Stoa of Zeus

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Description

An earlier and much smaller building and an altar, probably both dedicated to Zeus, were destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC. Ironworks and potteries then occupied the site until the construction of the stoa around 435 BC.

The Stoa of Zeus Eleutherios (liberator) was built to the south of the Stoa Basileios. Its outer columns were of the Doric order and its inner ones of the Ionic order. The stoa had wings at its north and south ends. The east facade of each wing was similar to the facade of a temple with Nike as top akroteria and corner akroterion of unknown form. This stoa was a renowned meeting place. Indeed, Sokrates often met his friends there.

The stoa was built on a poros foundation and its lowest platform was of ash-grey marble. The rest of the building was of Hymettian marble to the exception of the frieze which was made of poros. The roof was covered with terracotta tiles.

Inside the stoa, a continuous bench ran along the west and south walls. The interior walls were stippled. On these walls were hung the shields of Athenians who had died defending Athens.

Statue of Zeus Eleutherios

Drawing representing a bronze statue of Zeus made about 460-450 BC. Source: Sophie Maheux
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Drawing representing a bronze statue of Zeus made about 460-450 BC. Source: Sophie Maheux

A statue of Zeus Eleutherios stood on a pedestal in front of the stoa.

The accompanying drawing illustrates a possible representation of this statue of Zeus. This bronze statue was made about 460-450 BC. Zeus has his left arm outstretched and his right arm drawn back to throw an object now missing, probably a thunderbolt.

N.B.: Some believe that this sculpture represents Poseidon with a (missing) trident.

Later Features

Around 350 BC, wall paintings were hung inside the stoa. These were painted by Euphranor and represented respectively: the Twelve Gods, a group of Theseus, Democracy and the People, and the Battle of Mantinea.

Around 350 BC, the back of the stoa (west side), near the steep slope of the Kolonos Agoraios, was protected by a retaining wall made of squared blocks.

The annex, consisting of two rooms, behind the stoa was built in the 1st century AD and was probably dedicated to the cult of the Roman Emperor.

References

American School of Classical Studies at Athens; The Athenian Agora: A Guide to the Excavation and Museum, 1990

Camp, John M.; The Archaeology of Athens, Yale University Press, 2001, pp. 104-105

Connolly, Peter and Hazel Dodge; The Ancient City - Life in Classical Athens & Rome, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998

Davis, W. S.; A Day in Old Athens, 1910

Travlos, John, Pictorial dictionary of Ancient Athens, Books that matter, New York, 1971, p. 527

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