The ancient statues and pottery of the Golden Stone Age of Greece were much advanced in spectacular ways. The true facts of Zeus’s main reason for his statue. The great styles of the Kouros and the Kore. The story of The Blinding of Polphemus, along with the story of Cyclops. The Dori and Ionic column stone temples that were built in Greece that had an distinctive look. The true colors of the vase, Aryballos. The vase that carried liquids from one place to another. The Lyric Poetry that was originally a song to be sung to the accompaniment of the lyre.  Zeus was considered, according to Homer, the father of the gods and of mortals. He did not create either gods or mortals; he was their father in the sense of being the protector and ruler both of the Olympian family and of the human race. He was lord of the sky, the rain god, and the cloud gatherer, who wielded the terrible thunderbolt. His breastplate was the aegis, his bird the eagle, his tree the oak. Zeus presided over the gods on Mount Olympus in Thessaly. His principal shrines were at Dodona, in Epirus, the land of the oak trees and the most ancient shrine, famous for its oracle, and at Olympia, where the Olympian Games were celebrated in his honor every fourth year. The Nemean games, held at Nemea, northwest of Argos, were also dedicated to Zeus.

Zeus was the youngest son of the Titans Cronus and Rhea and the brother of the deities Poseidon, Hades, Hestia, Demeter, and Hera. According to one of the ancient myths of the birth of Zeus, Cronus, fearing that he might be dethroned by one of his children, swallowed them as they were born. Upon the birth of Zeus, Rhea wrapped a stone in swaddling clothes for Cronus to swallow and concealed the infant god in Crete, where he was fed on the milk of the goat Amalthaea and reared by nymphs. When Zeus grew to maturity, he forced Cronus to disgorge the other children, who were eager to take vengeance on their father. Zeus henceforth ruled over the sky, and his brothers Poseidon and Hades were given power over the sea and the underworld, respectively. The earth was to be ruled in common by all three. Beginning with the writings of the Greek poet Homer, Zeus is pictured in two very different ways. He is represented as the god of justice and mercy, the protector of the weak, and the punisher of the wicked.

As husband to his sister Hera, he is the father of Ares, the god of war; Hebe, the goddess of youth; Hephaestus, the god of fire; and Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth. At the same time, Zeus is described as falling in love with one woman after another and resorting to all kinds of tricks to hide his infidelity from his wife. Stories of his escapades were numerous in ancient mythology, and many of his offspring were a result of his love affairs with both goddesses and mortal women. It is believed that, with the development of a sense of ethics in Greek life, the idea of a lecherous, sometimes ridiculous father god became distasteful, so later legends tended to present Zeus in a more exalted light. His many affairs with mortals are sometimes explained as the wish of the early Greeks to trace their lineage to the father of the gods. Zeus’s image was represented in sculptural works as a kingly, bearded figure. The most celebrated of all statues of Zeus was Phidias’s gold and ivory colossus at Olympia. The standing nude youth (kouros), the standing draped girl (kore), and the seated woman. All emphasize and generalize the essential features of the human figure and show an increasingly accurate comprehension of human anatomy. The youths were either sepulchral or votive statues. Examples are Apollo (Metropolitan Museum), an early work; Strangford Apollo from Límnos (British Museum, London), a much later work; and the Anavyssos Kouros (National Museum, Athens). More of the musculature and skeletal structure is visible in this statue than in earlier works. The standing, draped girls have a wide range of expression, as in the sculptures in the Acropolis Museum, Athens. Their drapery is carved and painted with the delicacy and meticulousness common to the details of sculpture of this period. The Blinding of Polyphemus. Polyphemus, a Cyclops, the son of Poseidon, god of the sea, and of the nymph Thoösa. During his wanderings after the Trojan War, the Greek hero Odysseus and his men were cast ashore on Polyphemus’s island home, Sicily. The enormous giant penned the Greeks in his cave and began to devour them. Odysseus then gave Polyphemus some strong wine and when the giant had fallen into a drunken stupor, bored out his one eye with a burning stake. The Greeks then escaped by clinging to the bellies of his sheep. Poseidon punished Odysseus for blinding Polyphemus by causing him many troubles in his subsequent wanderings by sea. In another legend, Polyphemus was depicted as a huge, one-eyed shepherd, unhappily in love with the sea nymph Galatea. Cyclops, giants with one enormous eye in the middle of the forehead. In Hesiod, the three sons—Arges, Brontes, and Steropes—of Uranus and Gaea, the personifications of heaven and earth, were Cyclopes. The Greek hero Odysseus was trapped with his men in the cave of the Cyclops Polyphemus, a son of Poseidon, god of the sea. In order to escape from the cave after the giant devoured several men, Odysseus blinded him. Dori and Ionic Columns. Aware of Egyptian temples in stone, Greeks in the 7th century began to build their own stone temples in a distinctive style. They used limestone in Italy and Sicily, marble in the Greek islands and Asia Minor, and limestone covered with marble on the Greek mainland. Later they built chiefly in marble. The temples were rectangular and stood on a low, stepped terrace in an enclosure where rituals were performed.

