Hellenistic Structures > Craterus ex Voto

Craterus ex Voto


The "Craterus ex voto" refers to a notable ancient Greek dedication made by Craterus, a general and close companion of Alexander the Great. This dedication is significant in the context of ancient Greek art, military history, and the cultural practices of dedicating offerings to the gods. Here's an overview of Craterus' ex voto:

Historical Context

  1. Craterus:

    • Craterus was one of Alexander the Great’s most trusted generals and played a key role in many of Alexander’s campaigns.
    • After Alexander’s death, Craterus was involved in the Wars of the Diadochi (the wars of Alexander's successors).
  2. Dedication:

    • The ex voto by Craterus was a votive offering, a gift made to the gods in gratitude or fulfillment of a vow.
    • Such dedications were common in ancient Greece and often made to thank the gods for victories or other significant achievements.

Description of the Dedication

  1. Philippeion in Olympia:

    • The dedication was made in the Philippeion, a circular building in Olympia commissioned by Philip II of Macedon and completed by Alexander the Great.
    • Olympia was a major religious center dedicated to Zeus and the site of the ancient Olympic Games.
  2. Bronze Group:

    • The offering by Craterus included a bronze sculptural group.
    • According to historical sources, this group depicted a lion hunt, a popular motif in ancient Greek art that symbolized bravery and strength.
  3. Artists:

    • The sculptures were created by the renowned artists Lysippos and Leochares.
    • Lysippos was one of the greatest sculptors of the late Classical period and the preferred sculptor of Alexander the Great.
    • Leochares was also a prominent sculptor known for his works on the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.


  1. Artistic Value:

    • The bronze group dedicated by Craterus was a masterpiece of Greek art, showcasing the skill and creativity of the period's leading artists.
    • The involvement of Lysippos and Leochares highlighted the high artistic standards and the importance of the dedication.
  2. Cultural and Religious Practices:

    • Votive offerings like the Craterus ex voto were an integral part of Greek religious practice, reflecting the piety and gratitude of individuals towards the gods.
    • Such offerings also served to commemorate significant events, such as military victories, and to enhance the prestige of the dedicator.
  3. Historical Documentation:

    • Ancient historians and writers, such as Pausanias, documented the dedication, providing valuable insights into the art and cultural practices of the time.
    • Pausanias’ "Description of Greece" mentions the dedication, noting its presence in the Philippeion and its artistic merits.


  1. Historical Recognition:

    • The Craterus ex voto is remembered as one of the significant examples of votive art from ancient Greece.
    • It underscores the close relationship between art, religion, and politics in ancient Greek society.
  2. Archaeological Interest:

    • Although the original bronze group does not survive, references in historical texts continue to intrigue archaeologists and historians.
    • The site of the Philippeion in Olympia remains an important archaeological and tourist site, where visitors can appreciate the historical context of such dedications.
  3. Influence on Later Art:

    • The themes and styles represented in dedications like the Craterus ex voto influenced later art and commemorative practices in both Greek and Roman cultures.

In summary, the Craterus ex voto is a significant historical and artistic dedication made by one of Alexander the Great’s key generals. It exemplifies the cultural and religious practices of ancient Greece and highlights the contributions of some of the greatest artists of the Classical period.


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