25.9.16

Statue of Athena Parthenos from the Library of Pergamon / Αθηνά Παρθένος από την Πέργαμο


Στο κεντρικό αναγνωστήριο της βιβλιοθήκης της Περγάμου, βρισκόταν το άγαλμα αυτό που αποτελούσε αντίγραφο του  αγάλματος της Αθηνάς Παρθένου του Φειδία από την Ακρόπολη των Αθηνών. Η θεά φοράει μακρύ πέπλο και αιγίδα (προστατευτικό θώρακα) με γοργόνειο (το αποτροπαϊκό πρόσωπο της Μέδουσας Γοργούς) στο στήθος. Πιθανόν, με το αριστερό της χέρι να στηριζόταν στο δόρυ και στην ασπίδα της, ενώ στο δεξιό κρατούσε μια μικρή φτερωτή Νίκη. 

The Hellenistic statue of Athena Parthenos (Greek, Ἀθηνᾶ Παρθένος, Athena the Virgin), was made about 200-150 BC of Pentelic marble (from Mount Penteli, Athens). It was found at the end of 1880 among the rubble at the east end of the Library of Pergamon, in the precinct of Athena Polias Nikephoros (Athena of the City, Bringer of Victory) on the Acropolis. 



The restored sculpture now stands in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin, in a room exhibiting emormous parts of architectural monuments from Pergamon and other ancient cities in Asia Minor, including the propylon of the Pergamon Sanctuary of Athena Nikephoros (see gallery 2, page 20). In the photo above the statue stands in front of the reconstructed western front of the 2nd century BC Temple of Zeus Sosipolis from Magnesia on the Maeander, Turkey.

The 310.5 cm tall figure is missing the left side of the neck, the feet as well as both arms. The reconstruction has been been given a neck which appears far too long in proportion to the head and body. The remains of the base on which the figure stands is 40.5 cm high, 118.5 cm wide, 69 cm deep, made from a single block of marble (see photo below). It is thought to have originally been about twice as large: 266 cm long and 133 cm deep.

The statue was modelled on the colossal Athena Parthenos statue, made of a wooden core covered in gold and ivory (chryselephantine), by the Greek sculptor Pheidias around 450-430 BC, which stood in the Parthenon of the Athenian Acropolis.

Although Pheidias' original is lost, two small copies, known as the "Varvakeion statuette" and "Lenormant Athena", in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens (see photos below), and other copies found around the Graeco-Roman world provide modern scholars with an idea of how it looked.

In the Pergamon Athena Parthenos and other copies the goddess wears an Attic helmet. Pausanias mentions that the original was decorated by a sphinx flanked by two griffins, but the Varvakeion statuette has three crests, each supported by a sphinx and two winged horses, or pegasoi.

As in the Varvakeion statuette and many other similar statues of Athena, her shoulders and breast are covered by a breastplate or aegis, which in this case appears to be covered by vertically layered feathers or scales, fastened at the front by the Gorgoneion, the head of the gorgon Medusa .

Numerous holes were drilled in the figure by the sculptor so that details and adornments could be fixed to it with dowels.

The front of base is decorated with a 15 cm high relief, decorated with a row of figures (see photo below). Although badly damaged, parts of seven figures are still visible, and it seems that the surviving part of the relief could not have had space for more than ten figures. The Roman writer Plinius also wrote that the pedestal of Pheidias' original depicted the birth of Pandora and that it included 20 gods; if the image of Pandora herself is added to this number, there must have been 21 figures in total. 

Since the statue is thought to have stood in the Pergamon Library (Athena was a patron goddess of learning and the arts), perhaps it was considered even in Hellenistic times as much as a museum piece as a sacred image.


Installation of the Statue of Athena Parthenos (ca. 170 B.C.)

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