Art of Ancient Greece


Ancient Greeks have been known to have constructed many magnificent temples during their time and these have come to be revered up to present day. What normally catch the viewer’s eye are the sculptural designs and the enormous stones used to construct the temples (Marilyn, 2007). Much detail was paid and bright colors were used.

Examples of such wonders of ancient Greek are the Athena Nike temple and the Olympian Zeus temple.


The temple of Athena Nike was regarded as a place of worship for different gods connected to war during the Bronze Age. It is located southwest of the plateau of Acropolic next to Propylaia (Marilyn, 2007). While excavation activities were going on at the site, a large pit was discovered and it was believed to be used by the Bronze Age Greeks to pour libations as well as place ancient collectibles in honor of their different deities. Its construction began in 435 BCE and completed in 420 BCE (Ibid, 2007).

On the other hand, the temple of Olympian Zeus was constructed in Greece in the 6th Century by an architect named Peisistratos but was halted in 510 BC (Marilyn, 2007). Unlike the temple of Athena Nike, this particular temple was constructed out of arrogance of the Greek people. They believed that they were equal to the gods thus constructed the temple in a gigantic manner. Due to its enormous size, efforts to rebuild it were futile up until the 3rd century where it resumed under the rule of Antiocus IV who wanted to construct the largest temple in the world (Ibid, 2007).

The temple of Athena Nike had a figurine of Athena Nike, the goddess of victory in the temple’s cellar, carved from wood. It was depicted as holding a helmet in its left hand and a pomergrade in its right hand (Marilyn, 2007). Majority of Nike statues had wings on them but the Athena one did not possess any at that particular time. This is because the Bronze Age Greeks believed that by not carving wings onto the statue, it would never be able to leave the city of Athens (Marilyn, 2007).

The temple of Athena Nike was constructed in 449 BC by an architect known as Kallikrates (Marilyn, 2007). It was a simple structure which included a prostyle porch having four columns front and back and also was made of Pentellic marble having a sculptural wall painting all around it (Ibid, 2007). Decorations were of relief sculptures in a number of states of activity. The parapet’s material was considered to be the finest quality of marble.

On the other hand, the temple of Olympian Zeus was considered as a good example of a fully developed Greek temple. It was built having a hexastyle design from local limestone and was coated with stucco (Marilyn, 2007). The wall paintings and architrave were very colorful and enormous and believed to have red and blue as the main colors. Originally the roof was made of Parian marble tiles but these were to be replaced with Pentelican marble during the Roman times (Ibid, 2007). There were also carved pediment on the eastern and western side of the temple sculptured by an unknown artist.


The temple of Athena Nike was quite small in structure as compared to the temple of Olympian Zeus. The former was constructed in honor of the Greek gods while the latter was constructed out of arrogance of the people who believed to be equal with the gods.

The temples of Athena Nike and Olympian Zeus remain to be two of the most magnificent temples ever constructed by the Greeks.


Marilyn, S. (2007). Art: A Brief History. 3rd Edition. Prentice Hall.