The colossal bronze statue o Athena, known as Athena Promachos, dominated
in the area between the Propylaia and the Erechtheion, to the left of
the visitor walking along the processional way of the Acropolis.
It was made by the renowned sculptor Pheidias probably at the bronze foundry
situated at the southwest slope of the Acropolis.
The Athenians dedicated the statue to Athena, to express their graditute
for her contribution to the victories in the Persian Wars.
Later sources refer that its construction was financed from the
Persian spoils. However, according to the inscription with the expense
accounts, the construction of the statue is dated to 475 - 450 B.C.
The exact form of the statue is not known, but later copies and coins of the
Roman Period present the goddess standing, in a calm pose, wearing a belted
peplos (robe). According to another version, the outstretched right hand
held a Nike (Victory) or an owl.
Pausanias, the 2nd cent. A.D. traveler, mentions that her shield was
decorated with scenes from the Centauromachy (battle between Centaurs and
Lapiths), executed by the famous bronze sculptor Mys, following drawings
by the painter Parrhasios. The total height of the statue with the pedestal
is estimated around 9.00 m. According to ancient tradition, the point of her
spear at the crest of her helmet were visible to sailors at sea
off cape Sounion. Athena's pedestal, measuring 5x5 m, was repaired in the
Roman Period, probably in the Time of Augustus (31 B.C. - 14 A.D.)
Fragments of its crowning with relief moulding have been preserved to the
Pheidias' masterpiece was carried to Constantinople, and was placed at the
hippodrome, probably in the 5th cent. A.D. There, it was destroyed by the crowd
during the siege of the city by the Franks in 1204,because it was considered
that the outstretched hand of the goddess beckoned the enemy.
Copyright ©. Photo : Michael Lahanas (Μιχάλης Λαχανάς)
Medieval Greece / Byzantine Empire