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OLYMPIEUM
Form: Gr. Olympieion.
The temple of Zeus Olympius in the southern quarter of Athens, between the Acropolis and the Ilissus. It was built on the site of an ancient temple of Zeus ascribed to Deucalion. The building was begun after 535 B.C., under the tyrant Pisistratus, but was suspended on the expulsion of his son Hippias, B.C. 510. Its original architecture was probably Doric. The names of the architects were Antistates, Callaeschrus, Antimachides, and Porinus. It was continued in the Corinthian style under the Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes (B.C. 175-164), who employed for the purpose a Roman architect, Cossutius. It was completed by the Roman emperor Hadrian, probably between A.D. 125 and 130, the year of its dedication. On this occasion an oration was delivered by the famous rhetorician Polemon, and Olympic games instituted on the model of those at Olympia. The emperor identified himself with Zeus and assumed the title of Olympias, causing a statue of himself to be placed in the temple and claiming divine honours from the priests. The first of these priests was the celebrated Herodes Atticus (q.v.). When Pausanias visited Athens about 170 A.D. the temple had been recently finished. He gives no description of the fabric, but states that the image of the god was of enormous size, only excelled by the colossi of Rhodes and Rome (i 18 § 6-8). It was of gold and ivory, and on its base were reliefs representing the battle of the Athenians with the Amazons (i 17 § 2). In the precinct a great number of statues of Hadrian were erected by the cities of the Greek world; the largest of these, that erected by Athens, stood at the west end ofthe temple. Among the statues of earlier date was one of Isocrates. There was also a fine group consisting of some Persians upholding a bronze tripod, and also an archaic bronze statue of Zeus. Lastly, in the precinct there was a temple of Cronus and Rhea, the sacred inclosure of which extended down to the Ilissus. Some of the Doric columns of the original building were carried off to Rome by Sulla in 86 B.C. to adorn the temple of Iupiter Capitolinus. In respect to its architecture the temple must be regarded as mainly the work of the 2nd century B.C. rather than the 2nd century A.D. The building was octostyle, dipteral, and probably hypaethral. As designed by Cossutius in the former century, it must have possessed more than 100 Corinthian columns, arranged in double rows of 20 each on the north and south sides, and in triple rows of 8 each at the ends. The columns were of Pentelic marble, 56½ feet high, and 5-5½ feet in diameter. The ruins in their present condition consist of 16 columns in two groups. To the east stand 13, which are comparatively intact, and for the most part bear their architraves. About 100 feet to the west are three others, two still erect; the third was overthrown by a storm in 1852. The excavations of 1861 showed that the temple did not lie in the centre of the precinct, but considerably nearer its northern wall. The temple of the era of Pisistratus is mentioned by Thucydides (ii 5) as one of the old temples in the southern part of the city. In respect to its origin, as well as its vast dimensions, Aristotle (Pol. v 11) compares it to the works of the dynasty of Cypselus at Corinth, the Pyramids of Egypt, and the public buildings erected by Polycrates of Samos. As a monument of tyranny it was naturally left unfinished by democratical. Athens. Livy (xli 20 § 8) describes it as unum in terris incohatum pro magnitudine dei. In allusion to the long time during which it remained uncompleted, Lucian (Icaromen. 24) represents Zeus as getting impatient to know when the Athenians intended to finish his temple. Lastly, Vitruvius (vii proef. 15-17) mentions it as one of the four most famous examples of marble architecture. The ruins were first identified by a Prussian archaeologist, Transfeldt, in 1673-4, and independently by Stuart and Revett, whose great work on the Antiquities of Athens was published in 1762-1816. The first description pretending to any accuracy of detail was in the letter sent from Smyrna by Francis Vernon in 1676 and published in Spon's Voyage. The site has been explored in recent times by Rhusopulos in 1861 (Ephemeris Arch., 1862, pp. 31 ff.), and Penrose (Journal of Hellenic Studies, viii 272, and Principles of Athenian Architecture, new ed.). A comprehensive monograph on the subject by L. Bevier is included in the Papers of the American Classical School at Athens, 1885, vol. i 183-222.] [J.E.S.]
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