In this essay, I will specifically be discussing the use of movement and characterisation in the two pediments of the Temple of Zeus, and how they enhance the narrative of the two stories depicted. I will also explore how the sculpture on these pediments represent the ‘flourishing’ period of Classical Greece - a period when the Greeks were celebratory of their defeat of the Persians, and when new ideas were starting to emerge from sculptors adapting concepts from Greek drama and philosophical ideas.
In his publication, E.N. Gardener argues against the lack of appreciation for the sculptures on the east and west pediments of the Temple of Zeus:
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...fazed by the fact that she is being carried off by a drunken half man half horse creature on her own wedding day (see fig 6). The fact that she is a female victim does not make her exempt from expressing the appropriate civilised ‘Greek’ countenance.
In conclusion, the characterisation depicted on the west pediment enhances the narrative concerning the idea of civilisation vs barbarism, and the use of movement enhances the fast pace of the narrative. The philosophical concepts surrounding fifth century Greece reinforced the awareness of human emotional expression and how to conduct oneself with a manner of self-restraint, and the Lapiths on the west pediment certainly reflects this. In the east pediment, themes from Greek tragedy and the characterisation featured in figures such as the old seer heightens the tension, which in turn enhances the narrative.
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