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The Poseidon or Zeus

May 18, 2013
The Artemision Bronze

The Artemision Bronze

The statue of Poseidon or Zeus, named the Artemision Bronze, was found off the coast of Euboea in Cape Artemision.

This sculpture is located in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. The sculptor of this piece is disputed; it has been attributed to Kalamis, Onatas or Myron. This debate extends as to whether or not the statue represents Zeus or Poseidon. Scholarship is divided on this subject as the missing attribute, the Trident (Poseidon) or Thunder Bolt (Zeus), is missing. Mylonas (1944:160) suggests that ‘the lack of any ruggedness, and the spiritual quality which emanates from the bronze, will…identify it as…Zeus.’ I would tend to agree as the pose certainly suggests the power and authority of the king of the gods. However, the debate will continue as there is no definitive way of making a clear identification.

The dramatic pose of the statue suggests to me that it should be a Thunderbolt in hand. I would suggest in addition to this that if there were a trident it would cover the majority of the upper body and face obscuring the sculptures profile. The thunder bolt would likely be shorter (as can be seen in other representations of Zeus) and as such would not cause an obstruction.

This is an excellent example of an early bronze sculpture. It is beautifully detailed and formed, some elements are missing such as the eyes, but there are very few statues where they are present (the only one I can immediately recall is the Delphi Charioteer).

Bibliography

Mylonas, G. ‘The Bronze Statue from Artemision’ American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 48, No. 2 (Apr. – Jun., 1944), pp. 143-160

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  1. Mysteria Misc. Maxima: May 24th, 2013 | Invocatio

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