Elise Nuding,

Photo By © José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro /, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Diodorus Siculus. Diodorus of Sicily in Twelve Volumes with an English Translation by C. H. Oldfather. Vol. 4-8. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press; London: William Heinemann, Ltd. 1989.

Today, the temple of Olympian Zeus has been reduced to a pile of rocks as a result of various catastrophes.. The temple was left unfinished at the time of the Carthaginian destruction of Agrigento in 406 B.C.E. Palus Diacunus states an earthquake in 797 AD destroyed all the temples of the nearby town of Selinunte along with that of the temple of Olympian Zeus. The final standing part of the temple collapsed spontaneously in 1401, and what remained of the peristyle was used as a quarry for the construction of the nearby port.

The Temple of Olympian Zeus at Agrigento was the largest temple built in the Greek world, with a ground plan measuring 52.740 x 110.095 m, and a height of 36.57 m. The historian Didorus Siculus describes its immensity, stating that a human figure would be able to fit into each of the flutings on the columns. It was a temple in the Doric order, but diverged from the standard design that had been established for Doric temples by this time. The most striking feature is that ashlar walls with Doric half columns at regular intervals replace the traditional colonnade, as can be seen in the ground plan. In the interior, Doric pilasters are positioned to reflect the half columns of the exterior. Unlike other temples of the time, the outer columns did not stand on their own as a freestanding peristyle but were engaged against a continuous curtain wall. Positioned mid-way up the exterior walls between the half columns were colossal telemons 7.65 metres tall with their arms and necks bent, so it seemed they were supporting the architrave above. It is thought that the temple was hypaethral, that is, open to the sky, and may have been way since the temple was never fully completed. It is believed the sculptural decorations on the facades depict the fall of Troy and the Gigantomachy (the battle between the gods and the giants).