Temple of Artemis at Corcyra

  • 590-580BC
  • Earliest major stone pediment in Greece we have. From a doric temple
  • Three separate stories - dont know what they all for sure but Medusa is in the middle flanked by her children. Two panthers on either side (Medusa and panthers are apotropaic meaning guardians of the temple -ward off evil spirits) Medusa is about 10ft high
  • Two scenes in corner less certain about - possibly Zeus with thunderbolt trying to kill a giant (battle of gods and giants) and other sided a seated figure thought to be Priam being threatened (representing fall of Troy)
  • Can see then that unity of theme did not interest this sculptor nor scale - massive gorgon in middle and tiny figures at sides. nor chronology - Medusa's children come out of her head when its cut off but she has head here and they are both present. Just trying to identify her as Medusa. 
  • Same time in vase painting was the move to myths and creatures espec. gorgons. 
  • Space filled quite well with 10ft figure reaching apex and outstretched wings of medusa. Panthers laid out filling sloped space (hardest part) Small figures filling corners but not realistic
  • early date suggested by choice of gorgon, more emphasis on narration, simple presentation e.g.symmetry of panthers (egyptian influence), snakes in hair and on belt, Medusa's arms and legs bent in opposite ways (archaic pose showing someone running) , not much detail e.g. simple drapery. repetition e.g. snakes in hair. 
1 of 7

Siphnian Treasury East Pediment

  • around 525BC
  • Herakles trying to steal tripod of Apollo
  • Zeus, king of gods, reaching apex as he can be legitimately taller than Apollo. stands in middle trying to wrestle back the tripod from both of them. 
  • Either side of Herakles and Apollo there are bystanders, legitimately smaller being mortals
  • There are chariots and they face towards corners
  • One three central figures are actually relevant - narrative not too great, too many unecessary extra figures. 
  • Not particularly successful design but in a way worse than corfu - at least they were meant to be 3 separate stories, here he is trying to make it all one. 
  • Space filled generally well 
  • Doesnt really feel like a struggle in the middle however. 
2 of 7

Aphaia at Aegina West/East Pediment

  • End of 6th C - they have overcome problems of filling awkward pediment space by designing battle scenes - can then legitimately have people at different levels
  • Depicts Trojan war with Agamemnon leading. 
  • Athena stands in centre filling apex but is not very involved 
  • Archers shoot outwards leading eyes over to the corners, but stop there. 
  • Quite nice how spears seem to mirror shape of apex however. 
  • Sculptures from the pediment - lying figure - doesnt really look like a character dying in pain, has the archaic smile. Greeks trying to convey a sense of life but this contradicts narrative 
  • Awful hair looks almost like a helmet, very formally arranged
  • East pediment beginning of 5th C - classical style. depicts earlier battle between Greeks and Trojans led by Herakles
  • Athena still present but in this one much more involved - outstretched arms makes your eyes follow that way to the archers near corners which direct you back in - makes you see whole pediment
  • Sculpture of person dying more improved - tries to pull sword from chest but rolls over almost on top of it. foot slips from edge, cannot even hold shield, no smile, developed musculature
  • no interest in decoration - figure wearing helmet - focus on realism, hes in battle
3 of 7

Zeus at Olympia East Pediment

  • Around 460BC
  • Depicts story of Oinomaos, King of Pisa, who would judge suitors for his daughter's hand. He would race the suitors and if he won he'd kill them. Pelops now trying in this pediment. - one of the versions of the story is that Pelops bribed Oinomaus' charioteer to tamper with chariot. 
  • Sculptor chosen to present the tense moment before the race has begun. 
  • Zeus in the centre (unseen) Oinomaus to the left explaining rules, Pelops on other side, bride next to Pelops adjusting veil, Oinomaus' wife next to her husband anxiously folding arms
  • Women wear simple peploi with few folds but clearly reveal their stances. 
  • nice balance of two contestants flanked by women and then chariots, the horses facing in. (improvement on arrangement of siphnian treasury- here everything is unified by the story - the chariots on siphnian werent relevant, here they are part of the race in the story)
  • Horses arranged so as to fit in the sloping sides. 
  • Gods representing rivers recline in the corners fill space nicely and add geographical precision to the scene
  • Various Figures:
  • Oinomaus - only one active, speaking
  • Pelops - listening attentively. There is contrast between the two couples and even within them of openness and inwardness - they are all intent on the race to come
  • Contrasts with the indifference of the servants - girl crouching at her mistress' feet or boy sitting playing with his toes. 
4 of 7

Zeus at Olympia East Pediment

  • Seer is very different in mood - raises fist to cheek in alarm - he is seeing the future 
  • Balding head and sagging flesh to show age - in contrast to anatomy of Pelops and Oinomaus and the boy's youth beside him. 
  • River gods personify rivers - body seems to emerge from drapery which looks like water flowing
  • Simplicity to carvings of figures - not much decoration. gives the sculptures more seriousness and devotion to the gravity of the scene
5 of 7

Zeus at Olympia West Pediment

  • Contrasts to east pediment this one is full of action - the figures are all in violent combat. 
  • Depicts battle of lapiths and centaurs
  • Similar composition to that at Aegina but here it is Apollo in the middle with extended arm at right angle to body giving effect of great stability and command. struggling figures in combat around him. 
  • On each side a hero fights to defend a woman from a centaur. Idea of men defending their women would have special significance with the Greeks just after Persian wars. 
  • Bride on Apollo's right in combat with a centaur, thrusting elbow in his face while she tries to pry his hand off her breast. at same time she tries to move his hand from her waist but he, although winces, holds secure and winds one hoof around her thigh. 
  • Although her body suggests her desperation and struggle her face is unmoved probably because the artist thought that would not accord with the dignity of such a queenly figure. 
  • Others' faces show emotion more freely e.g. lapith wrinkles brow and parts lips in pain as centaur bites him. 
6 of 7

Parthenon Pediments

  • Last part of the architectural sculpture to be completed. 
  • East Pediment illustrated birth of Athena - have lost quite a lot. Zeus must have been in middle Athene presumably next to him
  • Degrees of awareness about birth decreasing out to the sides - figures recling at the end arent even facing the middle
  • Nude male one side, clothed female on opposite side - balance using opposites. 
  • Seated godesses next to recling figures begin to face centre, taller seated figures next to them turn even more. Orderly progression of this twist over three figures - repeated on other side. 
  • Drapery can be used to enhance impression of movement e.g. messenger rushes up to seated goddesses, folds in the peplos swirl back in a double curve conveying haste. (motion lines)
  • Even though backs of pediments couldnt be seen sculpture was still finished on Parthenon
  • Difficulty with unity of scale on parthenon. Pediments considerably wider than those at Aegina and Olympia so it harder to proportionately represent figures on consistent scale
7 of 7


No comments have yet been made

Similar Classical Civilization resources:

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