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West Pediment

Subject matter/appropriateness

Shows how Athene became patron of Athens – contest between Poseidon and Athene.

Parthenon – Athene.

Only three surviving figures – Iris, Hermes, and River God Ilisos.

Composition suitability

Chariot slightly squashed in the corner.

River God in corner laying down.

Uses up all the space in the pediment.

Densely packed at the sides.

Similar composition to Cretan bull metope on Zeus at Olympia.

Variety of poses.

Athene and Poseidon overlap – looking back at one another.

Representation of action

Intense action.

Athene and Poseidon create diagonal lines which shows the conflict and tension of the scene.

Horses rearing up on back legs.

Motion lines on drapery shows Iris’ movement.

Action mainly surrounds drapery.

Narrative clarity

Clearer than the East pediment.

Shows more conflict than the East pediment.

Unified story.

Apparent/clear from the ground – easy to see.

Movement of struggle/suspense at apex of the pediment.

Representation of gods

Larger size suggests they are more superior to the humans on the pediment.

More important towards centre of apex.

Female form more apparent.

Use of modelling lines on drapery – runs across leg to show shape beneath, almost transparent drapery.

Hermes – powerful, well defined torso. Heavy inguinal ridge. Muscles visible on stomach.

River God – can tell difference between hard bone and muscle.

East Pediment

Subject matter/appropriateness

Birth of Athene.

Appropriate due to Athene being the patron goddess of Athens.

Composition suitability


Range of poses – all gods different poses, such as reclining figures.

Not symmetry but balance – Dionysus, Aphrodite (?)

Those most important to the story in apex.

Corners filled.

Left: Helios.  Right: Selene.

Temporal meaning/setting.

Representation of action

News of Athene’s birth, waves of excitement.

From centre to the corners.

Excitement decreases towards the corners – some figures have their backs to the action.

Interaction between characters.

Action shown by drapery – wind.

Narrative clarity

One unified story.

There to celebrate Athene’s birth.

Attributions help to identify gods.

Figures at corners are less involved in the story than those at the apex of the pediment.

Representation of gods

Reclining goddesses on right – uses drapery techniques.

U shape = catenary folds.

Transparent drapery = being able to see body through drapery.

Modelling lines = circles to emphasise roundness of legs.

Poses – frontal, profile and ¾ for variety.

Male reclining figure on left Dionysus?

Seated on a lion skin Heracles?

Compare to Doryphoros – similar High Classical style.