Figures N and O (Centaur and Lapith woman), West pediment, Temple of Zeus, Olympia
- Figures N and O (Centaur and Lapith woman), West pediment, Temple of Zeus, Olympia
- Cornell Cast Collection
- Unknown (Pausanias attributes the West pediment to Alkamenes, possibly erroneously)
- ca. 1890-1900
- probably Berlin, Germany (reproduction)|Olympia, Greece (original)
- Sage nos. 139-154|794
- Original Culture:
- Original Style:
- Work Type:
- casts (sculpture)
- plaster cast (sculpture)|marble sculpture in the round (original)
- Apollo (Greek deity)
Centauromachy (Greek mythology)
Ancient Olympia (Greece)
- Image View Description:
- from front
- Image View Type:
- This is a full-sized cast of a group of figures, N and O, from the West pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, identified as a Centaur and a Lapith woman. The pair struggles as the Centaur grabs the Lapith with his front horse legs and she attempts to repel him. On the viewer's right, the draped Lapith woman is depicted in three-quarter view facing left. Her upper body is twisted toward the Centaur as she pushes intently against his head with extended arms. Her lower body is turned in the opposite direction as she braces herself and makes an effort to run away. The full-bearded Centaur is depicted between profile and three-quarter views facing right. He stands on his hind legs with his front legs wrapped around the Lapith and right human arm extended behind him. In the original, much of the Centaur is preserved; the Lapith is missing her head and is in a fragmented state. A separated section of the Centaur's right hind leg was likely included in the cast but no longer remains with it. A small section of the Centaur's front lower right (proper) leg, just above the hoof, appears to have been broken away here. Some fragment joins visible in the original have been smoothed in this cast. Cornell's cast collection originally included full-sized figures from both the west and the east pediments of the temple, as recorded in the Sage Catalogue (ca. 1896). The figures from the west pediment gave their name to Cornell's Temple of Zeus Cafe, where they were on display when the cafe was sited in the space that is now Kaufmann Auditorium in Goldwin Smith Hall. The subject of the West pediment of the Temple of Zeus is a scene of battle between Lapiths and Centaurs at the wedding of Perithoos--king of the Lapiths and friend of Theseus--and Deidameia. Apollo watches over the chaotic scene, directing the action. After an earthquake in the sixth c. CE toppled the temple, its broken elements were gradually covered and protected under several meters of alluvial deposits from the Alpheios and Kladeos rivers. Many figures and fragments from the Olympia pediments were uncovered by German excavators in the final quarter of the 19th c. Excavations at the site are ongoing. Pausanias' description of the temple pediments (5.10.2-10) sheds great light on the subjects of the pediments and both clarifies and confuses the placement of the figures in relation to each other. Various arrangements of figures have been proposed and scholarly debate on the topic continues.
- Small section of the Centaur's front lower right leg, just above the hoof, is missing
otherwise good condition
- ID nos. 793-798 are a set of figures from the west pediment. Also included in the set are nos. 449, 436, and 474.
- Bernard Ashmole and Nicholas Yalouris, Olympia: The Sculptures of the Temple of Zeus (London: Phaidon, 1967).
Hans-Volkmar Herrmann, ed., Die Olympia-Skulpturen. Wege der Forschung, Band 577 (Darmstadt, 1987).
Andrew Stewart, Greek Sculpture (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990), 142-146, 253-254, figs. 262-276.
John Boardman, Greek Sculpture: The Classical Period (London: Thames and Hudson, 1985), 33-50, figs. 18-23.6.
Gipsformerei, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Katalog der Originalabgüsse, Heft 4, Griechenland und Rom: Freiplastik, pls. 76-79.
Georg Treu, Die Bildwerke von Olympia in Stein und Thon. Die Ergebnisse der von dem Deutschen Reich veranstalteten Ausgrabung, Band III (Berlin: Asher & Co., 1894-1897).
Judith Barringer, "The Temple of Zeus at Olympia: Heroes and Athletes," Hesperia 74 (2005), 211-241.
- Cornell University (current)
Olympia, Archaeological Museum (original)
- Repository Location:
- Goldwin Smith Hall (Room 174), Cornell University
- Collecting Program:
- Cornell Collections of Antiquities
- The images in the Cornell Collection of Antiquities: Casts are protected by copyright, and the copyright holders are their creators, generally Cornell University Library, Annetta Alexandridis, and Verity Platt. This collection of plaster casts owned by Cornell University was photographed by Cornell University Library, Alexandridis, Platt, and Andreya L. Mihaloew from 2010-2015, with funding from a Digital Collections in Arts and Sciences Grant to Annetta Alexandridis. Cornell is providing access to the materials for research and personal use. The written permission of any copyright and other rights holders is required for distribution, reproduction, or other use that extends beyond what is authorized by fair use and other statutory exemptions. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item and securing any necessary permissions ultimately rests with persons desiring to use the item. Please contact Annetta Alexandridis and Verity Platt for more information about this collection, or to request permission to use these images.
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