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Journal Articles Symbolae Osloenses Year : 2023

Life and Death on the East Frieze of the Parthenon

Pär Ola Sandin
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The gods on the Parthenon frieze are represented as looking out on the real world from the position of their material image on the Acropolis, displaying the contemporary imperial self-awareness of Athens. Poseidon's gaze guards the entrance to the straits of Artemisium. Hermes and Ares look towards Egypt with implicit adversary intent. Aphrodite pointing something out to Eros means that she is indicating a victim of love in an unspecified location. Artemis follows her indication, assuming duty as the goddess of childbirth, the locally worshipped Brauronia. On the East pediment, Aphrodite rests in the bosom of Artemis in a similar fashion as on the frieze. The association of Eros and Aphrodite with Artemis Brauronia, representing the creation of life, and the general divine concord presented on the East frieze, are expressions of the optimistic and imperial hegemonic ideology prominent in Athens in the period between the two major wars (479-431 B.C.). On the other hand, Demeter on the left looks with longing at Hermes and Dionysus, experienced visitors to the land of the dead, where her daughter resides. Including Ares, the group of four gods on the left, in polar contrast to the three gods on the rightmost side, allude to the opposite of life.
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Dates and versions

hprints-04138541 , version 1 (23-06-2023)





Pär Ola Sandin. Life and Death on the East Frieze of the Parthenon. Symbolae Osloenses, 2023, 96, pp.4-44. ⟨10.1080/00397679.2023.2175502⟩. ⟨hprints-04138541⟩
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