Monday, January 9, 2012

The Temple of Artemis


The Temple of Artemis, as imagined in this hand-coloured engraving by Martin Heemskerck (1498 - 1574), has the "old-fashioned" look of Santa Maria Novella in Florence and other Italian quattrocento churches of the previous generation
The Temple of Artemis, also known less precisely as the Temple of Diana, was a Greek temple dedicated to a goddess Greeks identified as Artemis and was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was situated at Ephesus (near the modern town of Selçuk in present-day Turkey), and was completely rebuilt three times before its eventual destruction in 401. Only foundations and sculptural fragments of the latest of the temples at the site remain.
The first sanctuary (temenos) antedated the Ionic immigration by many years, and dates to the Bronze Age. Callimachus, in his Hymn to Artemis, attributed it to the Amazons. In the 7th century the old temple was destroyed by a flood. Its reconstruction began around 550 BC, under the Cretan architect Chersiphron and his son Metagenes, at the expense of Croesus of Lydia: the project took 10 years to complete, only to be destroyed in an act of arson by a young arsonist seeking fame named Herostratus. It was later rebuilt.
Antipater of Sidon, who compiled the list of the Seven Wonders, describes the finished temple:
I have set eyes on the wall of lofty Babylon on which is a road for chariots, and the statue of Zeus by the Alpheus, and the hanging gardens, and the colossus of the Sun, and the huge labour of the high pyramids, and the vast tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the house of Artemis that mounted to the clouds, those other marvels lost their brilliancy, and I said, "Lo, apart from Olympus, the Sun never looked on aught so grand".
The "Croesus" Temple was destroyed on July 21, 356 BC, probably very soon after its completion, in a vainglorious act of arson: one Herostratus set fire to the roof-beams, seeking fame at any cost, thus the term herostratic fame.
A man was found to plan the burning of the temple of Ephesian Diana so that through the destruction of this most beautiful building his name might be spread through the whole world.
The Ephesians, outraged, sentenced Herostratus to death and forbade anyone from mentioning his name, under pain of death. However, Theopompus later noted the name. The burning supposedly coincided with the birth of Alexander the Great; Plutarch remarked that Artemis was too preoccupied with Alexander's delivery to save her burning temple
Leesah

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