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                          Sculptures from the east pediment of the Parthenon - Greek gods' themes
The East pediment of Parthenon



The sculptural decoration of the Parthenon consists of three units, the metopes, the frieze and the pediments, and is the work of Pheidias and his pupils. The pediment sculptures (438-432 BC) are compositions of figures of supernatural size, isolated or in groups, cut in the round from Pentelic marble. According to the 2nd century AD traveller Pausanias, the theme of the east pediment was the birth of the goddess Athena, and of the west pediment the fight between Athena and Poseidon over the protection of Attica.
The figures at the centre of the east pediment have not survived. They would have been the main participants in the event of Athena's birth from the head of Zeus, i.e. Zeus, Hera and Athena herself, surrounded by the other Greek gods. The chariots of Helios (sun) and Selene (moon) occupied the two corners of the pediment, delineating the time-span of the event.
The casts that are exhibited here are from the original sculptures that decorated the left side of the pediment. Depicted from left to right are: Helios, and the heads of the four horses of his chariot, as he rises from the waves of Oceanos (ocean); opposite him, another of the greek gods - Dionysos, half-lying on a rock which is covered by his garment and the panther skin he usually wears. Then follow two seated greek goddesses, Demeter and Kore, and a standing figure (Hebe or Artemis) who moves towards them, announcing the event.
The central group, with the birth of the goddess, was lost when the Parthenon was converted into a Christian church (5th cent. AD). Modern reconstructions have been based on fragments of torsos found on the Acropolis and in accordance with other representations of the same subject. The sculptures that remained in their original position on the building were sketched by J. Carrey (1674). They were almost entirely removed by Lord Elgin from 1801 onwards and, since 1816 they are in the British Museum, where they are exhibited. Now, the two inside horses from the chariots of both Helios and Selene, as well as the torso of Selene, are in the Acropolis Museum.






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