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Athens and Messana
I3 148 Leiden, Rijksmuseum van Oudheden RO.III.95 420s (?) Plate 34

Fragment seen in Athens by early 19th-century traveller William Gell, subsequently taken to Netherlands by Dutch colonel B. E. A. Rottiers and acquired from him by Rijksmuseum in 1826. Preserves part of top, otherwise broken all around. Relief bordered above by taenia inscribed [---]ΟΚΛΣ Θ[---] and ovolo. Surface worn, corroded. p.h. 0.17, p.w. 0.10. Not examined.

Standing on the left side of the fragment is a female figure, of whom only the head, arms, and torso are preserved. She turns in three-quarter view toward the right and, as the prominence of her left hip indicates, stands with her weight on her left leg. Her left arm, broken off at mid-forearm, is extended at shoulder level toward the right, and her right hand, broken off at the wrist, is extended downward toward the right. She wears a peplos with unbelted overfold and a heavy head-dress like a polos consisting of a round, cushion-like base with a high, flaring crown above it. On the relief ground just to the right of the head-dress are the letters ΜΕΣΣ[Ι̣---, which usually have been understood to identify the figure as a personification of Messenia (cf. no. 120, a personification of Salamis). Just below her right hand are traces of two letters, ΠΡ̣

The evidence for dating the fragment is inconclusive. Meritt and Wade-Gery forcefully argued that, owing to the presence of both the three- and four-barred sigma, a date much later than 446/45 is to be excluded; this is the generally accepted date for the disappearance of the three-barred sigma in Athenian public inscriptions.

Proponents of this view have abandoned Wilamowitz's early restoration of the archon Philokles of 459/58 in favour of Kirchhoff's restoration of an unknown secretary, and have assumed that such a mid-century document must have concerned the Messenians sealed at Naupaktos rather than Messenia itself, which was under Spartan control. It has long been noted, however, that the style of the sculpture seems much later. In the prominence of her left hip, the degree of transparency of her drapery, and the treatment of the V-folds between her breasts, the figure appears to belong between the peplophoroi of the Parthenon frieze (Brommer, pls. 186, 187) and the Erechtheion korai (Ridgway, figs. 82, 83), therefore probably in the 4205 (cf. also no. 3). The style lends support to the suggestion of Mattingly, following Woodhead, and an earlier view put forward but ultimately rejected by Michaelis, that the document concerned not the Peloponnesian Messenia but the Sicilian Messana; the Attic form of the name is Messene. Woodhead had accepted the traditional mid-century date, but Mattingly, a vigorous opponent of the three-barred sigma rule, associated the relief with an alliance apparently made between Athens and Messana in 427/26 (Thuc. 3.90.4). Beginning ca. 430 coins of Messana depict a female charioteer, sometimes with the label Messana just before her head, riding in a mule-car (Head, Historia Numorum, 153-54; C. M. Kraay and M. Hirmer, Greek Coins [1966] pls. 17 fig. 55 0, 18 figs. 56, 57). The figure in the relief may be the same Messana, her extended hands holding the reins and urging her animals on (cf. no. 122). Any restoration of the formula identifying the official on the moulding above her indicates that there would have been sufficient room on the right side of the relief for the mules.

CIG 873; L. Janssen, De grieksche, romeinsche en etrurische Monumenten van het Museum van Oudheden te Leyden (1848) 43 no. 1, 282; Grieksche en romeinsche Grafreliefs, uit het Museum van Oudheden te Leyden (1851) pl. 7, 18; A. Michaelis, AZ 3.3 (1876) 104 (drwg.)-6; A. Dumont, BCH 2 (1878) 565; Friederichs and Wolters, 382 no. 1156; P. Gardner, JHS 9 (1888) 59-60; IG I Suppl. p. 9, no. 22g; U. von Wilamowitz-Möllendorf, Aristoteles und Athen II (1893) 296; R. von Scala, Die Staatsverträge des Altertums 1 (1898) 38 no. 53; Matz, 47-49; A. B. West, CP 20 (1925) 234 n. 5; IG I2 37; Gardner, New Chapters in Greek Art (1926) 235-36; Binneboeßel, 6 no. 17, 28, 40-42; H. Speier, RM 47 (1932) 23, 24, 90, pl. 6; Svoronos, 599; Süsserott, 28 n. 5; B.D. Meritt, Hesperia 13 (1944) 224-29, fig. p. 228; A. E. Raubitschek, TAPA 75 (1944) 10 n. 3; SEG 10.9; Meritt and H.T. Wade-Gery, JHS 83 (1963) 115-17; SEG 19.10; Hamdorf, 92 no. 227 (a); SEG 21.25; H. B. Mattingly, CQ ns 16 (1966) 186-87; R. Meiggs, JHS 86 (1966) 96 no. 36; SEG 23.13; Mattingly, Atti del I Convegno del Centro Internazionale di Studi Numismatici, 1967 (1969) 214; SEG 25.17; Mitropoulou, Contributions, 56-57 no. 8c; Corpus I, 175 no. 17 bis, fig. 163; Mattingly, Epigraphica 36 (1974) 50-51; Meyer, 269 A 13, pl. 7.1; SEG 36.137.

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