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Architectural Sculpture

If a polis was wealthy enough, they would decorate their temples with sculpture. Depending on the
order of the temple (Doric or Ionic), the sculpture would be on different areas of the structure:

Temple Decoration: Doric and Ionic:

The frieze of a Doric temple consists of triglyphs and…

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Problems with Pediments:

As a pediment is a long, low triangle, it presented a number of difficulties for Greek sculptors. The
shape of the pediment causes problems with the scale of figures; as if the central figure is to fill the
apex of the triangle they must be larger than…

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Although the West Pediment of the Temple of Aphaia at Aegina is sophisticated in its
solution of the problems regarding pediments, it is not as successful in other respects. The
sculpture shows the archaic sculptors' continued struggle to attain realism. The dying
warrior above shows many typically archaic traits:…

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However, there is a marked change in the appearance of the statues on the East pediment,
particularly the dying warrior:


The frontal emphasis of the Archaic Period has gone, and is replaced with a twist in the
warrior's physique.
The warrior's left arm and wrist droop, giving the impression…

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Myth on East Pediment: 460BC

The East pediment shows the mythical race between Pelops and King Oenomaos. The King
challenged any suitor of his daughter Hippodameia to a chariot race, confident that he
would always win due to his divine horses. The hero Pelops bribed the King's groom,

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innovative solution to the problem of filling the corners of the pediment's long, low,

East Pediment: Symbolism

The fact that Zeus stands in the centre of the East Pediment is a mark of respect for
the supreme deity as his statue would face the sun as it rose.

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West Pediment: Symbolism

The drunken, sex-crazed Centaurs represent the forces of barbarism. For the Greeks,
surrendering to animal appetites is an indication of chaos and irrationality. The Lapiths
represent the forces of order, reason, and civilisation ­ defending their customs and
institutions from the dark forces of barbarity.
This symbolism…

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Problems with Metopes:

There are several issues that have to be considered by a metope sculptor if the sculpture is to be

As metopes would be placed high up on the building, their position potentially
makes them difficult to see from the ground. One way of overcoming this issue…

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The sculptor has successfully coped with the limitations of the metope's frame in a number
of ways:

The Bull and Herakles leap away from one another, pushing against the confines of
the metope's square. This gives the composition a sense of drama and dynamic
The crossed figures of Herakles…

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Again, the sculptor has coped with the difficulties of sculpting a successful metope very

The frame of the metope is used to help convey the narrative: the top of the metope
is used to depict the sky that Herakles is holding up.
The differences between gods and mortals are…


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