The Sculptures of the East and West Pediments of The Temple of Zeus at Olympia

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Use of Movement and Characterisation in the Sculptures of the East and West Pediments of The Temple of Zeus at Olympia The architectural sculpture of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia dates from between 465 and 457BC. Putting the temple into historical context, this was a somewhat flourishing time in Greek history, drama, and philosophy. In 490BC, the Athenians won a great victory at Marathon against the Persians, and in 480BC the Persians sacked Athens but were eventually defeated in a naval victory for the Athenians at Salamis. Greek tragedy was thriving during the fifth century, with Aeschylus’ Oresteia being written roughly around the same time as the sculptures for the temple of Zeus were created, …show more content…
I would argue that the sculptures on both these pediments are impressive examples of early classical sculpture, successfully introducing the depiction of emotion which was lacking in the archaic period. The sculptures receive expression in suitability to the story that is depicted on the pediment, establishing more of a naturalistic element to the architectural sculpture compared to that of the archaic period. In some cases, gestures and emotions are more restrained than others ; however this does not mean to say that the sculptors were incapable of depicting emotion, but rather they chose not to express it on certain figures, for reasons that I will discuss in further detail later in this essay. In order to explore how the movement and characterisation of the sculptures enhance the narratives, I will now discuss each of the myths in turn. The east pediment depicts the myth of Pelops and Oinomaos. It shows the moment before an important chariot race between these two characters, overseen by Zeus in the middle of the pediment. Oinomaos, king of Pisa, had received a prophecy predicting that he would be killed by his daughter’s husband, and so he was reluctant for his daughter

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