Metopes

HideShow resource information

Herakles and Kerkopes

  • 575-550BC
  • Made of limestone and comes from temple C at Selinus
  • Quite top heavy (though arguably at its height you wouldnt see the bottom part)
  • Quite geometric - triangles made with Herakles' legs and Kerkopes' legs.
  • story: while Herakles sleeps they stole his weapons but he awoke, caught them and tied them upside down tied to a pole cand carrying them not. 
  • Symmetry aesthetically pleasing, Kerkopes mirroring each other
  • Repetition - hair curls hanging down in the same way - doesnt look very natural but fitting with this idea of symmetry and at least an attempy to show effects of gravity. 
  • Huge bulging eyes - not very realistic but typical of the time
  • Twist in Herakles' body - full frontal torso but profile legs
  • Torso very broad but arms quite short and stocky - not right proportions
  • Generally fills space quite well and tells a story. 
1 of 8

Heroic Cattle Raid

  • The Dioskouroi and sons of Aphareus metope from the Sikyonian Treasury 
  • 575-550BC
  • Good use of metope - figures use all the space
  • Procession all in one direction. (good repetition) eyes follow direction figures are walking
  • Hands all on spears in the same places, cattle all symmetrical (repeated)
  • Bodies each all facing one way for once - looks more natural and realistic
  • Cattle raid conducted by two pairs of heroic brothers (one bit lost)
  • Figures full height holding spears at same angle and walk in step with cattle. All legs seem very well aligned
  • Repeated pattern along - gap with spears and frontal cattle heads almost ties the image together.
2 of 8

Zeus at Olympia: Nemean Lion

  • Theme of metopes at Zeus at Olympia is the labours of Herakles set by Eurystheus and well chosen as it provided both a coherent story for the whole series allowing a self contained episode for each metope. 
  • In this metope (a popular labour to depict) the fight is actually over and the lion is dead and lies at the bottom of the metope.
  • Herakles instead of looking triumphant as one would expect, looks weary as he reasts his elbow on his knee and head in hand
  • We see this beginning of humanisation here - he is already exhausted and this is the first labour
  • Athena stands by looking on sympathetically. 
  • fragment of a foot suggests Hermes was there too
3 of 8

Zeus at Olympia: Creten Bull, Apples of Hesperides

  • In this struggle he is shown alone 
  • Simple but powerful composition is based on two crossing diagonals (something that will become a basis of many later compositions)
  • The two contestants, Herakles and the Bull, strain away from each other  but Herakles has pulled the bull's head so as to confront him head on.
  • Reward for the labours was immortality and this is symbolically indicated in the metope of him trying to get golden apples of the Hesperides
  • This is where he is said to have been tricked into holding the heavens for Atlas
  • on the metope Atlas is shown on the right striding towards Herakles holding the apples 
  • Herakles' stillness contrasts with Atlas' freedom of walking pose. 
  • 3 figures fill space well - three simple verticals with contrast of horizontals of Atlas' arms
  • Variety of pose Atlas can be seen in 3/4 view, Herakles profile and Athena full frontal
  • Athena on other side of Herakles holding hand up to the top to ease his burden 
  • She wears heavy peplos falling in deep sparse folds. 
  • The technique of showing woman form is becoming clear - straight folds interrupted by portruding knee to show form. 
4 of 8

Zeus at Olympia: Augean Stables

  • Herakles is shown to have matured (again very human) when in this labour, cleaning the Augean Stables. 
  • He is bearded and confident in the midst of action. 
  • The metope had a speical place on the temple as it was out of chronological order because it represented a local event - it was placed at the climax, the very end of the series, on far right
  • Athena's calm vertical figure contrasts with Herakles' acitvity 
  • Can see strong opposing diagonals formed by his arms and legs. 
  • Athena's arm, held roughly parallel to Herakles' gives a subtle gesture of support. 
5 of 8

Parthenon: Metope 1

  • Originally 92 metopes in total - so had to think of something to fill them all
  • Dated from about 447-442BC
  • Each side depicts a mythical battle 
  • South Metopes show Centauromachy 
  • Different sculptors and interpretations - some depicted centaurs with barbaric faces some with kindly faces. 
  • This metope shows a centaur rearing holding a rock in one hand about to deliver a blow to the Lapith in his arm. 
  • At the same time the Lapith thrusts a weapon into the centaur's flank 
  • Poses carefully arranged to fill space
  • Head of the centaur particularly distinguished by its ruggedness 
6 of 8

Parthenon: Metope XXVI and Metope XXVII

  • Shows work of a less accomplished sculptor
  • All the interest is bunched up in the centre - blank expanse to the right. 
  • Figures are awkward and harsh lines indicate musculature. 
  • Centaur seems to have no neck and the face is crude and ill executed
  • Lapith's drapery meant to be slipping from his arm as he engages in the fight but theres a missing bit between left arm and left leg. 
  • In this metope Lapith and centaur are pulling away from each other simplar to the bull metope at Olympia. 
  • Lapith's cloak falls behind in deep U shaped folds called catenaries
  • This mass of folds and shadows it creates dramatically contrasts with light expanse of Lapith flesh.
  • Figures fill whole metope going right out to the sides.
7 of 8

Parthenon: Metope XXVIII

  • Lapith lies along bottom of metope crumpled in death. 
  • Triumphant centaur rears over body 
  • Left arm extended parallel to body
  • Animal skin hangs from the centaur's arm - falls vertically echoing human part of body. 
  • Slanting horse body crossing lapith's straight legs provide two diagonals to link upper and lower parts of the metope.
8 of 8

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar Classical Civilization resources:

See all Classical Civilization resources »See all Art and Architecture resources »