Statue of Zeus at Olympia
The Statue of Zeus at Olympia was a giant seated figure, about 13 m (42 ft) tall,  made by the Greek sculptor Phidias in circa 430-422 BC at the sanctuary of Olympia, Greece and erected in the Temple of Zeus there. A chryselephantine sculpture of plated ivory and gold panels over a wooden framework, it represented the god Zeus sitting on an elaborate cedarwood throne ornamented with ebony, ivory, gold, and precious stones, and was regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World until its eventual loss and destruction during the fifth century AD. No copy of the statue has ever been found, and details of its form are known only from ancient Greek descriptions and representations on coins.
The great seated statue was created by the Greek sculpter Phidias and it was half occupied with the width of the aisle of the temple built to house it. "It seems that if Zeus were to stand up," the geographer Strabo noted early in the 1st century BC, "he would unroof the temple." The Zeus was a chryselephantine sculpture, made of ivory and gold-plated bronze. No copy in marble or bronze has survived, though there are recognizable but approximate versions on coins of nearby Elis and on Roman coins and engraved gems. A very detailed description of the sculpture and its throne was recorded by the traveler Pausanias, in the 2nd century AD. In Zeus' right hand there was a small statue of crowned Nike, goddess of victory, also chryselephantine, and in his left hand, a sceptre inlaid with gold, on which an eagle perched. Titus Livius records that the Roman general Aemilius Paulus, the victor over Macedon, when he beheld the statue, “was moved to his soul, as if he had seen the god in person,” while the 1st century AD Greek orator Dio Chrysostom declared that a single glimpse of the statue would make a man forget all his earthly troubles.
The date of the statue, in the third quarter of the 5th century BC, long a subject of debate, was confirmed archaeologically by the rediscovery and excavation of Phidias' workshop.
According to a legend, when Phidias was asked what inspired him—whether he climbed Mount Olympus to see Zeus, or whether Zeus came down from Olympus so that Pheidias could see him—the artist answered that he portrayed Zeus according to Book One, verses 528 – 530 of Homer's Iliad: 
- ἦ καὶ κυανέῃσιν ἐπ' ὀφρύσι νεῦσε Κρονίων
- ἀμβρόσιαι δ' ἄρα χαῖται ἐπερρώσαντο ἄνακτος
- κρατὸς ἀπ' ἀθανάτοιο μέγαν δ' ἐλέλιξεν Ὄλυμπον.
- He spoke, the son of Cronos, and nodded his head with the dark brows,
- and the immortally anointed hair of the great god
- swept from his divine head, and all Olympos was shaken.
The sculptor also was reputed to have immortalised his eromenos, Pantarkes, by carving "Pantarkes kalos" into the god's little finger, and placing a relief of the boy crowning himself at the feet of the statue.
Loss and destruction 
According to Suetonius, the Roman Emperor Caligula "gave orders that such statues of the gods as were especially famous for their sanctity or for their artistic merit, including that of Zeus at Olympia, should be brought from Greece, in order to remove their heads and put his own in their place." Caligula was assassinated in AD 41. In Rome other interpretations were placed on the phenomenon: according to Suetonius, Caligula's "approaching murder was foretold by many prodigies. The statue of Jupiter at Olympia, which he had ordered to be taken to pieces and moved to Rome, suddenly uttered such a peal of laughter that the scaffolding collapsed and the workmen took to their heels."
The circumstances of its eventual destruction are a source of debate: the 11th-century Byzantine historian Georgios Kedrenos recorded the tradition that it was carried off to Constantinople, where it was destroyed in the great fire of the Lauseion, in AD 475. Others argue that it perished with the temple when it burned in 425. According to Lucian of Samosata in the later 2nd century, "they have laid hands on your person at Olympia, my lord High-Thunderer, and you had not the energy to wake the dogs or call in the neighbours; surely they might have come to the rescue and caught the fellows before they had finished packing up the statue."
Phidias' workshop rediscovered 
Perhaps the greatest discovery came in 1954–1958 with the excavation of the workshop at Olympia where Phidias created the statue. Tools, terracotta moulds and a cup inscribed "I belong to Pheidias" were found here, just where the traveler Pausanias said the statue of Zeus was constructed. This has enabled archaeologists to re-create the techniques used to make the great work and confirm its date.
See also 
- Phidias from encyclopædiabritannica.com. Retrieved 3 December 2012
- Statue of Zeus from encyclopædiabritannica.com. Retrieved 22 November 2006
- Alaa K. Ashmawy. The Seven Wonders: The Statue of Zeus at Olympia]." Retrieved on 2 December 2001.
- Gisela M. A. Richter, "The Pheidian Zeus at Olympia" Hesperia 35 .2 (April–June 1966:166-170) pp. 166f, 170. Details of the sculpture in this article are corroborated in the Richter article.
- "On his head is a sculpted wreath of olive sprays. In his right hand he holds a figure of Victory made from ivory and gold. In his left hand, he holds a sceptre inlaid with every kind of metal, with an eagle perched on the sceptre. His sandals are made of gold, and his robe is also gold. His garments are carved with animals and with lilies. The throne is decorated with gold, precious stones, ebony, and ivory." (Pausanias, Description of Greece 5.11.1-.10). Pausanias was informed that the paintings on the throne were by the brother of Phidias, Panaenus.
- Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, XLV. 28, 5.: “Iovem velut praesentem intuens motus animo est.”
- Or. 12.51
- Zamarovský, Vojtěch. Za sedmi divy světa. p. 186.
- Iliad, I, 528-530
- John Grimes Younger, Sex in the Ancient World from A to Z, p. 95. Routledge; Abingdon and New York, 2005.
- Suetonius, Gaius 2.2; compare Cassius Dio, 59.28.3.
- Suetonius, Gaius, 57.1
- Georgius Kedrenos, Historiarum Compendium §322c, in Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae 34, vol. I, p. 564, according to Richter 1966 note 1.
- Schobel 1965; Richter 1966.
- Lucian's dialogue Timon the Misanthrope, translated by H. W. Fowler And F. G. Fowler.
- "Phidias", Oxford Dictionary of Art, e-Notes.com
- K. Kris Hirst, "A Walking Tour of Olympia, Greece," about.com
- "Olympia, Workshop of Pheidias," Perseus Building Catalog, about.com
- Kenneth D. S. Lapatin, Chryselephantine Statuary in the Ancient Mediterranean World, Oxford University Press (2001) ISBN 0-19-815311-2
- Alfred Mallwitz and Wolfgang Schiering, Die Werkstatt des Pheidias in Olympia I: Olympische Forschungen V, Berlin: Walter de Gruyter (1964)
- Wolfgang Schiering, Die Werkstatt des Pheidias in Olympia II: Werkstattfunde: Olympische Forschungen XVIII, Berlin: Walter de Gruyter (1991) ISBN 3-11-012468-8
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Statue of Zeus at Olympia|
- Colin Delaney, "A Wonder to Behold: The Statue of Olympian Zeus"
- Archaeopaedia: Statue of Zeus With bibliography
- (Ellen Papakyriakou) Olympia: Art: the chryselephantine statue of Zeus
- Michael Lahanas, "The colossal Zeus statue of Pheidias"
- David Fenzl "Recreating Olympic Statuary"
- History.com: the Seven Wonders