Chapter

New Statues for Old Gods

Jan N. Bremmer and Andrew Erskine

in The Gods of Ancient Greece

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780748637980
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670758 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748637980.003.0008
New Statues for Old Gods

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This chapter addresses the circumstances surrounding the production of monumental new statues of deities in precious materials (such as gold and ivory) in fifth- and fourth-century B.C. Greece. Most famous are the statues of Pheidias—Athena Parthenos and Zeus Olympios—but neither these, nor others (e.g., Aphaia at Aigina, Hera at Argos, Dionysos at Athens, Artemis Laphria at Kalydon) resulted from the needs of new cults. Rather they supplemented older, more venerable statues of lesser materials and/or scale that stood in adjacent temples or even, on occasion, were moved off to the side in the very same temple while the new works received prominent central placement. This chapter seeks to analyze specifically the possible motivations behind and reactions to the supplementation of numinous ancient “cult” statues that often possessed some divine pedigree—such as having fallen from the heavens or been dedicated by a legendary hero—by massive new works fashioned by renowned artists at great expense by mortal artists and explores the role of inter-state competition through the iconography of the precious.

Keywords: Statues; Temples; Heroes; Art; Pheidias; Athena Parthenos; Zeus Olympios; Gold; Ivory

Chapter.  10074 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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