Pausanias, Description of Greece, 5.11.5-5.11.6

τούτων τῶν ἐρυμάτων ὅσον μὲν ἀπαντικρὺ τῶν θυρῶν ἐστιν, ἀλήλιπται κυανῷ μόνον, τὰ δὲ λοιπὰ αὐτῶν παρέχεται Παναίνου γραφάς. ἐν δὲ αὐταῖς ἔστι μὲν οὐρανὸν καὶ γῆν Ἄτλας ἀνέχων, παρέστηκε δὲ καὶ Ἡρακλῆς ἐκδέξασθαι τὸ ἄχθος ἐθέλων τοῦ Ἄτλαντος, ἔτι δὲ Θησεύς τε καὶ Πειρίθους καὶ Ἑλλάς τε καὶ Σαλαμὶς ἔχουσα ἐν τῇ χειρὶ τὸν ἐπὶ ταῖς ναυσὶν ἄκραις ποιούμενον κόσμον, Ἡρακλέους τε τῶν ἀγωνισμάτων τὸ ἐς τὸν λέοντα τὸν ἐν Νεμέᾳ καὶ τὸ ἐς Κασσάνδραν παρανόμημα Αἴαντος, Ἱπποδάμειά τε ἡ Οἰνομάου σὺν τῇ μητρὶ καὶ Προμηθεὺς ἔτι ἐχόμενος μὲν ὑπὸ τῶν δεσμῶν, Ἡρακλῆς δὲ ἐς αὐτὸν ἦρται· λέγεται γὰρ δὴ καὶ τόδε ἐς τὸν Ἡρακλέα, ὡς ἀποκτείναι μὲν τὸν ἀετὸν ὃς ἐν τῷ Καυκάσῳ τὸν Προμηθέα ἐλύπει, ἐξέλοιτο δὲ καὶ αὐτὸν Προμηθέα ἐκ τῶν δεσμῶν. τελευταῖα δὲ ἐν τῇ γραφῇ Πενθεσίλειά τε ἀφιεῖσα τὴν ψυχὴν καὶ Ἀχιλλεὺς ἀνέχων ἐστὶν αὐτήν· καὶ Ἑσπερίδες δύο φέρουσι τὰ μῆλα ὧν ἐπιτετράφθαι λέγονται τὴν φρουράν. Πάναινος μὲν δὴ οὗτος ἀδελφός τε ἦν Φειδίου καὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ Ἀθήνῃσιν ἐν Ποικίλῃ τὸ Μαραθῶνι ἔργον ἐστὶ γεγραμμένον.

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De ces panneaux, la partie qui fait face aux portes est couverte seulement de peinture bleue foncée, les autres montrent des peintures de Panainos. Parmi celles-ci il y a Atlas, supportant le ciel et la terre, aux côtés duquel se trouve Héraclès pret à recevoir le fardeau d'Atlas; puis Thésée et Pirithoos, Hellas et Salamis qui tient dans sa main l'ornement de proue d'un navire; puis l'exploit d'Héraclès contre le Lion de Némée; l'outrage d'Ajax envers Cassandre; Hippodamie, la fille d'Oinomaos, avec sa mère; et Prométhée, toujours retenu par ses chaines, tandis qu'Héraclès le regarde. Parmi les histoires que l'on raconte à propos d'Héraclès, il y a celle qui dit qu'il tua l'aigle qui tourmentait Prométhée dans le Caucase et qu'il libéra Prométhée de ses chaines. À la fin de la peinture se trouve Penthésilée rendant l'âme soutenue par Achille; deux Hespérides transportant les pommes dont la légende dit qu'elles en avait la garde. [Ce Panainos était le frère de Phidias, il peignit aussi la bataille de Marathon à la Stoa Poikilé à Athènes].

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Commentary

  1. The text belongs to Pausanias' long description of the statue of Zeus made by Pheidias for Zeus' temple in Olympia, ca. 440-435 BCE (Pausanias 5.11.1-11 = Muller-Dufeu, 2002, text 872). The temple of Zeus is dated ca. 470-456 BCE.

