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Phidias

Bronze Sculptor 480 - 430BC

Phidias was born in 480BC in Greece. A very famous Greek sculptor, painter and architect, he is best known for his statue of Zeus at Olympia, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Phidias' early works were dedications to the memory of Marathon, celebrating the Greek victory. These sculptures were commissioned by the famous Athenian statesmen, Pericles, to celebrate the Greek victory against the Persians at the Battle of Marathon during the Greco-Persian Wars in 490BC. To help create this sculpture and rebuild Athens, Pericles used some of the money from the maritime League of Delos.

At Delphi, he created a great group in bronze, including the figures of Greek gods Apollo and Athena, several Attic heroes and General Militiades the Younger. On the Acropolis of Athens, Phidias constructed a colossal bronze statue of Athena, called the Athena Promachos, which was remarkably visible far out at sea. Later on in his life, he made two further statues of Athena, at Pellene in Achaea and at Plataea, as well as a statue of the goddess Aphrodite in ivory and gold for the people of Elis.

His most famous works is indeed the statue of Zeus at Olympia. Belonging to the middle of the 5th Century BC, the statue of Zeus was constructed from ivory plates and gold panels over a wooden framework. Depicting Zeus sitting on an elaborate cedar wood throne, ornamented with ebony, ivory, gold and precious stones, this statue stood at about 13m tall and is known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Sadly it was lost and destroyed during the 5th Century AD, with no copy ever being found. In fact, details of its form are only known from ancient Greek descriptions and representations on coins.

In 1958, archaeologists found the workshop at Olympia where Phidias assembled the gold and ivory Zeus. There were still some shards of ivory as well as moulds and other casting equipment and a black glaze drinking cup, engraved 'I belong to Phidias'.

Today, many critics and historians consider him one of the greatest of all Ancient Greek sculptors.

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