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Close up detail of head and shoulders

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Three quarter of figure, frontal view

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Detail of face

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Detail of dress and hand

Olympia, Temple of Zeus, Augean stables metope, reconstruction (small)

Collection: Olympia Archaeological Museum
Title: Olympia Augean Stables Metope
Context: From Olympia
Findspot: Excavated at Olympia
Summary: Herakles and the Augean Stables
Material: Marble
Sculpture Type: Architectural
Category: Statuary group
Placement: East Metope 6
Style: Early Classical
Technique: High relief
Original or Copy: Original
Date: ca. 470 BC - ca. 457 BC

H 1.60 m (approximately square)

Scale: Under life-size
Region: Elis
Period: Early Classical
In Group: Olympia Metopes

Subject Description:

The last metope in the series at Olympia illustrates the cleaning of the Augean stables, which were full of dung. Herakles performed this task for Augeas, king of Elis, by diverting the course of the Alpheios through the stables to carry the manure away. As Brommer points out, the Labor is atypical in virtually every respect. It involves neither a monster nor any danger to Herakles. It was performed for King Augeas rather than Eurystheus and, according to Pindar, involved the exchange of money. Furthermore Herakles is left with no tangible proof that the Labor has been accomplished. The subject also differs from the other Labors in that there is no reference to it in either literature or art before its nearly contemporary appearance on the metope at Olympia and in one of Pindar's Olympian Odes (Pind. O. 10.27ff.). The local setting must account for its inclusion in both instances, and especially for its setting at the end of the metope cycle, as the findspots of the fragments indicate.

Compositionally the metope appears to have been designed for a position on the right end of the series. The design is essentially a repetition of the Cerberus Metope adjacent to it. The strong diagonal created by Herakles' pose fills the left two-thirds of the metope, though the direction of his movement is to the left, toward the center of the frieze and away from Athena rather than toward the outside. In this sense the design is less self-contained than many of the other metopes, yet it appropriately encloses the series. The figure of Athena is an echo of the young patroness of the Lion-slayer with which the series began and opposite which she stands. But she has matured, along with Herakles, and for the first time in the series wears her helmet and carries her shield and spear.

Condition: Fragmentary

Condition Description:

The right side, including the figure of Athena, is preserved nearly intact. The left half is fragmentary but gives the essential pose of Herakles and includes the head. Left half broken in many pieces and heavily weathered. Athena in good condition.

Associated Building: Olympia, Temple of Zeus

Sources Used:

Stewart 1990, 142 ff.; Brommer 1986; Boardman 1985a, 33ff.; Mallwitz & Herrmann 1980, 161ff; Robertson 1975, 276 ff.; Ashmole 1972, 27 ff.; Ridgway 1970; Ashmole & Yalouris 1967