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The Parthenon Frieze. Block E IV
Depicted on this block are four male figures (20-23) in a pose of expectation and four Olympian gods (24-27), seated on stools. The rest of the divinities are shown on the adjoining blocks V and VI. The four male figures (20-23) are leaning on their staffs or cudgels, three of which are shown in relief, while the fourth was added in paint. Two of the figures are bearded (20 and 23). Clearly they are not taking part in the procession and, as the two male figures on block III, on the basis of various criteria they have been interpreted by a number of scholars as eponymous heroes. Yet it is likely that they are officials who are receiving the procession and mediate between the mortals and the gods. The four gods seated on stools (24-27) and represented at a larger scale than the human figures, have turned their backs on the central scene and look instead toward the arriving procession. Most can be identified from their symbols. The first to the left is Hermes (24), seated in relaxed fashion facing left, and with his back against the next god who is identified as Dionysos (25). Hermes is depicted as nude above the waist, with his chlamys over the lower part of his body and his petasos on his knees. He probably held a metal kerykeion (herald’s staff) in his right hand, which rests on the knee of his extended left leg. He wears high boots (krepides). To the right, behind him, Dionysos (25), with himation over the lower part of his body, is sitting on a stool with a flat pillow. Although he is seated in the opposite direction, the upper part of his body is frontal and he turns his head back to the left. He bends his right arm to rest it on the back of Hermes’ shoulder. His raised right hand no doubt once held his symbol, a thyrsos (a wand ending in a pine-cone and entwined with ivy and vine-leaves), which was added in paint. Opposite him to the right sits a goddess who is identified as Demeter (26). She is clad in a peplos with overfold and kolpos. She leans slightly forward, her knees between Dionysos’ legs. In her left hand she holds her torch (dada) and with her right hand raised to her face she makes a gesture of grief, no doubt for the loss of her daughter to Plouton. Behind her on a stool sits a stalwart god (27), indifferent, both hands locked around his raised right knee, which is bent with foot drawn up. His extended right foot must have rested against a rock, once painted. Discernable at the heel of his left foot is part of the spear that continued in paint behind the god’s right shoulder. This is, indeed, Ares, for he carries his weapon and sits in the characteristic, momentary pose known also from another sculptural type representing the god, of the end of the 4th century B.C. (the Ludovisi Ares).

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Frieze Side
East Frieze
Subject Category
Sacrificial procession

Gods and Godesses
Acropolis Restoration Service
Pentelic marble
E 20, E 21, E 22, E 23, E 24, E 25, E 26, E 27
British Museum
Stone Number