Small temples had a two-columned front porch, sometimes with a portico before it. Larger temples, with front and back porches, might have a six- columned portico before each porch or be entirely surrounded by a colonnade. The colonnade supported an entablature, or lintel, under the gabled, tiled roof. Architects developed two orders, or styles of columns, the Doric and the Ionic (see Column). Doric columns, which had no bases and whose capitals consisted of a square slab over a round cushion shape, were heavy and closely spaced to support the weight of the masonry. Their heaviness was relieved by the tapered and fluted shaft. On the entablature, vertical triglyphs were carved over every column, leaving between them oblong—later square—metopes, which were at first painted and later filled with painted reliefs. The Doric style originated on the mainland and became widespread. The Doric temples at Syracuse, Paestum, Selinus, Acragas, Pompeii, Tarentum (Taranto), Metapontum, and Corcyra (Kérkira) still exist. Especially notable is the Temple of Poseidon at Paestum (450 BC). Columns in the Ionic style, which began in Ionia (Asia Minor) and the Greek islands, are more slender, more narrowly fluted, and spaced farther apart than Doric columns. Each rests on a horizontally fluted round base and terminates in a capital shaped like a flat cushion rolled into volutes at the sides. The entablature, lighter than in the Doric style, might have a frieze. Examples of Ionic temples are in Ephesus near modern Izmir, Turkey, in Athens (the Erechtheum), and (some traces) in Naucratis, Egypt. There are three standard types of columns in Greek classical architecture. The oldest is the Doric, which is the widest, has no base, and is topped by a simple abacus with an echinus directly underneath it. The Ionic column has a base and a capital made of scroll-shaped volutes directly beneath the abacus. The most elaborate column is the Corinthian. It has the most complex base, and the capital is made of layers of carved acanthus leaves ending in volutes. All three columns have fluted shafts.  The Aryballos was a very colorful vase. The black figure technique and the very Eastern-looking panther are characteristic of the Orientalizing style. Also characteristic are the flower like decorations, which are blobs of paint scored with lines. The musculature and features of the panther are also the result of scoring. The most characteristic shape was that of the aryballos, a polychromed container for carrying liquids. The Corinthian artist developed a miniature style that made use of a wide variety of eastern motifs-sphinxes, winged human figures, floral designs-all of them arranged in bands covering almost the entire surface of the vase. White, yellow, and purple were often used to highlight details, produced a bold and striking effect. The small size of the pot mad them ideal for exporting. The vases are well made, the figures lively, and the style instantly recognizable as Corinthian-an important factor for commercial success. Lyric Poetry. The lyric was originally a song to be sung to the accompaniment of the lyre. Two main types of lyrics were composed in ancient Greece: the personal and the choral lyric.

The personal lyric was developed on the island of Lesbos (modern Lésvos). The poet and musician Terpander, who was born on Lesbos but lived much of his life in Sparta, introduced the seven-string lyre and set the poems of Homer to music. Most of his poems were nomes, or liturgical hymns, written in honor of a god, especially of Apollo, and sung by a single performer to the accompaniment of the lyre. The surviving fragments of his work are of doubtful authenticity. Terpander was followed later in the 7th century BC by the great poets of Lesbos. Alcaeus treated political, religious, and personal themes in his lyrics and invented the Alcaic strophe. Sappho, the greatest woman poet of ancient Greece, invented the Sapphic strophe and wrote also in other lyric forms. Her poems of love and friendship are among the most finely wrought and passionate in the Western tradition. The Lesbian poets, as well as a number of later lyric poets from other Greek cities, composed their poems in the Aeolic dialect. In the 6th century BC the playful lyrics of the poet Anacreon on wine and love were written in various lyric meters. Subsequent verse similar in tone and theme was known as anacreontic. The choral lyric was first developed in the 7th century BC by poets who wrote in the Dorian dialect. Dominant in the region around Sparta, the Dorian dialect was used even in later times, when poets in many other parts of Greece were writing choral lyrics. The Spartan poets first wrote choral lyrics for songs and dances in public religious celebrations. Later they wrote choral lyrics also to celebrate private occasions, such as a victory at the Olympian Games. The earliest choral lyric poet is said to have been Thaletas, who in the 7th century BC reputedly came from Crete to Sparta in order to quell an epidemic with paeans, or choral hymns addressed to Apollo. He was followed by Terpander, who wrote both personal and choral lyrics; by Alcman, most of whose poems were partheneia, processional choral hymns sung by a chorus of young girls and partly religious in character and lighter in tone than the paeans; and in the late 7th century by Arion. Arion is said to have invented both the dithyramb, or hymn to Dionysus, and the tragic mode, which was used extensively in Greek drama.

Later great writers of choral lyrics include Sicilian poet Stesichorus, a contemporary of Alcaeus, who introduced the triadic form of choral ode, consisting of a series of groups of three stanzas; Ibycus of Rhegium, author of a large extant fragment of a triadic choral ode and of erotic personal lyrics; Simonides of Ceos, whose choral lyrics included epinicia, or choral odes in honor of victors at the Olympian Games, encomia, or choral hymns that celebrated particular persons, and dirges, as well as personal lyrics, including epigrams; and Bacchylides of Ceos, a nephew of Simonides, who wrote both epinicia, of which 13 are extant, and dithyrambs, of which 5 are extant. The ancient statues and pottery of the Golden Stone Age of Greece were much advanced in spectacular ways. The statue of Zeus was done for a very good reason. The statue represents being the lord of the sky, the rain god and the cloud gatherer.

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William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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