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The Parthenon Frieze. Block E VI
The sequence continues with the other gods: Poseidon, Apollo, Artemis and Aphrodite together with Eros (38-42). The three first gods have survived in good condition and with their faces, whereas Aphrodite is preserved only in small pieces. The figure of Eros is preserved in a cast. Poseidon (38) is depicted as a bearded elder seated and looking seriously toward the procession, with an air of pensiveness, perhaps dwelling on his defeat by the goddess Athena, his contender in the contest for the land of Attica. A cutting in his curly hair shows that he wore a band around his hair, applied in bronze. He wears sandals and an himation, wrapped around the lower part of his body leaving the upper part nude. His right hand hangs free beside his stool and in his raised left hand he will have held his trident, which was painted. Beside him sits another god, the youthful Apollo (39), to the right, his upper body shown in 3/4 view and his head turned left toward Poseidon, with whom he evidently is conversing. His short curly hair is crowned by a stephane, which was added in metal as can be seen from the attachment holes. His right hand rests on his himation which is wrapped around him, leaving the upper right part of his body free. With his raised left hand he will have held an olive branch of bronze.To the right, the goddess Artemis (40) is clad in a chiton that has slipped from her shoulders and an himation. Her long wavy hair is drawn back and gathered in a sakkos (snood). The motive of the bared shoulder, which now appears for the first time in ancient Greek art will later on become a characteristic, not of Artemis, but of Aphrodite. Now comes Aphrodite (41) in fragmentary condition. She sits relaxed and carefree, the upper part of her body turned in 3/4 view. She rests her right forearm with ease on the left thigh of Artemis, who has passed her left hand around Aphrodite’s forearm in a beautiful gesture of love and tenderness. Perhaps this gesture indicates a common cult of these two goddesses, which has not been found. Aphrodite too wears a richly folded chiton with short sleeves held by brooches, a cover on her head and himation partly in folds across her knees, partly hanging in folds beside her seat. Rocky ground is shown by her feet. With her outstretched arm resting on her son Eros’ shoulder (42), she points to the approaching procession. Eros, standing, leans back supporting his lovely nude figure with his right hand on his mother’s knees. In his lowered left hand he holds a parasol by its long handle. This may well be a reference to his participation in the procession of the parasol- carriers, who, however, are omitted from the frieze. He is looking in the direction to which his mother points. The figure of Eros balances that of Iris next to Hera. Clearly the artist wanted to emphasise both the supreme divine couple (Zeus and Hera) and Aphrodite the goddess of love who is by her very essence connected with human life. Hermes and Aphrodite in a way correspond to each other, since both deities are closely connected with mankind. Thus they are shown close to the procession. By the feet of these figures, as with Zeus and Hera, a rocky landscape is denoted. Yet precisely where the gods are meant to be is not entirely clear: are they on Mt. Olympos or are they on the Acropolis where the procession ends? It has even been suggested that they are in the Ancient Agora in the peribolos (precinct) of the Twelve Gods, past which the Panathenaic procession wound its way. The next section of the block has suffered badly. Yet it can be restored on the basis of a cast that belonged to the French consul in Athens, L.S. Fauvel, and had been made in 1787 by order of the French ambassador to the Sublime Porte in Constantinople, Count Choiseul-Gouffier. A group of four men (43-46) are shown, three bearded and one beardless youth, all himation-clad and conversing, their backs to both the gods and the procession. They are leaning on their staffs, two with their legs crossed in a favorite pose of Greek art from archaic times on. These are the other four eponymous heroes, the mythical kings of the Acropolis: to the left is Kekrops (43), to the right of him his successor Erechtheus (46). It is not by chance that they are on the north part of the frieze, toward the Erechtheion, the place where they were worshipped. The third hero was Pandion (45), with his son Aigeus (44) to the left. The stance of the two figures supports this identification. For Pandion rests his right hand on the shoulder of the figure beside him, thus showing a clear connection between the two men: indeed, father and son, given the difference in age. The two last figures (47 and 48) on block VI are not part of the group of heroes. They are teletarches, in charge of the ceremony, and they are receiving the procession on the Acropolis. The left-hand figure (47) is turned toward the south section of the procession and with his raised right hand he signals. The figure on the right (48) is turned toward the right to receive the north section of the procession. The gesture of the first shows clearly that the presence of the gods and heroes is not perceived by those taking part in the procession, and that the two sections of the procession belong together as one. Figures (38-42) have been attributed to the sculptor Alkamenes, Pheidias’ great rival. Figures (43-48) have been attributed to the sculptor Demetrios from the deme of Alopeke.

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Frieze Side
East Frieze
Subject Category
Gods and Godesses

Sacrificial procession
Acropolis Restoration Service
Pentelic marble
E 38, E 39, E 40, E 41, E 42, E 43, E 44, E 45, E 46, E 47, E 48
Acropolis Museum

British Museum
Stone Number