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STUDIES ON THE ATHENA PARTHENOS OF PHEIDIAS

Twenty statues of gold and ivory are mentioned by Pausanias, who names Pheidias as the sculptor of five: Zeus at Olympia, Heavenly Aphrodite at Elis, and three statues of Athena, at Athens, Elis, and Pellene; he also refers to the same artist as the helper of Theocosmus on the unfinished image of Zeus at Megara. The statue of Athena Parthenos in the Parthenon at Athens may not have been regarded as Pheidias' greatest work in chryselephantine technique, but one may safely affirm that to the modern student no other is of such transcendent interest.

The description of Pausanias 1 is circumstantial. "The statue itself,” he says, "is made of ivory and gold. Upon the middle of the helmet is the figure of a Sphinx

side of the helmet griffins are wrought.

and on either The statue of

Athena is erect, in a chiton reaching to the feet, and on her breast is the head of Medusa made of ivory. And she holds both a Victory of about four cubits, and in her hand a spear, and at her feet lies a shield, and near the spear is a serpent. This serpent may be Erichthonius. On the base of the statue is wrought Pandora's birth."

This description is confirmed by the statements of other writers, who add numerous details not mentioned by Pausanias. The height of the image was twenty-six cubits. Its face, hands, and feet were of ivory, while the pupils of the eyes were of stone.3 The gold of the statue could all be removed. On the outside of the shield, in the representation of the battle of the Greeks and Amazons, Pheidias placed portrait reliefs of Pericles and himself. On the inside of the shield was depicted the battle of gods 11, 24, 5-7.

5

2 Pliny N. H. 36, 18.

3 Plato Hipp. major, p. 290b.

4 Thuc. 2.13; Diod. 12.40; Plut. Per. 31.

Plut. Per. 31; Dio Chrys. Or. 12, p. 373R; Val. Max. 8.14.6; Cicero Tusc. 1.15.34; Aristotle De mundo 6, p. 399b; Apuleius, De mundo 32.

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