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(both: fĭd`ēəs), c.500–c.432 B.C., Greek sculptor, one of the greatest sculptors of ancient Greece. No original in existence can be attributed to him with certainty, although numerous Roman copies in varying degrees of supposed fidelity exist. However, the estimates of ancient writers, their descriptions of his statues, and his influence on all later sculpture have secured his fame. His greatest achievements were the Athena Parthenos at Athens and the Zeus in the temple of Olympia, both colossal figures of chryselephantine workmanship (draperies of beaten gold, flesh parts incrusted with ivory). The Athena (dedicated in the ParthenonParthenon
[Gr.,=the virgin's place], temple sacred to Athena, on the acropolis at Athens. Built under Pericles between 447 B.C. and 432 B.C., it is the culminating masterpiece of Greek architecture. Ictinus and Callicrates were the architects and Phidias supervised the sculpture.
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 c.447–439 B.C.) was the chief treasure of Athens. It was destroyed in antiquity, but several copies are preserved (National Mus. of Antiquities, Athens). It was also represented on coins and gems. The Zeus (c.435 B.C.), counted as one of the Seven Wonders of the WorldSeven Wonders of the World,
in ancient classifications, were the Great Pyramid of Khufu (see pyramid) or all the pyramids with or without the sphinx; the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, with or without the walls; the mausoleum at Halicarnassus; the Artemision at Ephesus; the
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, was a majestic bearded figure seated upon a magnificently ornamented throne and wearing a mantle strewn with sculptured decorations. Terra-cotta molds, found in 1955–56 at Olympia on the site identified as Phidias' workshop, showed that the gold for the drapery had been hammered into the molds and then further decorated with glass inlays. Works of the master's younger years include a colossal bronze Athena (called the Promachos), the Athena Lemnia for the Acropolis, and a chryselephantine Athena for Pellene. Phidias has traditionally been credited with having been in charge of the Parthenon sculptures and other great works on the Acropolis, done for Pericles; but it is probable that they were made by pupils and assistants. Part of the frieze is now in the British Museum (see Elgin MarblesElgin Marbles
, ancient sculptures taken from Athens to England in 1806 by Thomas Bruce, 7th earl of Elgin; other fragments exist in several European museums. Consisting of much of the surviving frieze and other sculptures from the Parthenon, a caryatid, and a column from the
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See study by C. Walston (1885, repr. 1971).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a Greek sculptor who lived in the second and third quarters of the fifth century B.C.; one of the greatest masters of Greek art in the high classical style.

Phidias’ works are known only from descriptions by ancient authors and from copies. His most renowned non-extant works are the colossal bronze statue of Athena Promachos (the Warrior), erected on the Acropolis about 460 B.C. in honor of the Greek victories over the Persians, and two majestic chryselephantine statues—Olympian Zeus in the temple of Zeus in Olympia, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and Athena Parthenos (the Maiden) in the Parthenon in Athens.

The best suggestion of what the work of Phidias was like is provided by the sculptural décor of the Parthenon, which was executed between 438 and 432 B.C. under the master’s guidance and probably with his personal participation. The remnants of the décor, done entirely in marble, are now housed in the British Museum in London, the Louvre in Paris, and the Acropolis Museum in Athens. Permeated with a profound humanism, the sculpture exalts the greatness of the Athenian polis and its citizens and depicts the struggle of Athens against its enemies. The sculpture of the Parthenon, together with its architecture, constitutes one of the finest examples of the synthesis of the arts. The sculpture is distinguished by the exceptional richness of its rhythms and compositional techniques, the subtlety of its modeling, the virtuosity of its chiaroscuro, and the overall unity of its plastic masses.


Niuberg, S. N. Fidii. Moscow, 1941.
Langlotz, E. Phidiasprobleme. Frankfurt am Main [1947].
Bendinelli, G. Sulle tracce di opere fidiache andate perdute. Turin, 1954.
Gavela, B. Fidija. [Novi Sad, 1974.]
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Greek sculptor (468–432 B.C.), epitome of classical art. [Gk. Art: Benét]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


5th century bc, Greek sculptor, regarded as one of the greatest of sculptors. He executed the sculptures of the Parthenon and the colossal statue of Zeus at Olympia, one of the Seven Wonders of the World: neither survives in the original
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005