Alexandria's founded by Alexander

Alexandria's founded by Alexander the Great (by year BC): 334 Alexandria in Troia (Turkey) - 333 Alexandria at Issus/Alexandrette (Iskenderun, Turkey) - 332 Alexandria of Caria/by the Latmos (Alinda, Turkey) - 331 Alexandria Mygdoniae - 331 Alexandria (Egypt) - 330 Alexandria in Areia (Herat, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria of the Prophthasia/in Drangiana/Phrada (Farah, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Arachosia (Kandahar, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Caucasus (Begram, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria of the Paropanisades (Ghazni, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria Eschate or Ultima (Khodjend, Tajikistan) - 329 Alexandria on the Oxus (Ai-Khanoum, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria in Margiana (Merv, Turkmenistan) - 326 Alexandria Nicaea (on the Hydaspes, India) - 326 Alexandria Bucephala (on the Hydaspes, India) - 325 Alexandria Sogdia - 325 Alexandria Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 325 Alexandria Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria on the Indus - 325 Alexandria Xylinepolis (Patala, India) - 325 Alexandria in Carminia (Gulashkird, Iran) - 324 Alexandria-on-the-Tigris/Antiochia-in-Susiana/Charax (Spasinou Charax on the Tigris, Iraq) - ?Alexandria of Carmahle? (Kahnu)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Amazing charioteers

Speaking of a charioteer, the tall and slender bronze statue from Delphi immediately comes to mind. Standing in front of this unique figure with his large inlaid eyes and delicate eyelashes is an unforgettable experience. 

Erected either in 478 or in 474 BC to honor the victory of a chariot team in the Pythian Games that were held every four years at Delphi for the Pythian Apollo, it incarnates the typical conventional style of the late Archaic period as well as that of the early Classical ideal although we easily tend to look beyond his rather rigid pose simply because his face is so fascinating. This charioteer is supposed to have stood behind the chariot drawn by four or six horses, assisted by two grooms forming a quite imposing group in its days. It is believed to be made in Athens and shows certain similarities with the Piraeus Apollo, but nothing is certain.

But there is another charioteer, although much less known who is at home at the Museum of Motya in Sicily. This is a most remarkable marble statue dating from around 440 BC, which by its pose alone expresses great confidence. It may have been made by a Greek master and scholars even think that Phidias may have been its creator. This work is much more realistic, fully belonging to the Classical period. As it was found buried in a shallow grave on the road to the sanctuary his face and vital parts have been abraded, but otherwise, he is amazingly well preserved. He lost the bronze band around his chest and his arms which he held in quite a defiant pose. In fact he carries his entire body in a rather provocative pose and the tight long dress gives him a sexy appearance.

On second thought, this statue may not be that of a charioteer but rather represent the Phoenician god Melgart (equal to the Greek Heracles), the supreme god of Tyre, or even an unknown Carthaginian hero. Personally, I favor the idea of a charioteer, were it only because of the elongated lower body and his dress which corresponds entirely to his Delphian counterpart.

Both statues also come together in Sicily as the inscription found on the limestone base of the Delphian charioteer states that the bronze was dedicated by the tyrant of Gela, a Greek colony in Sicily to thank Apollo for helping him to win the chariot race (Polyzalos dedicated me … Make him prosper, honored Apollo). The marble charioteer, on the other hand, was extracted from Sicilian soil more recently.

It never ceases to amaze me how close the relationship among the peoples around the Mediterranean was. In the fifth century BC, Sicily was indeed very wealthy and the local rulers could easily have afforded the most magnificent offerings to the gods. The Motya charioteer is proof for that.

[Click here for more pictures of the Motya charioteer]
[Picture of the charioteer from Delphi is taken from Wikipedia]

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