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Phidias (c. 480 BCE – c. 424 BCE) was a Greek sculptor, painter and architect who lived during the 5th century BCE. He was known for creating the colossal statue of Athena which stood the middle of the Akropolis Sanctuary and the Athena Parthenos in the Parthenon in Athens. His Statue of Zeus in the Temple of Zeus in Olympia was one of the Wonders of the World.

A friend of the Athenian statesman Perikles, Phidias found himself targeted by the Cult of Kosmos which led him to flee from Athens with the help of the misthios Kassandra. Phidias later found work once again in Olympia, where he worked to solve a mysterious scytale. However, he was ultimately found and killed by the Cult's enforcer Deimos.


Early activities

Around 456 BCE, Phidias sculpted the 10 meter bronze Statue of Athena. It took nine years to make, and costed almost half a million drachmae.[1] As part of Perikles' plan to rebuild the citadel, Phidias was sought out for his masterful sculptures. He helped build the Propylea and the Parthenon and also assisted in sculpting many other notable statues.[2]

In 437 BCE, Phidias was commissioned by his statesmen friend Perikles to help oversee the construction of the Propylea, a monumental gateway on the western side of the Akropolis Sanctuary.[3]

In 435 BCE, Phidias finished the work on the Statue of Zeus in the Sanctuary of Olympia.[4]

Fleeing from Athens

In 431 BCE, construction on the Propylea was halted due to the start of the Peloponnesian War.[3] Also that year, the Spartan misthios Kassandra learned that the Cult of Kosmos wanted Phidias dead.[5] When she reached Athens and met Perikles, he asked her to help Phidias escape the polis. After meeting Phidias in his workshop, Phidias told her of the plot to murder him – lightly veiled under the idea of a legal trial to imprison him. Needing to leave, Kassandra asked him where he would be safe to which he suggest an island south of Athens, Seriphos. A friend of Phidias', Theras lived on the island and could provide Phidias with shelter. At nightfall, Phidias was able to sneak out and meet Kassandra at the Port of Piraeus. Aboard the Adrestia, Kassandra escorted him to Seriphos safely. Docking at Chora on the island, Phidias and Kassandra parted ways.[6]

Hunted in Olympia

Sometime later, Phidias moved on from Seriphos, and by 428 BCE was back in Sanctuary of Olympia, working again in his new workshop. There, he met Kassandra again, paranoid at the constant threat the Cult posed. He had received a Spartan scytale and asked for Kassandra's help to decode the message. He tasked Kassandra to look for the symbol on the Statue of Zeus in the Temple of Zeus. However once that symbol had been decoded they mystery only unraveled further. The coded message referenced other statues, which Kassandra agreed to travel to and help decode all the messages.[7] The other statues were located in Kythera, Thasos, and Samos. They were of Aphrodite, Theagenes, and Poseidon respectively.[8]

Phidias' hand being stabbed by Deimos

During the time that Kassandra was searching for the symbols, in circa 424 BCE, Phidias was interrogated and tortured by Deimos, the Cult's enforcer, for information on the mysterious symbols. Having only studied the symbol of the Statue of Zeus, the only things Phidias was able to say about them was "Itira! Korgath! Metin!" for that was all he was able to glean in the short time he had studied them. Unsatisfied with his constant blubbering, Deimos beat the sculptor to death.[9]


Circa 422 BCE, upon returning from her task, Kassandra discovered Phidias to be brutally murdered. She lamented that she shouldn't have left him alone.[10] His Statue of Zeus at Olympia later became known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, although it is no longer standing today.[4]

Personality and traits

Phidias and Perikles shared a close friendship, bonding over their love for Athens. However when Phidias learned of people out to kill him, he became a recluse locking himself in his workshop. He was also incredibly paranoid, as at the first sight of Kassandra he dropped his hammer in fright. Due to not travelling by sea very often, Phidias suffered from mild sea sickness.[6]

Phidias was also known to be possessive of his belongings, carving "I belong to Phidias!" on a mug of his.[4]

Equipment and skills

Phidias was a skilled sculptor, creating his masterpiece the Statue of Zeus at Olympia in 435 BCE. He created some of his most masterful creations out of chryselephantine, wood overlaid with gold and ivory. With a chisel and hammer he could accurately recreate lifelike sculptures.[4]

Phidias was also shown to be intelligent and have a penchant for puzzle solving, deciphering a Spartan scytale even without obtaining the other symbols needs to decipher it.[9]


  • Historically, Phidias died in 430 BCE after being imprisoned by political enemies of Perikles, in Athens. Alternatively, it was said that he was put to death by the Eleans after he had completed the Statue of Zeus for them.