Pausanias 5.10.2 - 5.12.8
[10.2] The temple and the image were made for Zeus from spoils, when Pisa was crushed in war by the Eleans, and with Pisa such of the subject peoples as
conspired together with her. The image itself was wrought by Pheidias, as is testified by an inscription written under the feet of Zeus:Pheidias, son of Charmides, an
Athenian, made me.The temple is in the Doric style, and the outside has columns all around it. It is built of native stone.
[10.3] Its height up to the pediment is sixty-eight feet, its breadth is ninety-five, its length two hundred and thirty. The architect was Libon, a native. The tiles are not
of baked earth, but of Pentelic marble cut into the shape of tiles. The invention is said to be that of Byzes of Naxos, who they say made the images in Naxos on
which is the inscription: -- To the offspring of Leto was I dedicated by Euergus, A Naxian, son of Byzes, who first made tiles of stone.
This Byzes lived about the time of Alyattes the Lydian, when Astyages, the son of Cyaxares, reigned over the Medes.
[10.4] At Olympia a gilt caldron stands on each end of the roof, and a Victory, also gilt, is set in about the middle of the pediment. Under the image of Victory has
been dedicated a golden shield, with Medusa the Gorgon in relief. The inscription on the shield declares who dedicated it and the reason why they did so. It runs
thus: -- The temple has a golden shield; from Tanagra The Lacedaemonians and their allies dedicated it, A gift taken from the Argives, Athenians and Ionians, The
tithe offered for victory in war. This battle I also mentioned in my history of Attica, Then I described the tombs that are at Athens.
[10.5] On the outside of the frieze that runs round the temple at Olympia, above the columns, are gilt shields one and twenty in number, an offering made by the
Roman general Mummius when he had conquered the Achaeans in war, captured Corinth, and driven out its Dorian inhabitants.
[10.6] To come to the pediments: in the front pediment there is, not yet begun, the chariot-race between Pelops and Oenomaus, and preparation for the actual race
is being made by both. An image of Zeus has been carved in about the middle of the pediment; on the right of Zeus is Oenomaus with a helmet on his head, and by
him Sterope his wife, who was one of the daughters of Atlas. Myrtilus too, the charioteer of Oenomaus, sits in front of the horses, which are four in number. After
him are two men. They have no names, but they too must be under orders from Oenomaus to attend to the horses.
[10.7] At the very edge lies Cladeus, the river which, in other ways also, the Eleans honor most after the Alpheius. On the left from Zeus are Pelops, Hippodameia,
the charioteer of Pelops, horses, and two men, who are apparently grooms of Pelops. Then the pediment narrows again, and in this part of it is represented the
Alpheius. The name of the charioteer of Pelops is, according to the account of the Troezenians, Sphaerus, but the guide at Olympia called him Cillas.
[10.8] The sculptures in the front pediment are by Paeonius, who came from Mende in Thrace; those in the back pediment are by Alcamenes, a contemporary
of Pheidias, ranking next after him for skill as a sculptor. What he carved on the pediment is the fight between the Lapithae and the Centaurs at the marriage of
Peirithous. In the center of the pediment is Peirithous. On one side of him is Eurytion, who has seized the wife of Peirithous, with Caeneus bringing help to
Peirithous, and on the other side is Theseus defending himself against the Centaurs with an axe. One Centaur has seized a maid, another a boy in the prime of youth.
Alcamenes, I think, carved this scene, because he had learned from Homer's poem that Peirithous was a son of Zeus, and because he knew that Theseus was a
great grandson of Pelops.
Most of the labours of Heracles are represented at Olympia. Above the doors of the temple is carved the hunting of the Arcadian boar, his exploit against Diomedes
the Thracian, and that against Geryones at Erytheia; he is also about to receive the burden of Atlas, and he cleanses the land from dung for the Eleans. Above the
doors of the rear chamber he is taking the girdle from the Amazon; and there are the affairs of the deer, of the bull at Cnossus, of the Stymphalian birds, of the
hydra, and of the Argive lion.
[10.10] As you enter the bronze doors you see on the right, before the pillar, Iphitus being crowned by a woman, Ececheiria (Truce), as the elegiac couplet on the
statue says. Within the temple stand pillars, and inside also are porticoes above, with an approach through them to the image. There has also been constructed a
winding ascent to the roof.
