Mourning Athena

Classical Greek    

replica: from the Louvre, Paris 

gift of: The Diefenbaker Canada Centre, University of Saskatchewan

date of the original: c. 460 BC 

provenance of the original: now in the Acropolis Museum, Athens

description: Bas-relief of Athena holding a spear. Resin replica; Pentelic marble original. Height 55 cm, width 32 cm, depth 5 cm.

Athena was the Greek goddess of wisdom and arts and crafts as well as a warrior goddess par excellence and patron of Athens. Mythology has it that she was born, clad in full armor, from the head of Zeus.

Her attributes include the spear, helmet and the aegis (a goat-skin shield). On her shield she had mounted the Gorgon’s head (see also:Hannibal), given to her by Perseus, which turned every being that looked at it to stone.

In this piece, Athena wears a peplos and Corinthian helmet pushed back on her forehead. She leans against her spear as her eyes look down towards a stele.

It is not clear what type of inscription this stele would have conveyed, though the somber mood of the piece suggests it may well have been funerary in nature.

(See also: Nike Loosening Her Sandal.)