Feidias and the Acropolis

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Pheidias and Classical Athens
Pheidias (480 BC – 430 BC), the son of Charmides of Athhens, was a Greek sculptor, painter and architect, who lived in the 5th century BC, and is regarded as one of the greatest of all sculptors of Classical Greece. His teachers were Hegias and Ageladas. His statue of Zeus at Olympia was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Pheidias also designed the statues of the goddess Athena on the Athenian Acropolis, namely the Athena Parthenos inside the Parthenon and the Athena Promachos, a colossal bronze statue of Athena which was visible from the sea. Before the Peloponnesian war, Pheidias was accused of embezzling gold intended for the statue of Athena inside the Parthenon. Pericles’ enemies found a false witness against Pheidias, named Menon, but Pheidias proved his innocence by taking down all the golden plates and weighing them. However he was accused of arrogance because he had engraved his portrait along the one of Aspasia (Pericles’ wife) on the back side of Athena’s shield. Pheidias died in prison after he had created the statue of Zeus in Olympia, when he was accused again for stealing gold from the statue,
Though no original works in existence can be confidently attributed to him with certainty, numerous Roman copies are known to exist. This is not uncommon. Almost all classical Greek paintings and sculptures have been destroyed, and only Roman copies or notes of them exist. Ancient critics thought highly of his work. What they especially praise is the ethos or permanent moral level of his works as compared with those of the later so called "pathetic" school..
Of his life we know little apart from his works. His first commission was a group of national heroes with Miltiades as a central figure.The famous statesman Pericles also commissioned several sculptures for Athens from him in 447 BC, to celebrate Greek victory against the Persians at the Battle of Marathon during the Greco-Persian Wars (490 BC). Pericles used some of the money from the treasury of Delos to rebuild and decorate Athens, which had been burnt by the Persians, to celebrate this victory.
In 1958 archaeologists found the workshop at Olympia where Pheidias assembled the gold and ivory Zeus. There were still some pieces of ivory at the site, moulds and other casting equipment, and a black glaze drinking cup engraved "I belong to Pheidias".
Among the ancient Greeks themselves two works of Pheidias far outshone all others, the colossal chryselephantine figures in gold and ivory of Zeus (432 BC) on the site where it was erected in the temple of Zeus at Olympia, Greece, and of Athena Parthenos (literally, "Athena the Virgin") a sculpture of the Greek virgin goddess Athena named after an epithet for the goddess herself, and was housed in the Parthenon in Athens. Both sculptures belong to about the middle of the 5th century BC. From the 5th century BC, the copies of the statue of Zeus found were small copies on coins, which give us but a general notion of the pose, and the character of the head. His body was of ivory, his robe of gold.
In antiquity Pheidias was celebrated for his statues in bronze, and his chryselephantine works (statues made of gold and ivory). In the Hippias , Plato claims that Phidias seldom, if ever, has executed works in marble, though many of the sculptures of his times were executed in marble. Plutarch tells us that he superintended the great works of Pericles on the Acropolis. It is possible that most sculptural decoration of the Parthenon was the work of Pheidias' atelier but supposedly made by pupils of Pheidias, such as Alcamenes and Agoracritus. Our actual knowledge of the works of Phidias is still very small.