Collection: Athens, Acropolis Museum
Title: Relief from an honorary decree for a priestess of Athena (?)
Context: From Athens
Findspot: Found at Athens, Acropolis 2758: Athens, Akropolis, near the Erechtheion in (found in 1860); findspot of Athens, Acropolis 2427 unknown.
Object Function: Honorary?
Material: Marble
Sculpture Type: Stele, relief-decorated
Category: Separated fragments
Style: Late Classical
Technique: Low relief
Original or Copy: Original
Date: ca. 400 BC - ca. 375 BC
Dimensions: P.H. 0.30 m; P.W. 0.555 m; Th. 0.155 m; P.H. (stele) 0.39 m; D. (relief) 0.03 m
Scale: Miniature (pictorial field)
Region: Attica
Period: Late Classical

Subject Description:

A male figure (broken off at the knees, head and most of right side chipped off), perhaps Herakles, leaning his left elbow on a staff obscured by his drapery, profile to the right, with weight on his right leg, and his relaxed left leg crossing in front of it (?), wearing a himation over his left arm/shoulder, and draped down his back, holds a club-like object in his forward, slightly lowered right hand; on a larger scale, Athena (broken off below her buttocks, head and right shoulder chipped off), seated profile to the right, wearing a belted chiton, a himation wrapped around her thighs and over her left arm, and a Corinthian helmet, holds a (painted) spear (?) upright in her upraised left hand, and reaches forward her right hand to crown the honorand; the inside of her shield, incised into the background; a smaller female figure, the honorand (broken off at the waist, head and right hand chipped off), standing near frontal (slightly to the left), wearing a sleeveless chiton (?), and a himation around her lower body, rolled around the waist, and draped over her left shoulder and bent left arm, raises her right hand (in adoration?); a large, bearded male figure, probably Demos (broken off below his thighs, and along his left side, with his head chipped), slightly smaller than Athena, standing 3/4-view to the left, wearing a himation draped diagonally over his left shoulder, over a chiton, raises his right hand (with his empty [?] palm facing inward), above the head of the honorand, and holds a round object (a wreath?), presumably in his right hand, raised to the right of his head.

The relief may have been balanced on the right by an additional female figure. It is likely that the unknown male figure and this conjectured female figure are personifications (Boule and Demos), for Demos at least is shown on a scale intermediate between Athena and the honorand. Schöne (Schöne 1872, 44) made the unlikely suggestion that the honorand was also a personification. Walter 1923, 15 originally suggested that the honorand was a priestess of Athena Polias or an arrephora, and that the male figure was a phyle hero. Honorary decrees for women are unusual; see Lawton 1995, no. 164=IG 2.2, 77

Form & Style: Part of the left anta (W. 0.05 m) supporting a possible entablature (H. 0.075 m) is preserved.

Condition: Single piece

Condition Description: Two joining fragments, rejoined, preserving part of the top and left edges, broken along the right edge, and cut along bottom edge; two modern dowel holes in bottom (L. 0.025 m; W. 0.016 m; D. 0.075 m); rough-picked back; medium-picked top; anta and band above completely chipped away; surface worn, battered, and corroded, with heads picked off; light pinkish-orange stain all over; white, gray, and tan soil and modern plaster adhesions around lower edge.

Material Description: White, medium-grained marble

Sources Used: Lawton 1995, 125 no. 91, pl. 48 (with previous bibliography).