  2. The chryselephantine (gold and ivory) statue of Zeus made by Pheidias was about 12 meters high. (Call. Iamb. 6. fr. 196; Strabo, 8.3.30; Hygin. Fab. 223. See Muller-Dufeu, 2002, texts 910-911). Zeus was represented sitting on a throne made of gold, ivory, precious stones and ebony. There were also paintings and inlaid reliefs (Paus. 5.11.2). This statue was a marvelous work of art, ranked among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (Clayton and Price, 1989, pp. 59-77). Today, the statue is lost. According to modern scholarship, the statue, after having been taken to Constantinople (modern day Istanbul, Turkey), was destroyed in a fire that took place in ca. 475 CE. Nevertheless, there is no trace of a three-dimensional copy. The general appearance of the statue is only known through reproductions on coins and gems dated ca. 430 BCE or later (See for example, the image attached, a coin from Elis, dated to the time of Hadrian's reign. Richter 1966; LIMC VIII s.v. Zeus 89; 497; 547; Lapatin, 2001, pp. 79-85; Davison, Lundgreen and Waywell, 2009, pp. 319-404. On the fate of the statues of Zeus in late Antiquity see Mango, Vickers, and Francis, 1992; Stevenson, 2007).

  3. Following Pausanias' description, it seems that Zeus' throne was closed by some sort of "screen" (eruma) which prevented access "under the throne" (upo ton thronon). Those screens were decorated with narrative paintings made by Panainos (on the painter Panainos see text 162). Pausanias' description seems to imply that the panels belong completely to the structure of the throne. But, this point is still debated among modern scholars: some argue that the “screens” were not part of the throne itself, but were set as a sort of barrier, placed between the columns of the cella that surrounded the throne, the pedestal and the black limestone pavement in front of the throne (on this point see: Strabo, 8.3.30; Dörpfeld, 1966, pp. 247-256; Völcker-Janssen, 1987; Davison, Lundgreen, and Waywell, 2009, pp. 338-340 with bibliography; Fink, 1967 excludes the paintings of Panainos from his study on the Throne of Zeus). Moreover, Pausanias indicates that the part "facing the doors" was painted in dark blue (kuanos). Therefore, modern scholars believe that the paintings were distributed on the remaining three sides of the throne or the barrier. The paintings are dated ca. 440-430 BCE.

  4. Pausanias provides a list of nine paintings, in which three -maybe four- are related to Heracles' exploits. In his commentary, Reinach reproduces the distribution of these nine paintings into three groups of three panels each, proposed by Brunn, Petersen, Overbeck, Collignon, as well as by Gardner (whose reconstruction is slightly different than the others) at the end of the nineteenth century (Petersen 1873, pp. 352-363; Brunn 1889, p. 121-123; Collignon 1892, p. 530; Gardner 1894; Reinach et al. 1921, pp. 170-171). However, when reading the text, the expression " among them” (en de autais)-i.e. “the paintings by Panainos"- seems to suggest that Pausanias is not describing all the paintings which decorated the throne or the barrier surrounding the throne. As is the case in the Propylaia (text 121), Pausanias makes a choice: he mentions only the paintings he judges interesting or worthy (or simply in a good state of conservation). That could explain some inconsistencies and the lack of a thematic link between the paintings. It seems reasonable also to say that, at the time of Pausanias, the paintings were not in their original state. Maybe they were replaced or moved in a different place than they were originally set up (McConnell 1984; see also Jacquemin in Pausanias 1999, p. 161). Moreover, archaeological and architectural studies on the temple of Zeus suggest that a lot of damages and repairs were due to one or two earthquake(s) which may have occurred either at the end of the fifth century/beginning of the fourth century BCE, or during the second century BCE. Likewise, Pausanias says that Demophon (ca. 175-150 BCE) had repaired Zeus’ statue, which got a crack, maybe after an earthquake (Dinsmoor 1941; McConnell 1984, pp. 163-164).

  5. The paintings listed by Pausanias are the following:

  6. Heracles and Atlas (LIMC V s.v. Herakles 2684). The adventure of Heracles in the Garden of the Hesperides was the penultimate of the twelve labors. The first written source to mention this labor is Pherekydes (ca. 480 BCE). In his account, Heracles does not steal the apples himself but made Atlas do it. While Heracles is holding up the sky on his shoulder, Atlas takes the golden apples (Pherek. FGrH 3F16, 17; scholion on Apoll. Rhod. 4.1396; LIMC V s.v. Herakles, pp. 100-101; Gantz, 1993, pp. 410-413). The scene was also pictured on one of the metopes of Zeus temple (Paus. 5.10.9). In addition, it was represented on the chest of Kypselos (Paus. 5.18.4), on a cedar-wood group made by Theocles for the Treasury of the Epidamnians at Olympia (Paus. 6.19.8) as well as on several black-figure and red-figure vases (LIMC V. s.v. Herakles 2676 to 2683). Maybe the painting was linked to the two Hesperides carrying the golden apples, cited by Pausanias later in the text. Pausanias says nothing more about the scene itself.

