64 Parthenon’s East Pediment

Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker provide a description, historical perspective, and analysis of the Sculpture from the East Pediment of the Parthenon, possibly carved by Phidias.

Phidias (?), Sculpture from the East Pediment of the Parthenon, marble, c. 448–432 BCE, Classical Period (British Museum, London).

The identification of the Parthenon’s pediment figures remains unsettled. It is thought that the east pediment depicted the birth of the goddess Athena (fully grown) from the head of her father, Zeus, though these central figures are now lost.

Scholars have tentitively deduced the identities of the existing figures as follows (left to right):

  • Helios (god of the sun), only the shoulder and arm survive
  • Horse, which was part of a quadriga (four-horse chariot) pulling Helios
  • Dionysus (god of wine), lounging
  • Persephone (daughter of Zeus, abducted by Hades), seated beside her mother Demeter
  • Demeter (goddess of the law, marriage, the seasons, and the harvest), seated between her daugther and the standing figure of Artemis
  • Artemis (goddess of the hunt), shown turning from the central scene
  • a gap, which likely would have been occupied by Zeus and Athena
  • Hestia (goddess of the hearth, later Roman equivilent was Vesta), seated beside Dione
  • Dione seated beside Hestia provides a lap for her daugther Aphrodite. Her name is the feminine varient of Zeus, she is sometimes seen as an equivelent of Gaia, goddess of the Earth
  • Aphrodite (goddess of love and beauty), leans against her mother Dione
  • Horse, thought to belong to either the setting moon (Selene) or night (Nyx)


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Art History I Copyright © by Lumen Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book