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Hermaic Stele of Zeus

Hermaic Stele of Zeus - Otricoli Type - Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth by Joy of Museums

Hermaic Stele of Zeus – Otricoli Type

This Hermaic Stele of Zeus was excavated from Ancient Corinth in Greece. Hermaic steles featured a bust of a specific deity above a plain squared lower section, and it was usually placed at the entrances of particular public spaces.

This Hermaic Stele features Zeus the thunder god in ancient Greek religion, who ruled as king of the gods of Mount Olympus.

This sculpture is called the Otricoli type because the head is similar in style to the famous Otricoli Zeus at the Vatican Museum.

The Otricoli Zeus is named after the town of Otricoli in central Italy, where the famous Vatican sculpture was found.

This Hermaic Stele of Zeus was found near the Asklepieion at the Archaeological Site of Ancient Corinth. The Asklepieion was a healing temple sacred to the god Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine.

The healing temple was a place where patients visit to receive either treatment or healing, whether it was spiritual or physical.

Hermaic Stele or Herm

In pre-historic times Greek divinities were worshipped in the form of a collection of stones or a column of stone or wood. In many parts of Greece, there were stones by the sides of roads, especially at their crossings or the boundaries of lands.

Religious respect was shown by the custom of adding a rock to the collection or anointing the objects with oil.

Later as Greece culture developed, a sculptured head and phallus were added to the column, which became a quadrangular column as the standard for a Herm sculpture.

Herm statues multiplied in ancient Greece as they were thought to ward off and to turn away harm or evil. In some Greek city-states, hermai were numerous and venerated; they were placed outside houses for good luck.

They would be rubbed or anointed with olive oil and adorned with garlands or wreaths. This superstition has persisted into the modern world with some bronze or stone sculptures becoming shiny from being continually touched for good luck.

In Roman and Renaissance versions, the body was often sculptured from the waist up. The form was also used for portrait busts of famous public figures and has been used from Renaissance times on when herms were often attached to walls as decoration.

Sanctuary of Asklepieion in Ancient Corinth

The Sanctuary of Asklepieion is just 450 m from the hill of the Temple of Apollo, the ancient city of Corinth. The infirmary of Asclepios was one of the most important sanctuaries in the city and was active for over 800 years.

The Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth has an excellent collection of artifacts from the Sanctuary of Asklepieion.

There were two steps in the treatment process of the Asclepeion. The first was the purification stage, where the patient undergoes a series of baths and other purging techniques such as a controlled diet over several days or purging their emotions through art.

The patient would then make an offering to the temple, and the priest would offer a prayer to ease the patient’s mind.

The second step is incubation or dream therapy. The patients would sleep at the temple to be visited by a god.

The patient would then receive the proper treatment while in the dream or receive directions from the god on what the necessary steps were to treat their ailment.

The patient could also tell their dream to a priest or a dream-interpreter who would interpret the type of treatment required for that patient.

Hermaic Stele of Zeus – Otricoli Type

  • Artifact:        Hermaic Stele of Zeus – Otricoli Type
  • Date:           Roman Period
  • Find site:     Asklepieion, Ancient Corinth, Greece
  • Museum:    Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth

20 Greek Famous Statues

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“Learn to bear bravely the changes of fortune.”
– Periander of Corinth, 668-584 BC


Photo Credit: JOM

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