Who was Phidias and what did he contribute to the Parthenon?

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Phidias was a 5th-century BC Greek sculptor, architect, and artist; many consider him to be the greatest ancient Greek sculptor. Phidias' greatest accomplishment was building the Statue of Zeus at Olympia (housed in the temple of Zeus), which was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

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Phidias was a 5th-century BC Greek sculptor, architect, and artist; many consider him to be the greatest ancient Greek sculptor. Phidias' greatest accomplishment was building the Statue of Zeus at Olympia (housed in the temple of Zeus), which was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Phidias was also well-known for his contribution to the Parthenon: the statue Athena Parthenos. Literally translated, this statue was called "Athena the Virgin" and thus represented both Athena's character and the Parthenon in which the statue was housed.

The statue no longer exists, but the ancient Greek historian Pausanias described it thus:

The statue is created with ivory and gold. On the middle of her helmet is likeness of the Sphinx... and on either side of the helmet are griffins in relief. ... The statue of Athena is upright, with a tunic reaching to the feet, and on her breast the head of Medusa is worked in ivory. She holds a statue of Victory that is approx. Four cubits high, and in the other hand a spear; at her feet lies a shield and near the spear is a serpent.

A picture of a small copy of the Athena Parthenos can be found here.

A close friend of the Athenian statesman Pericles, Phidias was the constant target of Pericles' opponents. He died in prison after being convicted of committing sacrilege by portraying Pericles and himself on Athena's shield.

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