Explore highlights
Marble block from the west frieze of the Temple of Athena Nike

 

Height: 17.500 inches

Elgin Collection

GR 1816.6-10.161 (Sculpture 422)

Room 19: Greece: Athens

    Marble block from the west frieze of the Temple of Athena Nike

    The Acropolis, Athens, Greece, around 425 BC

    The Ionic Temple of Athena Nike was completed in the late 420s BC on the site of an earlier shrine. Although completed after his death in 429 BC, it was almost certainly planned as part of Perikles' programme for renewing the architecture of the Acropolis.

    The external frieze is made up of a series of marble blocks carved with battle scenes: on the north a battle between Greeks, involving cavalry; on the south Greeks fighting opponents in oriental dress, probably Persians; on the east an assembly of Greek gods. This block comes from the west frieze, which features Greeks fighting other Greeks.

    In the centre a battle rages around a fallen warrior. A figure on the left stoops to drag his comrade to safety. Opposite him an enemy lunges to grip an ankle, covering his attack with a shield. On the far side of this group warriors from the opposing sides fight it out. The figure on the right, with his right arm raised and elbow bent, probably originally held a spear.

    The block was recovered at the beginning of the nineteenth century by Lord Elgin. Together with other remains of the temple, the frieze had been dismantled and built into the Turkish fortification of the Acropolis.

    J. Boardman, Greek sculpture: the Classical (London, Thames and Hudson, 1985)

    Highlights

    Browse or search over 4,000 highlights from the Museum collection

    On display: Room 19: Greece: Athens

    Shop Online

    The story of the Parthenon Sculptures in the British Museum, £8.99

    The story of the Parthenon Sculptures in the British Museum, £8.99