Many people might think that the Olympics is an event that has been invented by the more modern generation of man. What they do not know is that the Olympics have been around for thousands of years. Back in ancient Greece there was a festival held to honor the gods, more importantly the king of the gods, Zeus.
This Festival was called the Olympic games. They were held every four years, it was the biggest event around. Peace treaties were set up and safe passage was guaranteed to all those who wanted to participate. This not only gave the people something to look forward to, but also unified Greece and brought the people closer to each other.
The games were held in Olympia (hence the name: the Olympics) and they were played out in a huge stadium. Next to the stadium was a place that had temples so that the people could go and worship the gods. The only problem was that as the games grew in popularity, people begun to realize that the temple was not worthy of their king of the gods. A nicer, newer one was built, as they did not want to disgrace Zeus in front of all the people who came.
They started building the new temple around 470 B.C. But it was not until 456 B.C. that the new temple was completed. It was beautiful to behold, a masterpiece that could make the gods proud. It was called the Temple of Zeus.
There was still a problem though. Many people still thought that the new temple was too empty, to plain to be worthy of Zeus, and because of this, they decided to add a statue; a statue that would become one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
They picked a sculptor named Phidias. He had experience in building and decorating temples. One of the temples that he decorated was the Parthenon in Athens, where he built a forty-foot statue of the goddess Athena. After being called to Olympia for such a great task, he set out immediately to start his work.
It was huge, and was placed in the west end of the temple. It was 23 feet wide and 40 feet tall. It has been criticized for being so big. One historian noted that if Zeus should try to stand up then his head would go right through the roof of the temple.
Evidently some people thought that Phidias did not pay heed to the correct proportions in making it almost as big as the temple itself. Others say that it is a magnificent thing that he did in making Zeus larger than life, as it gives the impression of the might that Zeus possessed.
Correct proportions or not, it was a masterpiece in design. Zeus, in his right hand holds a statuette representing victory, and in his left hand he holds a scepter that had been inlaid with every type of metal. Perched on the top of the scepter is an eagle. It was not only the statue that impressed people with the throne was just as remarkable as the statue itself. It was made out of gold and ivory, and into the throne there were carved figures of Greek gods and mystical animals.
When Phidias returned home, he got into trouble, because Phidias was a close friend to the ruler of Athens. The enemies of that ruler took out his friends because they could not get to the ruler himself. Phidias was arrested for stealing gold that was intended to be used on the statue in Athens. But they could not prove he was guilty as they had no evidence. So they came up with something else. They claimed that he had carved his face into the sculpture at the Parthenon. Phidias was thrown in jail and he soon died awaiting trial.
The master might have died but his masterpiece did not. Zeus remained on his throne for many years, looking after the Olympic Games that brought nations together.