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Thorsten Opper

Greek bronze statue of the early 5th century bc from the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi (h. 1.8 m; Delphi, Archaeol. Mus.; see fig.). The Charioteer was discovered in 1896 together with bronze fragments of a horse team and chariot, the arm of a further, smaller figure (an outrider or groom) and an inscribed base block of Pentelic marble, all of which seem to have belonged to the same monument. A young man, the charioteer is clad in a xystis, the long, short-sleeved tunic typical of his profession, the long vertical folds of which highlight the statue's plain, column-like character. While the Charioteer stands erect, with his feet close together and his weight evenly distributed, his entire body turns to the right in an unusual, gradual spiral movement, perhaps an indication that the figure was meant to be seen in a three-quarter profile from the right. The statue was cast in seven main pieces, possibly in the direct lost-wax technique; only the left arm is now missing. Finer details were added in different materials (glass paste, black stone and brown onyx for the eyes, copper for eyelashes and lips, silver for the teeth, copper and silver for the inlaid meander pattern of the hair band). The remains of the dedicatory inscription (‘Polyzalos erected me… Make him prosper, glorious Apollo’) are essential for narrowing down the date and historical context of the monument. It seems likely that the ...

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In its most general sense, spolia (pl., from Lat. spolium: ‘plunder’) denotes all artifacts re-employed in secondary contexts, from building blocks reused in a wall to pagan gems mounted on a Christian reliquary. It is a matter of debate whether this broad application of the term is justified, or whether it should be restricted to the relatively small subset of reused objects that were taken or ‘stripped’ (like spoils) from their original context, rather than found, purchased, inherited or otherwise acquired by non-violent means. It is likewise debated when the use of spolia should be considered meaningful, if at all. Arnold Esch defined five possible motives for using spolia: convenience, profanation, Christianization, political legitimation and aesthetic attraction. Michael Greenhalgh has argued for reducing the motives to three (at least with regard to marble): pragmatism, aesthetics and ideology; while Finbarr Barry Flood cautioned against reductive interpretations generated by any taxonomy, insisting that reused objects are mutable in meaning and capable of multiple interpretations during their life cycle....

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Thorsten Opper

[Tyrannicides; Gr. Tyrannoktonoi]

Greek statue group originally executed in bronze by Antenor, which was frequently copied throughout the Greek and Roman world. Nothing from the original work survives.

In 514 bc the Athenians Harmodios and Aristogeiton assassinated the tyrant Hipparchos, son of Peisistratos, who had ruled over Athens together with his brother Hippias. Harmodios was killed on the spot; Aristogeiton briefly escaped but was put to death soon after. Hippias, the original target of the plot, remained unharmed and continued to rule for another four years. After he had finally been expelled in 510 bc and a democratic regime installed under the new leader Kleisthenes in 508/7 bc, the state commissioned a bronze monument of the ‘tyrant slayers’ by the sculptor Antenor. While the tyrant slayers’ action did not lead to an immediate change in government, and may have been inspired by personal rather than political motives, the state nevertheless created an iconic symbol for the new democracy that all Athenians could identify with. When the exiled Hippias returned with the invading Persian army under Xerxes in ...