Parthenon Sculptures, East Pediment, c. 438-432 BC
123 (height) x 233 (length) cm
Athens, Greece


The Parthenon was a temple dedicated to the warrior goddess Athena, the goddess of wisdom and handicraft. It was built between 447 and 432 BC on the Acropolis, the sacred rock at the heart of Athens. The temple was the centerpiece of a building programme conceived by the city’s leading statesman, Perikles and overseen by the great sculptor Pheidias.  The principal architects of the Parthenon were Iktinos and Kallikrates. The temple was built at the height of Athens’ maritime empire when she held supremacy over the other Greek cities. Built entirely of costly white marble, the temple was lavishly decorated in figured sculpture, designed by Phidias and carved by anonymous masons.  The pediments are triangular spaces, formed by the pitch of the roof at either end of the building. The east pediment, showed the birth of Athena from the head of her father Zeus, and the west pediment showed Athena in contest with Poseidon, god of the sea, to rule the city state Athens. In both east and west pediments, the assembly of figures is artfully composed to fit the triangular frame of the surrounding architecture. The sculpture is remarkable for its ability to turn cold marble into warm flesh and flowing drapery. The carving was embellished with metal attachments and was also painted, and probably gilded.


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