It must be an incredible experience to enter the dark temples and to see the giant Athena and Zeus sculptures of Pheidias illuminated by firelight. As Pausanias writes. "The statue of Zeus strikes terror into the hearts of all who see it"
But Zeus himself gave birth from his own head to bright-eyed Tritogeneia, the awful, the strife-stirring, the host-leader, the unwearying, the queen, who delights in tumults and wars and battles. Hesiod , Theogony
... it is said that Pheidias entered a contest to make a statue of Athena (Overbeck, No. 772). Two statues were to be made. Both were to be set on high columns. Alkamenes made one, Pheidias the other. Pheidias made his Athena as would one who knew optics and geometry and “knowing that things that are high will appear very small.” His Athena was made with her mouth open, nostrils distended, and the rest in proportion to the height of the columns. As a result, the sculptor was in danger of being stoned by the outraged populace. But when both statues were raised on their columns, Pheidias was seen to have produced a statue admirable for the excellence of its sculptural technique, whereas Alkamenes, whose statue had earlier been admired, was subjected to ridicule. Creativity in Art
Calamis produced a 20 cubits sculpture of Apollo (around 9 m or larger depending on the version of cubit) for a temple in the city Apollonia Pontica. The Romans destroyed the city and transported the sculpture to Rome.
I understand the young student who was dissapointed having seen the famous “Elgin Marbles". For the Athenians who celebrated the daughter of Zeus Athena with a procession (Panathenaea) to the Acropolis (mainly what is shown in the frieze reliefs) it was probably different. It is the modesty and dignity of the figures that for me is finally the problem. We are used with more abstract Art (Henry Moore, 2 Piece Reclining Figure) or spectacular like the coverage of huge areas or buildings with some fabric)
See: All parts of the Parthenon frieze, a complex composition (around 250 animals and 360 humans) with a description of the individual figures and various interpretations:
Hermes Head 430 BC , Roman Copy of a Greek Hermes who sometimes has not only shoes with wings but also wings on his head
Athena Lemnia (or that what earlier considered to be a version of the Lemnian sculpture of Phidias)
I have a head of Zeus next to my bed which I use to pray each morning said Goethe (1749-1832), the German poet and author of Faust, but Goethe (“Every one should be Greek in his own manner. But he should be Greek”, Antik und Modern, 1818) had also a copy of the Rondanini Medusa which he obtained from the King Ludwig in 1826. This Medusa is so different than the bizarre archaic Medusa of the Corfu Artemis Temple.
Sigmund Freund in "Medusa's Head" provides a psychological explanation of the terror of Medusa, as a fear of castration linked to the sight of the female genitals surrounded by hair in which the spectator becomes "stiff with terror,"...
Medieval Greece / Byzantine Empire