The Artemision Zeus, by Karissa Hurzeler

Off of Cape Artemision a bronze statue dating to c. 470 BCE was found. He is Zeus, poised to hurl a lightening bolt. Artemision Zeus is a freestanding statue with a full 3D effect. He stands with his left leg  bent forward and his right arm back in a throwing position. Zeus’ head is turned to the left as he stares out over his left arm, calculating his aim.

The Artemision Zeus has no definite front side, but instead he stands with his body open, his focus over his arm. From two sides he is a flat figure, but from the others he is three-dimensional. Artemision Zeus is a statue meant to be viewed from all angles; he is meant to stand amidst onlookers. His form follows the pattern of an X; he is flat, but also twists like an X.  His left arm and right leg are straight and stiff, while his right arm and left leg are bent. His body and his head face perpendicular planes, and even his feet are facing perpendicular directions.  The lines of his body create an enigma, as does the sculpture itself. Artemesion Zeus is different from different sides; he can be a flat figure or a three-dimensional one.

In the mid-5th century BCE Aeschylus of Attica, “Zeus, whose will has marked for man/ the one way where wisdom lies,/ ordered one eternal plan:/ Man must suffer to be wise./ Head-winds heavy with past ill/ stray his course and cloud his heart./ Sorrow takes the blind soul’s part:/ Man grows wise against his will.” Aeschylus displays a disconnected attitude toward Zeus, the almighty god. Aeschylus separates man from the gods; the gods are no longer toiling in the lives of men. Aeschylus writes about Zeus as a hands-off god.

The Artemision Zeus is in a powerful pose, but demonstrates the same relationship to man that Aeschylus displays in his writing. Previously, Zeus would be seated or standing meddling in the lives of mortals, but the Artemision Zeus stands alone ready to hurl a lightening bolt. It is a powerful stance that shows Zeus is the lightening-wielding god, but nothing about him meddles in the lives of man. He is a distinct god, powerful and standing alone. Artemision Zeus embraces a changed relationship between gods and men. From one view he appears flat, a figure to be looked at, but from another view he appears ready to attack. This is Zeus being looked at, not looking down upon.  He stands defined as an individual, not just a meddling god.

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