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Zeus in art


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Zeus does not assume a type until early Archaic, when he strides with thunderbolt and, rarely, eagle. In the Classical period, Zeus is quieter, often seated and with a sceptre: the prime example is Phidias' cult statue at Olympia, familiar from literature (esp. Pausanias), coins, gems, and echoes on vases. The type continues in the Hellenistic period.

Zeus participates in many scenes. The east pediments of Olympia and the Parthenon centred on him. He fights in the Gigantomachy (see giants) from Attic and south Italian Archaic and Classical vases to the Hellenistic Pergamum altar frieze. On Classical vases and sculpture, his pursuits include Aegina (the eponymous heroine of Aegina, see eponymoi) and Ganymede. His transformations occur, esp. in depictions of his seduction of Europa from early Archaic, and Leda from late Classical. He is common on coins. Zeus was favoured by Alexander (2) the Great and some Roman emperors, esp. Hadrian (see olympieum).

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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