From the time of Pheidias calm earnestness, self-conscious might, and clearness of intellect were the main characteristics of the goddess.
But among the Greeks themselves the two works of Pheidias which far outshone all others, and were the basis of his fame, were the colossal figures in gold and ivory of Zeus at Olympia and of Athena Parthenos at Athens, both of which belong to about the middle of the 5th century.
It is important to observe that in resting the fame of Pheidias upon the sculptures of the Parthenon we proceed with little evidence.
The earliest of the great works of Pheidias were dedications in memory of Marathon, from the spoils of the victory.
Equally contradictory of any such law of development is the circumstance that the Greeks of the 5th and 4th centuries B.C., although Pheidias and other artists were embodying their gods and goddesses in the most perfect of images, nevertheless continued to cherish the rude aniconic stocks and stones of their ancestors.
It thus abundantly appears that Pheidias was closely connected with Pericles, and a ruling spirit in the Athenian art of the period.
The Greek sculptors of the school of Pheidias conceived of the battle of the Lapithae and Centaurs as a struggle between mankind and mischievous monsters, and symbolical of the great conflict between the Greeks and Persians.
The sculptor Pheidias was prosecuted on two vexatious charges (probably in 433), and before he could disprove the second he died under arrest.