Colossus at the Crossroads: Reexamining a Hellenistic Cult Statue of Herakles from Kleonai | April 2023 (127.2)


The small, second-century BCE temple of Herakles at Kleonai has long been a landmark in the southern Corinthia, visited by early travelers in Greece and thoroughly studied and published. Less attention, however, has been paid to the in situ fragmentary colossal cult statue of Herakles, and questions concerning its date, artist, and sculptural “type” remain unresolved. The fragmentary nature, colossal scale, and significant context of the fragment have made these interrelated issues difficult to study using traditional means of documentation. This article presents a novel reexamination of the cult statue in its architectural and archaeological contexts, employing methods drawn from both traditional sculptural study and recent innovations in digital object documentation. In September 2020, the authors undertook a complete restudy of the Kleonai torso, collecting detailed measurements and photographs. This data set was used to create a scaled 3D photogrammetric model that illuminates previously undocumented traces of facture and offers new evidence for the display context of the complete statue. These results resituate this fragmentary sculpture as one of the most notable examples of a Hellenistic sculptural type, the Herakles Epitrapezios, popular across the Graeco-Roman Mediterranean.

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