|Title:||Aegina, E. Ped. 2, fig. E 1: Athena|
|Context:||From Aegina, Sanctuary of Aphaia|
|Findspot:||Excavated at Aegina, Sanctuary of Aphaia|
|Placement:||East pediment 2|
|Date:||ca. 490 BC - ca. 480 BC|
Restored H 1.74 m (= H of ped.); H of head frag. 0.31 m
|In Group:||Aegina East Pediment 2|
Subject Description: Relatively little of the East Pediment Athena is preserved. Fortunately those fragments which have survived allow a reasonably full reconstruction of the figure. Feet fragments attached to part of the plinth, together with part of the bedding in the pediment floor, suggest both feet faced right. Fragments of the left lower arm and hand grasping the aegis edge show that it was extended from the body, probably in the same direction. A fragment of the right breast and shoulder as well as the neck of the well-preserved head suggest a twist of the upper body — the upper torso and head faced essentially outward, toward the viewer. The whole recalls the figure of Athena on the krater in Boston by the Tyszkiewicz Painter (
Form & Style:
Like the West Pediment Athena, she stands in the center of the gable, overseeing the battle that rages on either side. Unlike the West Athena, she is more of a participant. The moment or attitude depicted is a different one. The West Athena stood as if unwilling to impose herself on the evenly matched contestants. Here too the sides are balanced, but Athena intervenes. She wields her aegis like a weapon, which she has draped over her left arm. The wide-set feet suggest a step, imminent if not yet realized. They also serve to balance the outstretched left arm which, weighted with the heavy aegis, would otherwise destabilize her. A fighting Athena is not un-archaic; she appears as such in the slightly earlier Acropolis pediment and elsewhere, though such instances are normally Gigantomachies and Athena is not the central figure. The important development here, however, is the way in which the active figure with all limbs extended visually unifies the pediment, rather than dividing it into two halves. Her more militaristic stance may also be significant in understanding the political context of the East Pediment and the reason for the change of design.
If her pose and relation to the composition as a whole exhibit a stylistic development on one level, the details of drapery and body show a striking change as well. A comparison of the heads is particularly instructive, since both are so well preserved. Ridgway has noted that the features of the East Athena occupy a larger proportion of the face. The shape is also clearly different. The widest point is at the temples rather than the cheeks, hence creating a truer oval and de-emphasizing the horizontal aspect. The added metal hairpiece was shaped to emphasize the oval or vertical aspect as well (see reconstruction drawing of the head). The upper lip is now much more prominent, down-playing the so-called archaic smile still quite noticeable in the West Athena. However the hint of a smile, as well as the relatively strong projection of the cheekbones, place the head on the crest of Early Classical development rather than well within it. The fragments of drapery likewise suggest a more free-flowing, less schematic design than the drapery of the West Athena. The contrast between the two figures is indeed great, so much so that they are often cited as representing the watershed between the Late Archaic and Early Classical style. Because of the fast-breaking developments in this period, the estimated difference in actual date may sometimes be exaggerated.
Only a small proportion of the figure is preserved, but those fragments include: head, including all of the face; right shoulder and breast; both feet; lower left arm and hand grasping aegis.
Associated Building: Aegina, Temple of Aphaia