Figure of a river-god from the west pediment of the Parthenon
The Acropolis, Athens, Greece, about 438-432 BC
Possibly the river Ilissos
The central feature of the west pediment of the Parthenon was the colossal statues of Athena and Poseidon in contest for Athens and the land of Attica (the country around the city).
The reclining figures in the corners of the triangular composition perhaps represent the rivers of Attica. This figure, from the left-hand corner, is thought to personify the river Ilissos, by comparison with figures on the east pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia; the Greek historian Pausanias names them as the local rivers there.
The naked youth's languid form is well adapted to the raking angle of the pediment that framed him. He appears as if caught in the action of raising himself onto a rock. A piece of drapery hangs wet and clinging to his left arm.
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Related highlight objects
Ian Jenkins, Parthenon Sculptures in the British Museum (2007)