Gods and Mortals at Olympus

Dion, Statue of Aphrodite, 150-100 BC. Archaeological Museum of Dion © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports.

The Onassis Cultural Center in New York organizes a major exhibition Gods and Mortals at Olympus: Ancient Dion, City of Zeus. The show explores the relationship between daily life in the ancient city Dion built on the slopes of Mount Olympus and the mythological abode of the gods at the peak. Although people in antiquity associated Zeus and his reign with several ancient locales, very early tradition identified the highest peak in Greece, Mount Olympus, as the habitation of the gods. Located in the northern range that separates Thessaly from Macedonia, the Mount Olympus may have been the site of an altar to Zeus as early as the tenth century BCE. But the same great height that shrouded Mount Olympus in awe also made it difficult for worshipers to bring sacrificial animals to its peak. The first known altar to Zeus Olympios, as well as the earliest documented cemetery on the mountain, were established at Dion on the lower slopes.

The exhibition features more than ninety artworks and artefacts, including mosaics, sculptures, jewelry, ceramics, coins, glass, and implements, dating from the tenth century BCE to the fourth century CE. Among the highlights are marble sculptures from Hellenistic and Roman times of deities including Zeus, Demeter and Aphrodite, decorative objects and implements dating back as far as 1,000 BCE and a group of mosaic panels from the Villa of Dionysus. (Further information: http://onassisusa.org)