- Museum number
- Series: The Parthenon Sculptures
Marble relief (Block XLIV) from the South frieze of the Parthenon. The frieze shows the procession of the Panathenaic festival, the commemoration of the birthday of the goddess Athena.
The block shows a cow that is being led for sacrifice. Four youths are shown and the remains of two others on the extreme left and right, all wearing long cloaks. The youth on the left looks round to observe the commotion on the block behind him. At the same time he shortens the halter of the beast under his charge. A second youth reaches out to assist him and also looks back. Meanwhile the animal registers a protest by straining its neck upwards. The halter must have been added in paint. The flank of another beast is visible between the poorly preserved figure on the right and the youth looking back. This detail connects with the forepart of the animal that is carved on the next block, Block XLV. The head and dewlap of the beast on the next block, Block XLV, also connect well with the flank on this block. Further detail connecting Blocks XLIV and XLV is the line of the damaged arm of the youth on XLIV, which connects convincingly with the hand on XLV. (For argument see Jenkins, ‘The south frieze of the Parthenon: problems in arrangement’, American Journal of Archaeology, 99, p. 445-56). The broad, blank hides of the beasts contrast pleasingly with the complex folds of the drapery of the youths who lead them.
This scene in the frieze is thought to have inspired the poet John Keats in his ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’, to write of ‘the heifer lowing to the skies’.
For more information on the pedestrian-procession see South frieze Block XXXVI. The explosion of the Parthenon in 1687 damaged the South frieze the most.
- Production date
- On display (G18)
- Exhibition history
2018, 26 Apr-29 Jul,The British Museum, Rodin and the art of ancient Greece.
- Acquisition date
- Greek and Roman
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: South Frieze, Block XLIV