Ilissos Temple Frieze, Berlin 1483 (Slab C2), two standing figures

Ilissos Temple Frieze, Berlin 1483 (Slab B), figures standing and seated o...

Ilissos Temple Frieze, Berlin 1483 (Slab D), detail of right end: man grab...

Ilissos Temple Frieze, Berlin 1483 (Slab D), rape scene with fleeing women

Ilissos Temple Frieze, Berlin 1483 (Slab C2), detail of left standing figu...

Ilissos Temple Frieze, Berlin 1483 (Slab C2), detail of right standing fig...

Collection: Berlin, Antikenmuseen
Title: Ilissos Temple Frieze
Findspot: Found at Athens
Summary: Quiet figures in landscape/Abduction
Material: Marble
Sculpture Type: Architectural
Category: Separated fragments
Placement: Frieze
Style: High Classical
Technique: Low relief
Original or Copy: Original
Date: ca. 435 BC - ca. 420 BC
Dimensions: H. 0.47 m; D. 0.51-0.57 m, H. of relief 0.045 m. Slab B: W. 0.90 m. Slab C2: W. 0.67 m. W. of slab C2 with C1 (Vienna) 0.96 m. Slab D: W. 0.93 m
Scale: Miniature
Region: Attica
Period: High Classical

Subject Description:

Of the six slabs which survive from the frieze of the Temple on the Ilissos (five are more or less complete and there is a small fragment of a sixth), two complete slabs (B and D) and part of another (C 2) are in Berlin. The joining fragment (C 1) and another complete slab (E) are in Vienna (Vienna 1093 and 1094). A fifth complete slab (in two fragments) and the non-joining fragment of a sixth are in Athens (Athens, NM 3941 and Athens, NM 1780).

Slabs B and C may well have abutted one another; in any case, the scenes on these slabs are clearly related even though the subject has not been identified. A series of men sit or stand in quiet poses. From the left, beginning with B, a bearded man in a himation faces forward, both hands in front of his chest. On the right, two men are seated on a rocky outcropping with two summits. The center figure wears his himation over his left shoulder, seems to be bearded and sits with his left hand raised to his mouth. The figure on the right is perhaps younger, unbearded, wears his himation around his hips and sits with both hands in his lap. Below each of them is an object or objects. On the right the tied sack and bundle are clear enough. On the left the object has been called a pilos and a bucket, but perhaps it is also a sack. Other similar objects appear on the small fragment in Athens, so that it must belong to the same series of slabs. The next figure, on the left side of C1 (in Vienna, no photo in Perseus but see photo of entire slab including cast in Blümel), sits facing slightly left. His rocky seat may be part of the same outcrop depicted on B. He also is bearded, rests his right hand in his lap and extends his left arm outward, from which hangs his himation. The center figure (C2) reaches up with his right arm (only shoulder extant) and leans slightly right. The figure on the far right (C2) leans heavily on a staff, legs crossed, himation draped very loosely around his hips. He appears to look right, which suggests the continuation of the scene in that direction. The figures are relatively isolated and appear to have little to do with one another. The significance of the objects is not clear.

Slab D appears to treat another subject entirely, though it relates to the complete slabs in Vienna and Athens. The subject involves abductions of women. On the left, a man in a chlamys carries off a woman. He holds her around the waist; with her right hand, she holds her himation. A second woman, drapery flying out behind her, flees left. This takes place on level but rocky terrain. On the right a man chases the woman. He is close enough to have grabbed her himation with his outstretched arm. The is a gap in the ground cover, however, and he appears to leap over a crevasse. On the far right stands a child, a young girl, watching the action. On the slab in Vienna, a figure clutches a pillar, apparently seeking sanctuary. Another carries a child.

Various subjects have been proposed: e.g., Theseus and Peirithoos as the travelers who carry sacks. But no solution has been proven. The identity of the deity to whom the temple was dedicated is also unknown, thus providing no clue. It does appear likely from the division of the extant slabs that more than one subject was represented. It is reasonable to suppose that the subjects were divided among the four sides of the building, as in the case of the Temple of Athena Nike, its near twin

Date Description: For many years the Ilissos Temple, thought by some to have been the Temple of Artemis Agrotera, was dated to the early 440s, at the beginning of the Periklean building campaign. More recently the temple has been down-dated, on the basis of new archaeological evidence and a reconsideration of the style of the architecture and sculpture. In 1962 Travlos located the retaining wall of the temple peribolos through excavation, and found in it fill datable to the third quarter of the fifth century, but no later. In 1978 Picön studied the frieze and concluded that its style was close to that of the Nike temple, and should be dated in the 420s (Picón 1978; cf. Athens, Temple of Athena Nike, Athens, Acropolis 973). In 1980 Miles published her reassessment of the architecture, placing the building in the mid-430's, i.e. shortly before the temple of Athena Nike. Some scholars believe that the style of the sculpture indicates a date in this decade as wel

Condition: Nearly complete

Condition Description: This piece comprises two slabs and a fragment of a third, which joins another fragment in Vienna. The corners and edges are worn. The heads of the figures are mostly destroyed. Extremely weathered.

Material Description: Pentelic marble

Associated Building: Athens, Ilissos Temple

Collection History: Acquired in 1897 from the Palazzo Giustiniani in Venice.

Sources Used: Boardman 1985a, figs. 131-2; Krug 1979, 7ff.; Picón 1978, 47ff.; Blümel 1966, no. 107; Miles 1980