Drawing of the Temple of Olympian Zeus by Christian Perlberg, 1838

  • begun ca. 520 B. C. by the tyrants Hippias and Hipparchos, sons of Peisistratos
    • on the site of an earlier sanctuary dedicated to Zeus
    • intended to be the largest temple in the world
    • original style was Doric
    • construction ended in 510 B. C., when the tyranny was overthrown

  • construction began anew in 174 B. C. under the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who saw himself as the earthy embodiment of Zeus
    • style was changed to Corinthian
    • in 164 B. C., with the temple about half done, Antiochus died, and construction halted

  • the temple was completed during the reign of the Roman emperor Hadrian (A. D. 117 - 138)
    • housed an enormous chryselephantine statue of Zeus
    • a huge statue of Hadrian stood behind the temple

  • the Herulians severely damaged the temple when they sacked Athens in A. D. 267
    • it was never rebuilt, and most of the structure was carted off to be used in other buildings