Speaking of Delphi, the pictures that come to mind are those of the great
, the reconstructed Treasury of the Athenians and the impressive Stadium, but who will notice the scanty walls labeled as Offering of Craterus? Temple of Apollo
Squeezed between said
and the Greek Theatre is an inconspicuous rectangular building measuring 15x35 meters, probably a portico with columns in the front not unlike the Treasury of the Athenians. Thanks to the inscription on the back wall it appears that this was a Pan-Hellenic sanctuary, known in antiquity as the ex-voto of Craterus, one of the generals and friends of Alexander the Great. These ten verses also reveal that this monument was dedicated by Craterus’ son with Phila, the daughter of Antipater, who was Regent of Macedonia while Alexander was campaigning in Temple of Apollo Asia. This dedication dates probably from around 320 BC, i.e. after the death of general Craterus.
Inside stood a bronze sculpture, now lost, representing Alexander the Great and Craterus on a lion hunt. Plutarch tells us that this bronze group was created by Lysippos and Leochares, the most famous artists of the 4th century BC, while Pliny only mentions Lysippos.
The theme of the lion hunt commemorated the incident when Craterus saved Alexander’s life during such a hunting event in the East.
The best-known lion hunt is the pebble mosaic floor that was found at the House of Dionysus in
and which is now exhibited at the local museum. Here both Alexander and Craterus are on foot attacking the lion at the center of the picture. Another depiction of the same scene was found in Pella Messene and is now on display at the Louvre in . Here we see Craterus on horseback and Alexander on foot attacking the lion caught between them. It is not documented which of the two compositions was cast in bronze here in Paris Delphi, but it is quite exciting to locate the very building where this special monument once stood!