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SPHYRE´LATUS (σφυρήλατος: or sometimes, as a noun, σφυρήλατον,, sc. ἄγαλμα, or ἔργον), “beaten out with the hammer,” a simple method of working metal, which was used before the invention of casting, and also, in later times, especially for gold. All the works to which the name is applied by classical authors seem to have been of gold; for instance, the sphyrelatum of Zeus dedicated by Cypselus or the Cypselids (Strabo, p. 376; Plat. Phaedr. p. 136 B), a statue made of one of his wives by Darius (Hdt. 7.69), and the close-fitting gold covering made for the body of Alexander the Great (Diod. 18.26). And for so soft a material this process was doubtless the best adapted. Hence the comparison by the Pseudo-Theocritus (22.47) of “iron muscles” to a σφυρήλατος κολοσσὸς is peculiarly unhappy, and due to an association with σφυρἤλατοι πέδαι, &c. Though the name σφυρήλατα was seldom or never applied to bronze statues (L. and S. quote χαλκῆ from Anth. P. 14, 2, where the MS. reading is χρυσῆ, Pausanias (3.17, 6) describes a statue at Sparta made of beaten plates of bronze and riveted together by Clearchus of Rhegium. His statement that it was the earliest of all bronze statues is more consistent with the assertion that Clearchus was the pupil of some primitive artists, such as Dipoenus and Scyllis, than with another that he was the master of Pythagoras of Rhegium. There is, however, no classical authority for giving the name οφυρήλατον to a work of this description.


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