  7. Theseus and Peirithous (LIMC VII s.v. Peirithoos 96). Maybe the heroes were depicted in the Underworld, waiting for Heracles to deliver them (See text 117). Or maybe it was a portrait of the two heroes, underlining their friendship (Völcker-Janssen, 1987, pp. 14-16). Theseus, Peirithous, Greece, and Salamis (see below) were the major themes of Athenian propaganda around the middle of the fifth century BCE.
  8. Greece and Salamis (LIMC V s.v. Hellas 1; LIMC VII s.v. Salamis 1). The personification of Greece (Hellas) appears already in written sources in mid fifth century BCE (Aesch. Pers. 181-196). Salamis was pictured holding the stern-ornament (aphlasta) of a ship. This depiction symbolizes the naval victory of Athens at Salamis, during the Persian Wars. The statue of Apollo, offered by the Greeks in Delphi (Hdt. 8.121; Paus. 10.14.5), was also holding a stern-ornament, as well as Athena, Poseidon, and Nike on attic vase-painting around 480-460 BCE. (Thompson, 1944, pp. 201-205; Robertson, 1975, p. 317; Jacquemin in Pausanias 1999, p. 161). These personifications evoke the Greek victory at Salamis against the Persian fleet. They both aim to glorify Athens (LIMC VII s.v. Salamis, pp. 652-653; Völcker-Janssen, 1987, pp. 16-17).
  9. Heracles and the Nemean lion (LIMC VI s.v. Herakles 1924). According to written sources, the Nemean lion was the first of Heracles' labors, providing the source of his distinctive costume. The Nemean lion was the offspring of Orthos and the Chimaira -or Echidna-. It was raised by Hera and sent to terrorize Nemea (Theog. 326-332; Gantz 1993, pp. 383-384; LIMC VI s.v. Herakles, pp. 16-17). On the metopes of Zeus' temple at Olympia, Heracles is represented resting, after having slain the lion (Paus. 5.10.9). The Nemean lion is the most popular mythological scene depicted in antiquity with hundreds of representations. In fact, the earliest representations go back to the end of the seventh century BCE. Its two versions of this scene are attested alongside: the wrestling with bear hands -by far the most popular- and the fight with weapons (see: Felten in LIMC V s.v. Herakles pp. 30-33). Pausanias does not give any indication concerning the composition of the scene. For Völcker-Jansen, this picture is strongly linked to the Olympic Games, celebrating human achievement in athletic competitions (Völcker-Janssen, 1987, pp. 17-19).
  10. Ajax and Cassandra (LIMC VII s.v. Kassandra 109 = Aias II 108). According to Pausanias' phrasing, the painting alludes to the rape of Cassandra by Ajax during the Sack of Troy. This implies that the cult statue of Athena (xoanon) was certainly represented (Moret, 1975, pp. 11-27). Maybe Cassandra was pictured supplicating, on her knees, with her arms around the cult statue, while Ajax was dragging her by the hair or the arm? (see for example: a red-figure cup attributed to the Codros Painter, Paris, Musée du Louvre G458, ca. 440-430 BCE). On Ajax and Cassandra see also texts 107a and 116 (literary sources: LIMC I s.v. Aias II, pp. 336-337; Gantz 1993, pp. 650-657, esp. p. 655).
  11. Hippodameia with her mother Sterope (LIMC V s.v. Hippodameia 2). Hippodameia is the daughter of Oinomaos. She married Pelops, after he had won the chariot race against Oinomaos (Gantz 1993, pp. 540-545; LIMC V s.v Hippodameia, pp. 434-435). The scene was maybe represented on the East pediment of Zeus' temple (Paus. 5.17.7; LIMC V s.v. Hippodameia 16; on the East pediment as representing the reconciliation between Achilleus and Agamemnon see Patay-Horváth, 2004, 2007; Patay-Horwáth, 2015; Des Courtil, 2016). Maybe the painting refers to the chariot race or the wedding of Hippodameia? Maybe it was just two portraits?
  12. Heracles and Prometheus (LIMC VII s.v. Prometheus 55). In Theogony, Prometheus is the son of the titan Japet and Klimene. He was punished by Zeus for having deceived him twice. First for having fooled Zeus in the sharing of the parts of a cow between men and gods. Second for having stolen fire. In punishment, Prometheus was chained to a column. Each day, an eagle was sent by Zeus to devour Prometheus' liver which each night would grow back. Then (with the approval of Zeus), Heracles comes, kills the eagle and releases Prometheus from his bonds. In exchange, Prometheus tells Heracles how to steal the golden apples in the Garden of the Hesperides (Theog. 521-616; Aesch. Prometheus Bound; LIMC VII sv. Prometheus pp. 531-532; Gantz, 1993, pp. 154-156, 158-166). According to Pausanias, Heracles was pictured as about to deliver Prometheus, but nothing more is mentioned (was the eagle pictured or not?). In art, there are few representations of this episode. Most of them are on black-figure vase painting dated ca. 625-550 BCE or on south-Italian vase-painting of the middle fourth century BCE. (LIMC VII s.v. Prometheus 57-65 and 67-74, 77-79).
  13. The death of Penthesilea (LIMC I s.v. Achilleus 739). The story was told in the Aithiopis, a lost poem of the Epic Cycle (7th century BCE). The poem tells that the Amazon Penthesilea (of a Thracian stock and daughter of Ares) came to help the Trojans. She displayed great skills on the battlefield, but she was killed by Achilles. Later, Thersites revealed that at the time of killing Penthesilea, Achilles fell in love with her. In anger, Achilles slayed Thersites (Gantz 1993, pp. 621-622; LIMC I s.v. Achilleus, pp. 161-162). It seems that, on the throne of Zeus, Panainos had painted the very moment when Achilles falls in love with the dying Penthesilea. It is a very well-known scene, pictured since the seventh century BCE on shield-band reliefs as well as in vase-painting. For example, a red-figure cup attributed to the painter of Penthesilea, now housed in Munich, shows Penthesilea dying in the arms of Achilles (ca. 460/455 BCE, Munich, Mus. Antiker Kleinkunst 2688; Cf. LIMC I s.v. Achilleus 733).
  14. Two Hesperides with golden apples (LIMC V s.v. Hesperides 65 = Atlas 10 = Herakles 2689). According to Hesiod’s Theogony, the Hesperides were the daughters of Nyx (Night), who were guarding the tree bearing the golden apples on an island far beyond Okeanos (i.e. at the end of the earth). They were helped by a snake, child of Phorkys and Keto. According to Pherekydes, the tree was a gift by Gaia (Earth) to Hera for her wedding with Zeus. Hera planted the tree in the garden of the gods, near Atlas (Theog. 215-216, 274-275, 333-335; Pherek. FGrH 3F16; LIMC V s.v. Hesperides, pp. 394-396; Gantz 1993, pp. 6-7 and 410-413). The eleventh labor of Heracles was to steal the golden apples, in some versions with the help of Atlas (see above). Maybe this painting was linked to the one cited first in this list, depicting Heracles and Atlas (?). Nevertheless, the order in which Pausanias describes the pictures, is unclear. Maybe he starts from the middle of the throne and then goes around (?) (Jacquemin in Pausanias 1999, p. 162; Völcker-Janssen, 1987, p. 25).
Annotation Authors and Editors
Created by Valérie Toillon
Contributors:
  • Zachary Fletcher

