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Bourke GF. The Statue of Zeus at Olympia and the 'Polis' of the Eleans. 2011.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://e-publications.une.edu.au/1959.11/10636
The Statue of Zeus at Olympia and the 'Polis' of the Eleans
In the first half of the fifth century B.C. the Eleans, in whose territory the sanctuary of Olympia was located, built there a magnificent temple of Olympian Zeus. Later in the same century they commissioned the Athenian sculptor Phidias to construct a gold and ivory statue for the temple. A consideration of the iconography of the temple and statue, along with further evidence, suggests that the building programme at Olympia was in part intended both as a celebration of the Elean 'synoikismos' of 471 B.C. and a deterrent to outside interference in the internal affairs of the new, democratic 'polis'. It can also be understood as a reaffirmation of both the special relationship of the Eleans with Zeus and the central importance of Olympia in the religious affairs of Greece. A passage from the 'Declamations' of the fourth century A.D. rhetorician Himerius provides a convenient starting point. ... This passage raises several questions: Where was Simonides going? What was "the 'polis' of Zeus?" When, and for what purpose, did Simonides make his journey? In what sense did he sing "before Zeus?"