Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Liakos, Dimitri

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Art


Aeschylus--Oresteia; Temple of Zeus (Olympia; Greece); Sculpture; Greek--Greece--Olympia; Mythology; Greek; in art; Pediments--Greece--Olympia; Temples; Greek--Greece--Olympia; Mythology; Greek


This thesis focuses on the use of traditional myth in literature, specifically the Oresteia, and in sculpture, specifically the pediments of the temple of Zeus at Olympia. Traditional myth, used as a didactic tool, was portrayed to teach the Greeks who they were, what they might become, the right order of things and reverence for the gods (eusebia). It is in this frame of reference that the Oresteia of Aeschylus and the pediments of the temple of Zeus are examined. Chapter I proffers a definition of myth through which the dramatist and sculptor tried to motivate the Greeks to question tradition. Furthermore, the Greeks' innate quest for freedom is discussed. Chapter II discusses the Oresteia by Aeschylus. The trilogy, i.e, The Agamemnon, The Choephoroe, and The Eumenides, demonstrates and optimistic conclusion in which harmony and balance of opposing forces lead to peace and order. Chapter III examines the physical setting and characteristics of the temple of Zeus at Olympia. Chapter IV describes the myth on the east pediment at Olympia: the chariot race between Pelops and Oenomaos for the hand of Hippodameia. Along with the much debated placement of figures, the pediment displays the sculptor's ability to portray new concepts, i.e., motion and emotion. Chapter V describes the myth on the west pediment at Olympia: the battle of the Centaurs and Lapiths at the wedding of Peirithoös. The pediment wildly and violently symbolizes the struggle towards the right order of things. Chapter VI concludes that myth acted as a tool through which literature and the visual arts motivated the Greeks to ponder the ethical problems inherent in tradition. Through centuries of social and political struggle, they were to realize that only balance or dike could maintain their culture.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [85]-88)


vii, 151 pages




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