The Philippeion at Olympia

Statuette of Alexander

This Statuette of Alexander with a Lance (Now Missing) portrayed him armed and naked, echoing the great heroes of Greek mythology

The Philippeion was erected near the west wall of the Altis in 338 BC. The circular monument was commissioned by Philip II of Macedon in celebration of both athletic and military victories. Philip had already won several chariot races at Olympia, and his victory over the Thebans and Athenians at the battle of Chaeronea presented the opportunity for a lavish dedication at the Greek sanctuary.

The Philippeion stood on a marble base 15.3 meters in diameter and was comprised of 18 ionic columns covered with a carved marble roof and topped with a bronze poppy head (E. Gardiner). Inside the Philippeon stood 8 Corinthian half columns and 5 statues of the Macedonian royal family that depicted Philip, his wife, his parents, and his son, Alexander. The statues were created by the sculptor Leochares, and composed of gold and ivory (J. Swaddling). Like his other dedications at Olympia, the Philippeon was constructed to portray Philip not as a conqueror, but as a champion of the panhellenic ideal (P. Valavanis). Philip lived only two years after the Philippeion was commissioned. Therefore it is likely the monument was completed by Alexander after the king’s death (J. Swaddling).

Reconstruction of the Philippeion: Jocelyn R. Whittenburg

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