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date: 21 September 2019


  • G. Lloyd-Morgan


Male figure (sometimes known as telamon, and equivalent to the female caryatid) used architecturally since the Classical period to replace a column, and for decorative effect in metalwork and furniture since the 16th century. It is usually represented standing with its hands behind its bowed head, as if supporting a heavy weight on its shoulders, and is probably modelled on the mythical Atlas, who was said to hold up the sky. Unlike caryatids, surviving examples from the Greco-Roman world are scarce. The earliest and most famous, in the huge temple of Zeus Olympios at Akragas (begun c. 480 bc), are 7.65 m high and composed of 12 or 13 courses of stone. Several have been reconstructed on site from excavated fragments. Evidence from coins suggests that atlantids adorned other temples and sacred buildings. They are found in Roman secular architecture from the 1st century bc, for example at Pompeii in the ...

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