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date: 26 February 2020

Zeus in art

Although 8th-cent. figurines may represent Zeus, he 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. Paus. 5. 11), 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 S. 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, particularly 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(3) the Great and some Roman emperors, especially Hadrian (see olympieum).


Realencyclopädie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft Suppl. 15. 3, s.v. ‘Zeus’.Find this resource:

A. B. Cook, Zeus: A Study in Ancient Religion (1914–1940).Find this resource:

K. W. Arafat, Classical Zeus (1990).Find this resource:

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