What challenges faced the sculpture(s) of the metopes on The temple of Zeus at Olympia? Which of the 12 do you think was dealt best with these challenges? The sculpture faced several challenges when depicting the twelve labours of Heracles and tried to unite the idea that all the tasks were imposed on Herakles by Eurystheus, King of Mycenae. One of the strongest metopes illustrated is Heracles struggle with the Cretan Bull, where the two crossing diagonals, with the head and the right foreleg of the bull pulled back in order that its body can occupy the entire breadth of the metope. The bulls head is wrapped around so the man and the beast can confront each other. The sculpture has successfully been able to bring interest towards the centre as well as the corners of the metope. The heads of both Herakles and the bull are turned back and face each other in order to knit the composition even more closely together.
However, it is clear that the sculpture faced some problems when trying to show Cerberus in the eleventh metope. The three headed dog is not there, instead there is only one head which suggests the sculpture has had spacing issues as he ran out of space to fit in the three headed dog. It was difficult to get in the detail and depth of the dog and still have room for the tug. It seems there were challenges in the use of scale as the dog is very small whereas in the myth it would be much larger in scale as it’s guarding and protecting the underworld. Although, the sculpture has been successful when showing Heracles is in control. He is looking straight down at the dog, a ‘power stare’, which allows him to keep a weary eye on the dog. His body is leaning away showing the strength of the dog which is evident as he is balancing his weight on his back leg and the stance of his feet are pressing down hard on the rock to give him stability.
The sculpture has overcrowded some of the metopes and the
overlapping figures make it difficult to instantly...
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