Page images

and giants, and on the sandals were Centaurs and Lapiths." The goddess wore the ægis. Twenty figures of deities were represented on the base. The Victory which Athena carried on her right hand wore a golden crown."

So much for the literary evidence, which still leaves much unsaid. No one tells us of the Pegasus on each side of the sphinx, of the serpents of the ægis, of the locks of hair falling down over the breast, of the small heads of animals projecting over the visor of the helmet, of the girdle and the arrangement of the folds of the chiton, or of such special features of ornamentation as necklace and bracelets. These and other details can be discovered only from a comparative study of the numerous monumental sources. Of some of these we shall speak later.

The fate of the statue is not fully known. From the standpoint of durability chryselephantine statues were not altogether successful.10 Not to speak of the perishable nature of the ivory, the intrinsic value of the gold was too tempting. Possibly it was a mistake on the part of Pericles to cause the statue to be made so that the gold could be removed. Too much credence may easily be given, doubtless, to the story of Lachares and his theft, as told by Pausanias 11 and others, but the existence of a tradition as to the stealing of the "removable decoration" 12 renders it difficult to believe that the gold was intact in the second century of Yet that the gold was not all removed is made tolerably certain by the description of the statue by Pausanias, particularly his mention of the Victory, which, in all probability, was of gold. The real foundation of the tradition concerning Lachares is unknown. Epigraphical evidence, however, shows that there was a tendency towards disintegration of the several parts of the statue, while we have no indication that it was repaired at any time. Among the treasures of the Hecatompedon are mentioned two small helmets "from the base"; 13 the golden Gorgoneion 6 Pliny, op. cit.

our era.

7 Max. Tyr. Dissert. 14.6; Aristid. Or. 24, p. 528 Cant.

8 Pliny N. H. 36.19.

9 I. G. 2, 652.

10 For the repair of the Zeus at Olympia by Damophon see Pausanias 4, 31, 6; cf. 5, 11, 10.

11 Paus. 1, 25, 7; cf. Plut. Is. et Os. 71.

12 Paus. 1, 25, 7; cf. Thue. 2, 13.

13 I. G. 2, 676, 40f.; 2, 701, II 60f.


"from the shield"; " a branch with four golden leaves from the crown of the Victory.15 The Gorgoneion ("of the goddess," 16) furthermore, was stolen "from out the Acropolis." Little by little, the statue seems to have lost its ornamentation. It stood, however, until the fourth century of our era," and may have remained in its place for a century more. The philosopher Proclus, who died in the latter half of the fifth century, is said to have seen the statue removed "by those who move things immovable." 18 The theory that it was removed to Constantinople does not seem to be supported by evidence of much weight. Its sole basis is a statement of Arethas (c. 900 A.D.) 19 relative to an ivory Athena situated in the forum of Constantine. Some have throught that this statue was the Parthenos.

Discussion of the events in the life of Pheidias or even the relative chronology of his various works is not within the scope of this study. It would be interesting to know what length of time was required to complete the Parthenos, but owing to the fact that the date of the inscriptions 20 dealing with the actual expense accounts of the statue itself has not been determined, the duration of time cannot be decided. The work seems to have extended over a period of at least five years ending 439/8 B.C., but whether it actually required a longer time than this is not known. It may be said, however, that the traditional date for the dedication of the statue, that is, the time of the Panathenaic festival 439/8 B.C., is undoubtedly correct. The attempts of Nicole and Paretti to assign a later date than 438 are based upon hazardous and mutually contradictory readings of the Geneva Papyrus, and their respective theories 21 are of little weight against the evidence of certain Attic building accounts,22 in which it appears that the selling of large quantities of gold and ivory, carried on in the closing years

14 I. G. 2, 660, 52f.

15 I. G. 2, 645, 646, 656, 657.

16 Synesius, de calu. 19, 83A.

17 See Zosimus 4, 18 where mention is made of a small image of Achilles placed at the foot of the statue of Athena set up in the Parthenon.''


18 Marinus, Vita Procli, 30.

19 Schol. ad Aristid., 50, p. 701 Cant.

20 I. G. 1, 298 and supp. p. 146; also 1, 299, 299a and 556.

21 Nicole, Le Procès de Phidias; Paretti, Röm. Mitt. 1909, p. 271f.

22 Cf. Dinsmoor, Amer. Jour. Arch. 17 (1913), p. 70.

of the work, had its beginning in the sale of gold and silver in the ninth year of the accounts, and continued during the very period in which Paretti, in particular, would have us believe that the statue itself was being built. Since the statue was finished, as it seems, in 439/8 B.C., the building accounts which relate to it must be dated prior to that time; some of them, on the other hand, should be assigned to as early as 443/2 B.C., for they include receipts from the treasurers of Athena who did not contribute to the Parthenon after that date. In general the expense accounts of the building of the statue were kept in lists separate from the regular accounts of the Parthenon, and it is not improbable that the construction of the statue was authorized by a separate decree. It is not the purpose of the writer, however, to give an exhaustive treatment of these chronological matters, but rather to investigate various details of the statue itself, beginning with the question whether the right hand was upheld by a column, as in the best extant replica.


