Figure of Iris from the west pediment of the Parthenon

Figure of Iris, West pediment of the Parthenon, 400 BC, British Museum, London
Figure of Iris, West pediment of the Parthenon, 400 BC, British Museum, London

The Acropolis, Athens, Greece, about 438-432 BC

The west pediment of the Parthenon showed a local Athenian myth, the contest between the goddess Athena and Poseidon, god of the sea, for the land of Attica (the city of Athens and its countryside). Athena and Poseidon were shown on a colossal scale at the centre of the triangular composition, while other figures were ranged on either side. These included two chariot groups, one for each of the protagonists.

Both Athena and Poseidon were accompanied by divine messengers, Athena by Hermes, Poseidon by Iris. She is shown as if just alighting on the Acropolis. Her drapery is pressed flat against her body and flutters out at the edges. It was held at the waist by a bronze girdle, now missing. Her wings, also missing, were socketed in to her shoulders at the back, where the joins would not have been seen.

Watch a video about the Parthenon Sculptures

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