Marble statue of Demeter

Greek, carved around 350 BC
From Knidos, in south-west Asia Minor (modern Turkey)

Greek goddess of fertility

The Sanctuary of Demeter at Knidos was laid out at about the same time as the re-founding of the city, around 350 BC. The sanctuary consisted of a long platform terraced into the side of an acropolis, with spectacular views of the city below and the sea beyond. Many votive sculptures were once displayed within the sanctuary. Most of these survive only as fragments, but this cult statue of Demeter herself is remarkably intact.

Demeter was the goddess of fertility; she governed the cycle of the seasons and the growing of grain. She was also associated with the Underworld and at Knidos was worshipped together with other infernal deities, including Hades and her own daughter Persephone.

Here, Demeter is shown seated on a throne - the back part and arm-rails have broken away and are missing. Her lower arms and hands are also lost, though she probably once held a libation bowl or torch. The head was carved separately from the body and socketed into the neck. Demeter is portrayed as a model of Greek womanhood - serene, mature, motherly and modestly veiled.

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More information

Bibliography

B. Ashmole, 'Demeter of Cnidus', Journal of Hellenic Studies-1, 71 (1951), pp. 13-28

Dimensions

Height: 1.500 m (approx.)

Museum number

GR 1859.12-26.26 (Sculpture 1300)

GAA8321

Excavated by Sir Charles Thomas Newton

Location

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