The god sits on a throne, and he is made of gold and ivory. On his head lies a garland which is a copy of olive shoots. In his right hand he carries a Victory, which,
like the statue, is of ivory and gold; she wears a ribbon and -- on her head -- a garland. In the left hand of the god is a scepter, ornamented with every kind of metal,
and the bird sitting on the scepter is the eagle. The sandals also of the god are of gold, as is likewise his robe. On the robe are embroidered figures of animals and
the flowers of the lily.
[11.2] The throne is adorned with gold and with jewels, to say nothing of ebony and ivory. Upon it are painted figures and wrought images. There are four Victories,
represented as dancing women, one at each foot of the throne, and two others at the base of each foot. On each of the two front feet are set Theban children
ravished by sphinxes, while under the sphinxes Apollo and Artemis are shooting down the children of Niobe.
[11.3] Between the feet of the throne are four rods, each one stretching from foot to foot. The rod straight opposite the entrance has on it seven images; how the
eighth of them disappeared nobody knows. These must be intended to be copies of obsolete contests, since in the time of Pheidias contests for boys had not yet
been introduced. The figure of one binding his own head with a ribbon is said to resemble in appearance Pantarces, a stripling of Elis said to have been the love
of Pheidias. Pantarces too won the wrestling-bout for boys at the eighty-sixth Festival.
[11.4] On the other rods is the band that with Heracles fights against the Amazons. The number of figures in the two parties is twenty-nine, and Theseus too is
ranged among the allies of Heracles. The throne is supported not only by the feet, but also by an equal number of pillars standing between the feet. It is impossible to
go under the throne, in the way we enter the inner part of the throne at Amyclae. At Olympia there are screens constructed like walls which keep people out.
[11.5] Of these screens the part opposite the doors is only covered with dark-blue paint; the other parts show pictures by Panaenus. Among them is Atlas,
supporting heaven and earth, by whose side stands Heracles ready to receive the load of Atlas, along with Theseus; Perithous, Hellas, and Salamis carrying in her
hand the ornament made for the top of a ship's bows; then Heracles' exploit against the Nemean lion, the outrage committed by Ajax on Cassandra,
[11.6] Hippodameia the daughter of Oenomaus with her mother, and Prometheus still held by his chains, though Heracles has been raised up to him. For among the
stories told about Heracles is one that he killed the eagle which tormented Prometheus in the Caucasus, and set free Prometheus himself from his chains. Last in the
picture come Penthesileia giving up the ghost and Achilles supporting her; two Hesperides are carrying the apples, the keeping of which, legend says, had been
entrusted to them. This Panaenus was a brother of Pheidias; he also painted the picture of the battle of Marathon in the painted portico at Athens.
[11.7] On the uppermost parts of the throne Pheidias has made, above the head of the image, three Graces on one side and three Seasons on the other. These in
epic poetry are included among the daughters of Zeus. Homer too in the Iliad says that the Seasons have been entrusted with the sky, just like guards of a
king's court. The footstool of Zeus, called by the Athenians thranion, has golden lions and, in relief, the fight of Theseus against the Amazons, the first brave deed of
the Athenians against foreigners.
[11.8] On the pedestal supporting the throne and Zeus with all his adornments are works in gold: the Sun mounted on a chariot, Zeus and Hera, Hephaestus, and by
his side Grace. Close to her comes Hermes, and close to Hermes Hestia. After Hestia is Eros receiving Aphrodite as she rises from the sea, and Aphrodite is being
crowned by Persuasion. There are also reliefs of Apollo with Artemis, of Athena and of Heracles; and near the end of the pedestal Amphitrite and Poseidon, while
the Moon is driving what I think is a horse. Some have said that the steed of the goddess is a mule not a horse, and they tell a silly story about the mule.
I know that the height and breadth of the Olympic Zeus have been measured and recorded; but I shall not praise those who made the measurements, for even their
records fall far short of the impression made by a sight of the image. Nay, the god himself according to legend bore witness to the artistic skill of Pheidias. For when
the image was quite finished Pheidias prayed the god to show by a sign whether the work was to his liking. Immediately, runs the legend, a thunderbolt fell on that
part of the floor where down to the present day the bronze jar stood to cover the place.
