The Statue of Zeus at Olympia

Updated February 23, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

The Question:

I would like information regarding the Statue of Zeus at Olympia. I desperately need it to complete an assignment. The only sites I can find just have descriptions of the statue. But I need more information please.

The Answer:

The Statue of Zeus at Olympia is one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. Crafted by Athenian sculptor Phidias around 435 B.C.E. to honor the greatest Greek god and the father of the Olympic Games, it was at one time the most famous statue in the ancient world.

The statue was 40 feet (12 meters) high and depicted Zeus sitting regally on his throne. The robe that Zeus was wearing and the ornaments he had on were made out of gold and his skin was made out of ivory. He also had a wreath around his head and held a figure of his famous messanger, Nike, in his right hand. He held a a rod with an eagle on the end in his left hand.

Unfortunately, the statue no longer exists. After the Olympic games were banned in 391 C.E. by the emperor Theodosius I as Pagan practices, the temple of Zeus (where the statue was housed) was ordered closed. Olympia was further struck by earthquakes, landslides and floods, and the temple was damaged by fire in the fifth century C.E.

Earlier, the statue had been transported by wealthy Greeks to a palace in Constantinople. There, it survived until it was destroyed by a severe fire in 462 C.E. Today nothing remains at the site of the old temple except rocks and debris, the foundation of the buildings, and fallen columns.

-The Fact Monster

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