Museum Olympia

The museum The museum of Olympia is without doubt one of the most important museums for the knowledge of ancient Greece. The museum houses a huge number of votive offerings and other sculptures, including some of Greece’s finest works of art.
For Example:
The Hermes of Praxiteles, a splendid example of a fourth century sculpture, depicting the god Hermes carrying the baby Dionysos on his arm.
The statue, mentioned by Pausanias in the Hera Temple, has actually been found amidst its fragments.

The Nike of Paionios, a sculptor from Mende in Chalkidiki, who also made the acroteria of the temple of Zeus. The monument, erected, according to Pausanias, in honor of a victory of the Messenians over the Spartans in 421 B.C., was probably  established to celebrate a number of victories together. With her robe glued to her body (by the wind), the statue is a beautiful example of a late 5th century female statue, dating from a period when the sculptors became fascinated by female anatomy, but probably felt inhibited to depict a woman naked. Together with the wings the statue must have been over 3 m. high, but standing on a triangular pedestal almost 9 m. high, it must have been even more impressive. The inscription on the plinth has partly been preserved.




Of great importance are the facade sculptures of the great temple of Zeus.Those on the front of the Temple of Zeus (Pausanias 10.10.8) represents a so-called Kentauromachie. On the wedding of the Thessalian king Peirithoos, also the Kentaurs were invited. After some time,  the wedding turned into a fierce fight, when the Kentaurs – overheated by the wine – tried to assault the female wedding guests. A Kentauromachie was depicted on many Greek temples in the 5th century as a symbol of the Greek struggle against the barbarians, a battle that the Greeks naturally won. Pausanias’ statement that the figure in the middle represents Peirithoos cannot be correct. Given the size of the central figure (larger than the mortals), this must be a god, presumably the god Apollo as the peacemaker.

As an example of the many smaller votive offerings, three small archaic bronze plates are shown here, decorated with beautifully engraved myths.
The first shows a detail of the battle between the Lapiths and Kentaurs, also known as Kentauromachie. Pictured here is the Lapith Caineus, who was endowed by the gods with invulnerability, and therefore a formidable adversary to the Kentaurs. In an (often depicted) attempt to get rid of him, the Kentaurs knocked him straight into the ground.
On the second bronze plate we see how a warrior says goodbye to his wife and child at the moment he gets on his chariot.
The third bronze plate shows, among other things, how Orestes, the son of the murdered Agamemnon, takes revenge by stabbing his mother (who had planned the murder).

Also beautiful is the terracotta statue of Zeus, kidnapping the Trojan prince Ganymede. Zeus was so charmed by the boy that he decided to kidnap him and bring him to Olympos. There he provided him with eternal youth, and instructed him to be his personal wine-giver at parties. Of course, Hera, the wife of Zeus, was less charmed by this situation. The Roman poet Virgil mentions the robbery of Ganymede as one of the grievances Hera (Juno) has against the Trojans, reason for plotting the destruction of the city, and of all the Trojan people.

There are also numerous statues from the Roman period, including the almost complete set of statues of Herodes Atticus and his family, from the Nymphaion.

Votive helmet dedicated by the  Athenian statesman Miltiades (5th century).