This statuette of Zeus is regarded as one of the most beautiful images of this deity from the early Classical period. The god is naked and is portrayed as if he is striding forward with great energy. He unleashes his bolt of lightning with his raised arm to carry out his divine will. The plasticity of the body and this extremely concentrated, forward movement evoke the power and dignity of this god. The proportions of the body are masterfully reproduced and the taut, swollen muscles covered by an even, glossy patina demonstrate extraordinary craftsmanship. The face with its straight nose, large eyes and thin lips has a serious, determined expression. It is framed by the beard and a thick crown of hair above the forehead. Very fine lines have been carefully incised with a graver for the hair, and similarly meticulous work can be seen in the finishing of the fingers and toes with nails and the pubic hair above the genitals. This great pose can also be seen in the famous, larger than life-size statue of the god found in the sea at Cape Artemision – today in the National Museum at Athens. It is an old motif that reaches its highpoint in these two works – the massive image of the god from the sea and this small statuette. Our statuette was found in the sanctuary of Zeus in Dodona. Dodona is situated in Epirus in northwest Greece and is, together with Olympia, one of the oldest sanctuaries dedicated to Zeus. The statue was erected there as a votive offering to the god. As the traces of soldering under the foot of the statuette prove, it was once attached to a plinth. A pious pilgrim may have brought it here to Dodona on one of his arduous journeys across the land from the Peloponnese, perhaps from Corinth, or it may have arrived at the sanctuary via a trade route from one of the Corinthian settlements on the coast of the Ionic Sea. Alternatively, the statuette may well have been made in Ancient Epirus; it is assumed that there were workshops making bronze statuettes in Ambracia. The town was founded in the 7th century BCE by Gorgos from Corinth, son of the powerful Corinthian tyrant Cypselus, and was the starting point of a trade route running northwards along the Oropos river to Dodona. The workshops of Ambracia became known for their stylistic quality, the plasticity of their work and their remarkably good casting techniques.


  • Title: Zeus, thunderbearer
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: -470/-460
  • Location: Dodona
  • Physical Dimensions: h13,5 cm
  • Type: Statuette
  • Medium: Bronze
  • Object acquired: Acquired in 1904
  • Inv.-No.: Misc. 10561
  • ISIL-No.: DE-MUS-814319
  • External link: Altes Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyrights: Text: © Verlag Philipp von Zabern / Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Ulrich Gehrig || Photo: © b p k - || Photo Agency / Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Johannes Laurentius
  • Collection: Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz

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