Tholos of Philip

The tholos or round temple was ordered by king Philip II of Macedon, and finished by his son Alexander the Great, to celebrate their sportive and military feats. King Philip had won the horse races at Olympia several times. He started the building project after his famous military victory at Chaironeia in 338, when he united the Greeks in a military league. The unity of Greece was also an important ideal of the Olympics, but for many it was a shame that this should happen under Macedonian domination.

The temple was built as a funerary monument. It stood on a marble base and was surrounded by a row of Ionic columns. The five statues inside did not represent gods, as one would expect in temples, but Alexander the Great between his parents and forefathers. They were made by Leochares, in gold and ivory. The wall around the sacred domain had to be extended, so that the tholos could find place inside.

© KU Leuven, 2012