Tags

  • zeus
  • pheidias
  • chryselephantine
  • olympia
  • hesperides
  • panainos
  • atlas
  • heracles
  • theseus
  • pirithoos
  • achilles
  • penthesilea
  • hellas
  • salamis
  • prometheus
  • hippodameia
  • sterope
  • ajax
  • cassandra
  • nemean
  • lion

Bibliography

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Clayton, P. A. 1989. The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. London: Routledge.

Collignon, M. 1892. Histoire de la sculpture grecque. Paris, Firmin-Didot et cie. Available at: http://archive.org/details/histoiredelascu00collgoog (Last accessed on March 30th, 2017).

Davison, C. C., Lundgreen, B. and Waywell, G. B. 2009. Pheidias: the Sculptures & Ancient Sources. London: Institute of Classical Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London.

Des Courtil, J. 2016. Review of András Patay-Horváth (ed.), New Approaches to the Temple of Zeus at Olympia: Proceedings of the First Olympia- Seminar, 8th-10th May 2014. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015 in Bryn Mawr Classical Review.

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Patay-Horwáth, A. Ed. 2015. New Approaches to the Temple of Zeus at Olympia: Proceedings of the First Olympia- Seminar, 8th-10th May 2014. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Petersen, E. A. H. 1873. Die Kunst des Pheidias am Parthenon und zu Olympia. Berlin, Weidmann. Available at: http://archive.org/details/diekunstdesphei04petegoog (Last accessed on March 30th, 2017).

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Völcker-Janssen, W. 1987. ‘Klassische Paradeigmata. Die Gemälde des Panainos im Zeus-Tempel zu Olympia’, Boreas: Münstersche Beiträge zur Archäologie, 10, pp. 11–31.

Annotation Authors and Editors
Created by Valérie Toillon
Contributors:
  • Zachary Fletcher