North end of the altar, from W, Altar of Hieron II, Syracuse

North end of the altar, from NW, Altar of Hieron II, Syracuse

Context: Syracuse
Type: Altar
Summary: Altar; to the south of the theater.
Date: 269 BC - 215 BC

Length ca. 196 m.

Region: Sicily
Period: Hellenistic


The altar of Zeus Eleutherios (the Liberator) was constructed by Hieron II, tyrant of Syracuse, as part of his building program in this area; it is approximately contemporaneous with the nearby theater and nymphaeum. Diodorus states that 450 oxen were able to be sacrificed simultaneously atop the altar during the annual feast of Zeus Eleutherios. Despite its enormous length (600 Doric feet; ca. 196 m), the altar was quite narrow and it stood ca. 11 m high. Narrow stairways were located at each end of the front, flanked by telamones.

Sources Used:

Dinsmoor 1975; Guido 1967; PECS