The Bronze Status from Artemision

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Han Xueyuan

The Bronze Statue from Artemision The Bronze Statue from Artemision is made in Transition period and probably in Attica. It is made of bronze and depicts a naked man. As a result of its provenance and subject mater, scholars have debated whether the Bronze Statue from Artemision portrays an athlete or a god. Furthermore, they frequently attempt to identify which god, if any, this statue portrays 1. From its height (larger than life-size), the facial features, and the pose of the figure, I argue that this statue portrays the god Zeus, rather than an athlete or the god Poseidon.

This statue is made of bronze. It is 2.1 meters 2 in height and presents a nude man with a headdress and a beard. Overall, the whole body was shown in three-dimensions; we can see almost every part of the body. Moreover, the statue shows the man’s musculature in many parts of the body, including arms, forearms, chest, abdomen, back, buttocks, thighs and cruses. The proportions of the body were carefully calculated. Movements of the body could also be perceived: he opens his left arm and left forearm stretching out almost straight and his right forearm stretching out upwards. The five fingers of his left hand are stretching out, pointing to the left when you view the statue from its front, while the five fingers of his other hand are positioned differently: except his forefinger and his thumb, the rest of the three fingers are bending toward his palm. His forefinger is slightly stretching out compared with the rest of his three fingers and his thumb is completely stretching out. His right foot is located behind his left foot with his left foot pointing toward the left when you view the statue from the front. His right 1

George E. Mylonas, The Bronze Statue from Artemision (New York: Archaeological Institute of America, 1944), 143-160 2

George E. Mylonas, The Bronze Statue from Artemision (New York: Archaeological Institute of America, 1944), 143-160 1

Han Xueyuan

heel does not touch the ground, which implies that his right foot is tiptoed. He is looking to the left, the direction of his left arm, and his whole body is slightly inclining to the left as his right foot is tiptoed. These features are very similar to those that we can find from many Greek Classical Period statues, such as the Charioteer and Spear-bearer. According to the reliable resource, it is more accurately dated to the Transitional Period (the period between Early Classical Period and High Classical Period, ca. 460-450 B.C.E.)3. However, the provenance of this statue is not clear. Although it was discovered at Artemision, it is very likely that this statue was made at Athens or Sikyon, where many large life-sized statues were made. If this is the case, then, the sculptor who was a professional in making large sculptures, such as Polykleitos, who sculpted the Spear-bearer (2.12 m) and Myron, who sculpted the Discobolos (1.55 m), might have accomplished this statue.

The date and the location give us some hints about whom the sculptor intended to portray. At this time, the Olympic games were held in Athens and people in Greece worshipped the god Zeus and the god Poseidon. Thus, three possibilities arise: first, it may portray the winner of the Olympic games since it was customary in Ancient Greece to build a sculpture for the winner to commemorate his triumph and glorify his outstanding ability. Second, it may portray the god Zeus whom Greek people went to the sanctuary to worship, and third, the god Poseidon. Carefully analyzing the statue and falsifying the other two possibilities can help us to get to the conclusion that only the second possibility is valid.

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George E. Mylonas, The Bronze Statue from Artemision (New York: Archaeological Institute of America, 1944), 143-160 2

Han Xueyuan

First, I will prove that it is impossible that the statue portrays an athlete. One of the problems to link the statue to divinity is nudity. From Ancient...
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