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date: 18 October 2019

Acroterionlocked

  • A. Delivorrias

Extract

Decorative finial crowning the apex and lower angles of the pediments of ancient Greek and Roman buildings. Acroteria were normally made of terracotta, poros, limestone or marble, although bronze acroteria are mentioned in the literary sources: Pausanias (Guide to Greece V.x.4) noted gilded Victories framed by bronze cauldrons at the lower angles of the pediments of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. The bronze Victories framing Bellerophon and the Chimaera on the Temple of Athena Nike on the Acropolis at Athens are recorded in inscriptions, and traces of their bases survive.

The stylistic development of acroteria begins in the 7th century bc. The earliest surviving examples are the frequently enormous terracotta discs that crowned Lakonian-tiled roofs, such as that from the Temple of Hera at Olympia (Archaeol. Mus.; c. 600 bc). This type continued in the 6th century bc, and it was also sculpted in marble with relief decoration—rosettes, gorgoneia and gorgons—mainly in regions under Lakonian influence. Terracotta acroteria became highly decorative in the course of the 6th century, thanks to the potential of the more flexible Corinthian system of tiling and the advanced coroplastic tradition of the Corinthian workshops. The evolution of acroteria into increasingly sophisticated compositions based on floral, animal and mythological themes and the development of great plasticity and spectacular polychromy are recorded in a series of fragmentary examples from Greece, Magna Graecia and Sicily. Floral elements appear quite early on in variations of the palmette motif and predominate as central acroteria even after the establishment of marble as the standard sculptural material. Hybrid figures of fantastic beasts, such as sphinxes and griffins, were popular as lateral acroteria, initially in terracotta and later in marble; these did not persist after the ...

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