May 04, 2006

If I Had A Hammer.....

(Image found at this Turkish tourism website.)

Now that the Science Fair is over, my next trick with the eldest Llama-ette will be to help her construct a model of classical architecture. For this assignment, she has chosen the Alter of Zeus at Pergamon, a 2nd Century B.C. marble shrine, the recreation of which pictured above sits in the Staatliche Museum, Berlin, along with a number of pieces of the original.

According to this site:

The Altar of Zeus was erected by Eumenes II, King of Pergamon, as a memorial to his father, Attalos I. (For further information refer to numbers 114 and 115.) The immense building was not only dedicated to Zeus but also to Athena, the goddess of victory, who became the patroness and protector of Pergamon.

Located upon a terrace near the top of the citadel, the altar was erected approximately 700 feet above the city's market place. The pedestal walls of the monument were decorated with a frieze of sculptural relief that was 7-1/2 feet wide and approximately 400 feet long. A majestic staircase led to the frieze.

It was generally acknowledged that the subject of the frieze is the battle of the Olympian gods and giants, the offspring of Ge (Earth). In myth, Ge sent her brood, a dread-inspiring, monstrous lot, to scale thew heavens and usurp the Olympians. However, the identification of all the sculptured figures represented on the frieze and the sources from which the visual imagery were derived is speculative.

In the Zeus group from the east frieze, the powerful and triumphant father battles with three giants. To the god's right, a fallen giant has been struck through his leg with a thunderbolt. One of the two giants to the left of Zeus is a serpent-footed figure sometimes identified as Porphrion. His attempt to release a serpent is thwarted by an eagle (?) of Zeus'.

In the Athena group, the goddess is represented in active turbulence and drags and pulls a winged giant, often referred to as Alkyoneus, by his hair.

The agonized Ge, visualized by the fruits of nature nearby and by her position half out of the Earth, beseeches mercy from the pitiless goddess who is crowned by Nike in token of her victory.

Although the altar frieze was worked upon by numerous sculptors, many of whose names have survived, it has been ascertained that the overall design was the work of one master. Discovered by Humann (?) in excavations undertaken in 1878-1886 A.D. by the German government, the sculpture from The Altar of Zeus embodies the characteristics inherent in Hellenistic art.

I guess sugar cubes will do to get the basic shape of the thing down, but those friezes are going to be a cast-iron bitch.

The punch line is that Zeus is the Llama-ette's least favorite Greek god, she having taken to the pro-Hades line of the Myth-O-Mania series of kids' books. She thinks it pretty amusing to pick Zeus's temple despite her dislike for him. I hope she's not contemplating suddenly stamping on the thing to show Zeus what she really thinks of him.

BTW, if anybody out there knows some better pictures or drafts of the alter from which we can work, let me know.

UPDATE: Never mind. I just got word that the building is supposed to be Roman, not Greek. And after I downloaded all kinds of architectural plans and details of the friezes.

The gel now says she wants to do the Colosseum. But everybody does the bloody Colosseum. So I'm going to try and talk her into something else - the Arch of Septimius Severus, the Temple of Vesta, Hadrian's Wall, perhaps a nice aquaduct. I'm sure we can come up with something......

Posted by Robert at May 4, 2006 01:11 PM | TrackBack

Sugar cubes for the structure. Vanilla frosting (in a tube) for the friezes. Just do a couple of horses and fill the rest in with curlicues. You can also use the frosting to do the tops of the columns.

Posted by: The Colossus at May 4, 2006 01:43 PM

Lasagne noodles for the roof. They take spray paint beautifully.

Posted by: Babs at May 4, 2006 02:04 PM

You might want to skip the sugar cubes as they can get quite tedious. Foam core, found in arts and craft shops, is very good for walls and can take applications of almost anything.

Posted by: Babs at May 4, 2006 02:07 PM

I second the foam core idea - just because I had a really cool sugar-cube school project that got caught in the rain and, well, let's just say that went over badly with me.

Beyond that though - can we see pictures when you're finished?

Posted by: beth at May 4, 2006 02:22 PM

Yes, it looks like one or more trips to Michael's in the near future.

BTW, for the friezes I was thinking of just having her draw them on cardboard rectangles and stick them on the sides.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at May 4, 2006 02:31 PM

If there's no requirement that the result be edible (I sense a theme in the prior suggestions), you might try dental porcelain. ;-)

Posted by: Dave Schuler at May 4, 2006 07:06 PM