The claim has been made that the pillar was of cult significance, and for that reason one must have had a place in the Athena Parthenos. This theory lacks clear and unmistakable proof such as would be required to overthrow the presumption against it arising not only from the lack of literary evidence, but also from the fact that the pillar is lacking in almost all the extant representations of the Parthenos.

It is claimed by Miss Bennett 23 that this support in a columnar form is found in four copies of the Athena Parthenos: (a) the Varvakeion statuette; (b) an Attic bas-relief of the fourth century; (c) an Athenian tessera; and (d) a Greek gem of intaglio design. She says, further, that it is found in various other monuments not of the type of the Parthenos: (a) Athena Victory; (b) running Athena, connected with the pediment of the Parthenon; (c) Athena Nicephorus; (d) Athena Promachus; (e) Athena Hygieia; and (f) "mourning" Athena.

The items of proof presented by Miss Bennett to support her thesis may be criticised in minor detail as follows: 1. Mention is made of a Cilician coin of the fourth century, the statement

23 Amer. Jour. Arch. 13 (1909), 431ff.

being made that the column is "replaced" by a tree-trunk. The phraseology seems to be due to Collignon, whom Miss Bennett mentions in the same sentence, but the statement begs the question. It is not certain that the coin gives a representation of the Athena Parthenos at all. The deity represented is nude to the waist, and the projections on the shoulders, which have been thought to represent the serpents of the ægis, may with equal right be interpreted as wings. The figure is not a copy in a strict sense of the term; it could not be considered more than an adaptation made on foreign soil and with the introduction of foreign elements. Probably it is an Athena, but not necessarily the Athena Parthenos. It is sufficiently obvious that, even if the identification were beyond doubt, the presence on a foreign coin of a tree-trunk as a support would not in any serious degree argue a column in the original Athenian statue. It would seem more likely in that case that the Cilician coin-type was borrowed from some foreign marble statue of Athena, inspired in a general way by the Parthenos, an added support in the form of a treetrunk being used. The fact that the column as a support is not found on any Athenian coin-type representing the Parthenos ought to be final in this matter. There is no sufficient evidence, in other words, that at this time there was a column to be "replaced." So far as we can ascertain, it was centuries later that a column like that of the Varvakeion statuette came to be used in this connection; hence the importance of this Cilician coin would seem to have been exaggerated. Von Sallet 24 points out that the leaden tessera, above mentioned, is of late date and acknowledged to be of no great importance.

It has been denied also that in the bas-relief to which reference has been made the hand of Athena really rested upon the column. This is, however, a matter in which difference of opinion is possible, since the relief in question is not well preserved; but all important sources, with the exception of the Varvakeion statuette, are unanimously against such an interpretation. The relief shows the influence of the Parthenos, but the Victory is placed differently, holds a different attribute, and the relief manifestly expresses a different thought. The relief is only a modification of the Parthenos type.

24 Zeitschrift für Numismatik 10 (1883), 152-155.

2. The inscriptions 25 cited by Miss Bennett do not give adequate literary support to the idea of the presence of the column in the original statue. Her theory that the stele mentioned in them is the same as the one spoken of by Plutarch 26 is based on a conjecture. Plutarch merely states, without comment, that on a certain stele Pheidias is named as the maker of the Athena Parthenos. We do not know that the stele was a column, such as that of the Varvakeion statuette, and the assumption that it was made of bronze is equally unwarranted. The word stele is used only metaphorically in the sense of a "support"; it is not properly a synonym for column, and Miss Bennett does not point out wherein her usage is justified from literary sources. Yet her only explanation here is this: "Our column may properly be called a στήλη. But the word for column, so far as the writer can learn, is never confused with stele, either in inscriptions or elsewhere. 28

99 27

Besides, it is not at all certain that the "mysterious" bronze stele to which Miss Bennett refers actually existed. The comparatively certain reading, "according to the stele," 29 need not refer to anything at all mysterious. It is known that the gold of the Athena Parthenos was considered a part of the available treasury lists mentioned in I. G. 1.32. 18 ff., in which, by the decree of the Senate and Assembly, the treasurers were to take account, in the presence of the Senate, of the treasures in the various sanctuaries, and were to write it all, item by item, on one stele, keeping the treasures of each deity separate and giving the sum-total of all. This stele was to be set up on the Acropolis, and future accounts were to be rendered by the treasurers at each Panathenaic festival. When certain items of the statue are said, in the inscriptions, to be "complete according to the stele," it seems most likely that the reference is either to this original stele or else to a similar treasury list of some later Panathenaea.

25 I. G. 2, 667, 5 and 2, 670, 7.

26 Pericles 13.

27 Op. cit. p. 436.

28 The nearest approach to an interchange of these terms is found in I. G. 1, p. 69ff. and p. 73ff. ènì σthλns, as compared with I. G. 2, 676, 9, éri Klovos, but the force of the l in these inscriptions is obscure, as it is also in Dittenberger 736, c. 29: OTHλN Èπì TOû KίOvos. In general, however, the meaning of orλn in inscriptions is clear: it is not a structural member but a separate stone, or a plate of bronze, inscribed in accordance with some public decree.

29 I. G. 2, 670 and 2, 719.

« PreviousContinue »