each at the ends. The columns were of Pentelic marble, 56J feet high, and 5-5j feet in diameter. The ruins in their present con­dition consist of 16 columns in two groups. To the east stand 13, which are compara­tively intact, and for the most part bear their architraves. About 100 feet to the west are three others, two still erect; the third was overthrown by a storm in 1852. The excavations of 1861 showed that the temple did not lie in the centre of the pre­cinct, but considerably nearer its northern wall.

The temple of the era of Pisistratus is mentioned by Thuc}'dides (ii 5) as one of the old temples in the southern part of the city. In respect to its origin, as well as its vast dimensions, Aristotle (Pol. v 11) compares it to the works of the dynasty of Cypselus at Corinth, the Pyramids of Egypt, and the public buildings erected by Pfilycrates of Samos. As a monument of tyranny it was naturally left unfinished by democratical Athens. Livy (xli 20 § 8) describes it as unum in terris in-cohatmn pro magnltudlnl dSi. In allu­sion to the long time during which it remained uncompleted, Lucian (Icaramen, 24) represents Zeus as getting impatient to know when the Athenians intended to finish his temple. Lastly, Vitruvius (vii prwf. 15-17) mentions it as one of the four most famous examples of marble architecture.

The ruins were first identified by a Prus­sian archaeologist, Transfeldt, in 1673-4, and independently by Stuart and Revett, whose great work on the Antiquities of Athens was published in 1762-1816. The first description pretending to any accuracy of detail was in the letter sent from Smyrna by Francis Vernon in 1676 and published in Spon's Voyage. The site has been explored in recent times by Rhuso-pulos in 1861 (Ephemeris Arch., 1862, pp. 31 ff.), and Penrose (Journal of Hellenic, Studies, viii 272, and Principles of Athenian Architecture, new ed.). A com­prehensive monograph on the subject by

Pages
About | First | Index

431

432

433
letter/word  
page #  
Search this site
Google


ancientlibrary.com
WWW
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.