All the floor in front of the image is paved, not with white, but with black tiles. In a circle round the black stone runs a raised rim of Parian marble, to keep in the
olive oil that is poured out. For olive oil is beneficial to the image at Olympia, and it is olive oil that keeps the ivory from being harmed by the marshiness of the Altis.
On the Athenian Acropolis the ivory of the image they call the Maiden is benefited, not by olive oil, but by water. For the Acropolis, owing to its great height, is
over-dry, so that the image, being made of ivory, needs water or dampness.
[11.11] When I asked at Epidaurus why they pour neither water nor olive oil on the image of Asclepius, the attendants at the sanctuary informed me that both the
image of the god and the throne were built over a cistern.
Those who think that the projections from the mouth of an elephant are not horns but teeth of the animal should consider both the elk, a beast of the Celtic land, and
also the Aethiopian bull. Male elks have horns on their brows, but the female does not grow them at all. Ethiopian bulls grow their horns on their noses. Who
therefore would be greatly surprised at horns growing out of an animal's mouth?
[12.2] They may also correct their error from the following considerations. Horns drop off animals each year and grow again; the deer and the antelope undergo this
experience, and so likewise does the elephant. But a tooth will never be found to grow again, at least after the animal is full-grown. So if the projections through the
mouth were teeth and not horns, how could they grow up again? Again, a tooth refuses to yield to fire; but fire turns the horns of oxen and elephants from round to
flat, and also into other shapes. However, the hippopotamus and the boar have tusks growing out of the lower jaw, but we do not see horns growing out of jaws.
[12.3] So be assured that an elephant's horns descend through the temples from above, and so bend outwards. My statement is not hearsay; I once saw an
elephant's skull in the sanctuary of Artemis in Campania. The sanctuary is about thirty stades from Capua, which is the capital of Campania. So the elephant differs
from all other animals in the way its horns grow, just as its size and shape are peculiar to itself. And the Greeks in my opinion showed an unsurpassed zeal and
generosity in honoring the gods, in that they imported ivory from India and Aethiopia to make images.
In Olympia there is a woollen curtain, adorned with Assyrian weaving and Phoenician purple, which was dedicated by Antiochus, who also gave as offerings the
golden aegis with the Gorgon on it above the theater at Athens. This curtain is not drawn upwards to the roof as is that in the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, but it is
let down to the ground by cords.
[12.5] The offerings inside, or in the fore-temple include: a throne of Arimnestus, king of Etruria, who was the first foreigner to present an offering to the Olympic
Zeus, and bronze horses of Cynisca, tokens of an Olympic victory. These are not as large as real horses, and stand in the fore-temple on the right as you enter.
There is also a tripod, plated with bronze, upon which, before the table was made, were displayed the crowns for the victors.
[12.6] There are statues of emperors: Hadrian, of Parian marble dedicated by the cities of the Achaean confederacy, and Trajan, dedicated by all the Greeks. This
emperor subdued the Getae beyond Thrace, and made war on Osroes the descendant of Arsaces and on the Parthians. Of his architectural achievements the most
remarkable are baths called after him, a large circular theater, a building for horse-races which is actually two stades long, and the Forum at Rome, worth seeing not
only for its general beauty but especially for its roof made of bronze.
[12.7] Of the statues set up in the round buildings, the amber one represents Augustus the Roman emperor, the ivory one they told me was a portrait of Nicomedes,
king of Bithynia. After him the greatest city in Bithynia was renamed Nicomedeia; before him it was called Astacus, and its first founder was Zypoetes, a Thracian
by birth to judge from his name. This amber of which the statue of Augustus is made, when found native in the sand of the Eridanus, is very rare and precious to men
for many reasons; the other ``amber'' is an alloy of gold and silver.
[12.8] In the temple at Olympia are four offerings of Nero -- three crowns representing wild-olive leaves, and one representing oak leaves. Here too are laid
twenty-five bronze shields, which are for the armed men to carry in the race. Tablets too are set up, including one on which is written the oath sworn by the Eleans
to the Athenians, the Argives and the Mantineans, that they would be their allies for a hundred years.