The Pergamon Neus: The Importance Of Zeus

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The altar of Zeus, which is usually referred as the Pergamon altar, is a giant monument constructed under King Eumenes II (Campell, “Pergamon”) on one of the terraces of the Acropolis in Pergamon. It is one of the numerous sculptural monuments that the Pergamenes aim of commemorating their military achievements (Pollitt 81). The altar is a part of the Acropolis that includes the library and the sanctuary of Athena on the sides (Fig. 1), which was built to worship their patron goddess Athena and further claims the new identity of Pergamon as the new Athens (Barringer 349). The date of the altar is uncertain, but it might be from 180 to 160 BCE (“Pegamonmuseum”). After the altar was discovered by a German expedition at the end the 19th century, …show more content…
Moreover, because Pericles tried to build a monument to commemorate the glory of Athens before (Pollitt 81), Attalos’ defeat of many invasions gave the country a superior sensation that they were responsible for protecting and inheriting the spirits of Athens as Pericles did. The several confrontations with the invasions of the Gauls were the most important parts of their victories and bronze sculptural groups were made not only to memorialize the battles (81), but also to imitate their spiritual ancestors, the Athenians. Thus, the altar of Zeus might be the biggest monument they built for their victories. King Eumenes II, on the other hand, was the crucial leader on the battlefield due to his sagacity and resourcefulness, who succeed his father and brought his kingdom unparalleled growth (81). It is noteworthy that, in a vital battle happened around 184/3 BC, Pergamon incorporated the territory of the Gauls (81). The leading military commander instructed the sailors to collect many poisonous snakes and then throw them on the decks of Pergamene ships. This impressive experience might be the prime stimulus for the numerous representations of giant snakes on the friezes of the altar of Zeus (82). Throughout the history of Pergamon, the war that happened in the land not only gave this kingdom power and territory but also continually reaffirmed the belief of the Pergamenes that they …show more content…
To some extent, the whole project functions as a modern mural memorizing the adventurous experiences and heroic deeds from the birth to death of this legendary founder. As Zeus occupies a dominant position in the great frieze of the exterior room, Telephos are the central figure of the corresponding, smaller frieze, since he is believed to be the son of Heracles (Scholl 44). To some extent, the Olympian gods are the ancestors, who have blood relations with them. Their ancestors are responsible for the cosmic orders. The Pergamenes, thus, have to establish their own orders and values in the new territory as the new Athens. The Telephos frieze is an indispensable part of the altar of Zeus, since both the protagonists of two stories share similar positions on the

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