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Philippeion at Olympia

Date

339-300 BC

Size

Diameter 15.24m

Materials

Limestone covered in stucco for main structure.

Marble for decoration and columns.

Function

Initially to commemorate Philip of Macedon’s victories in chariot races at Olympia, but also Chaironeia 338 BBC in which he gained control of virtually all mainland Greece.

After his assassination it was completed as memorial to father by Alexander the Great.

Traditional elements

Limestone covered with stucco for main structure and marble for any sculptural decoration.

Circular peristyle on a 3 step stylobate surrounding circular naos as at Epidauros to provide shelter and show-case for statues celebrating athletics (as convention) not military (not unprecedented – Paionios’ Nike) but use of chryselephantine instead of marble/bronze as adjacent chryselephantine Zeus.

Layout and proportion

See above.

Combining the orders

18 external Ionic columns, striking clash with Doric of e.g. Temple of Zeus, unusually with volutes on all 4 sides because of curve.

Supporting frieze which included solecism of Doric dentils.

9 engaged Corinthian columns inside.

Interior and exterior decoration

Huge bronze poppy head on apex of conical roof.

Windows in naos wall probably provided view of chryselephantine statues of Philip II o, wife Olympias, mother Eurydike and son Alexander decoratively displayed within encircling Corinthian half-columns etc.

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