Aphrodite's Temple at Knidos

By Hodges, Richard | History Today, May 1996 | Go to article overview

Aphrodite's Temple at Knidos


Hodges, Richard, History Today


Knidos is a mariner's city, situated at the end of a long spindly Turkish peninsula jutting out towards the Dodecanese islands of Cos, Nicyros and Telos. It is renowned for its wine, vinegar and above all for Praxiteles' statue of Aphrodite. The statue has long since disappeared, but the elegantly proportioned podium of the round temple in which it stood was discovered twenty-five years ago. The temple was built in the fourth century BC to Aphrodite Euploia, the Aphrodite of fair voyages. It was a merchants, temple. the cathedral of a city whose rationale was commerce.

The temple dates from the foundation of Knidos in about 360 BC, when its citizens moved their city from an inlet surrounded by fertile lands at Datca, fifty miles to the east, to this barren, waterless, but dramatic headland known as Cape Crio. The Knidians, then under Persian hegemony, understood the promise of this unlikely site. When the meltem, the strong northwest wind, blows, ships sailing from the south are unable to round the cape. Obliged to shelter for days at a time in the great commercial harbour constructed by the Knidians, wayfarers were compelled to contribute substantially to the port's revenues.

Aphrodite's temple was the symbol of this new venture. It was circular with eighteen Doric columns which supported a cupola. The altar, on which sacrifices were made to the goddess, faced the temple's main entrance, located on the east side. Here stood the remarkable statue made by the Athenian sculptor Praxiteles (active c. 370-300 BC). It is known that in about 360 he had made two versions of the goddess. The clothed version was purchased by the Coans, while the other, portraying the goddess in naturalibus, was chosen by the Knidians as the principal ornament of their new city. Why the great sculptor made these two works remains unknown, but it was the Knidian Aphrodite, which over the subsequent millennium was the subject of profound appreciation as well as prurient voyeurism.

Pliny the Elder tells us that this marine Venus stood `in a shrine which allowed the image of the goddess to be viewed from every side'. A fuller description exists in a dialogue known as the Erotes (love Affairs), ascribed to the second-century AD satirist and philosopher, Lucian of Samosata. The account is almost certainly the work of a later imitator of Lucian, but conveys why the Aphrodite, of Knidos became the standard against which all subsequent representations of feminine beauty were measured:

In approaching the sacred enclosure we were fanned by the most delicious breezes; for within, no polished pavement spreads its barren surface, but the area as suited to a sanctuary of venus, abounds with productive trees ... canopying the air around ... In the centre (of the temple) stands the goddess, formed of Parian marble - a half-suppressed smile is on her mouth. No drapery conceals her beauty, nor is any part hidden except that which is covered unconsciously as it were by the left hand. Charicles [Lucian's companion] cried aloud ... and springing forward ... he repeatedly kissed the statue.

The American archaeologist, Iris Cornelia Love, uncovered a round temple, precisely where it should have been at the westernmost end of the site, on the day Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. The temple occupies the freshest spot in summer, where, looking out to Cos, it would have been conspicuous to sailors passing from Halicarnassus (modern Bodrum) to Rhodes. Love used dynamite to blast away the great fall of scree above the platform.

Armies of Turkish peasants wearing goggles to protect their eyes from the dust billowing in the prevailing summer breeze excavated the remains. on the intermediate terrace below the sanctuary four parallel rows of theatre-like seats with at least two stepped aisles were uncovered. A section of a frieze of dancing girls suggests an Ionic building, perhaps an associated shrine. Directly behind the round temple other buildings were found, one of which was probably the treasury. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Aphrodite's Temple at Knidos
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.