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On View in Bellarmine Hall

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“The image is of a rectangular plaster cast mounted on a wall. The cast is a high relief sculpture with a beige patina depicting two headless figures wearing classical dress. A third smaller winged figure is visible on the shoulder of the figure to the left.”

Open Access

Eros and Aphrodite protect Helen as she runs to a statue of Athena

North Metope 25, Parthenon, Acropolis, Athens
Artist: Unknown Greek Artist Primary
Date: 447-442 BCE
5th century BCE
Dimensions: 49.5 x 54.5 x 10 in. (125.73 x 138.43 x 25.4 cm)
Object Type: Plaster Cast
Creation Place: Europe, Greece
Medium and Support: Plaster cast after Pentelic marble original
Credit Line: Gift of the First Ephorate of Prehistoric & Classical Antiquities, Acropolis Museum, Athens, 2010
Accession Number: 2010.02.06
On View: Bellarmine Hall Cast Corridor

This metope forms a pair with North Metope 24 to describe an episode in the Sacking of Troy when Menelaos races through the city in ruins to find and kill his wife Helen. He blamed her for the deaths of his comrades and the devastation of the Trojan War. Menelaos was fully armed and surely a terrifying vision of rage. The formidable powers of Aphrodite and Eros transformed the warrior who sees his wife anew and falls in love with her again. Helen takes no chances and runs to a statue of Athena for safety and sanctuary. It was presumed she would be safe as long as she touched the statue. Eventually, Menelaos and Helen are reunited and return to Sparta. A Greek vase in the Vatican collections shows a nearly identical scene and it dates to around the time of the Parthenon. Importantly, the figures are labeled on the vase and this provided crucial evidence in identifying the two metopes and served as the key to the theme of the entire metope series on the north side of the Parthenon.

This cast was taken from the Pentelic marble original now in the Acropolis Museum in Athens.

In the photos below, you can see a graphite on paper drawing showing the metope surface in its current condition (© K.A. Schwab, 2009), a proposed reconstruction of the composition (© K.A. Schwab, 2021), and a hypothetical rendering with polychromy using the app Procreate (© K.A. Schwab, 2021).


Fairfield University Art Museum, Fairfield, Connecticut, Gifts from Athens: New Plaster Casts from the Acropolis Museum and Photographs by Socratis Mavrommatis, November 2- December 17, 2021


First Ephorate of Prehistoric & Classical Antiquities, Acropolis Museum, Athens (now called the Acropolis Restoration Project ); gift 2010 to the Fairfield University Art Musuem (now called the Fairfield University Art Museum).


Click a term to view other artwork with the same keyword

Athenian Acropolis
An ancient citadel located in the city of Athens containing the remains of several ancient buildings including the Parthenon, the Propylaea, the Erechtheion, and the Temple of Athena Nike.
Was an ancient metropolis of great importance; settled in Neolithic times. Acropolis was fortified by 1200 BCE; became great city-state, ruling and colonizing over a wide area. It was the center of culture influencing all of the Western world in philosophy, theater, and art. The name refers to the goddess Athena. In Homeric Greek the city's name was in the singular form (Ἀθήνη) then changed in the plural.
Pentelic marble
A famous Greek marble quarried at Mount Pentelikon near Athens. It is pure white but may turn yellow after long exposure to air; a few miniscule veins of talc sometimes cause a faint greenish tint. It was used in antiquity as early as the 6th century BCE and continued to be popular for both sculpture and architecture; both the sculptural decoration and the architectural members of the Parthenon are made of Pentelic marble.
High Classical
Refers to the middle phase of the Greek Classical period and style, from around 450 BCE to around 400 BCE. In sculpture it is characterized by the complete mastery of the ideal human form, represented in balanced, subtle movement and with drapery that clings to the body to reveal the form beneath. In vase painting, it is characterized by an increased refinement and variety of human forms and facial expressions. In architecture it is characterized by a lightening of proportions and a refinement of earlier established orders.
public domain
Land owned and controlled by the state or federal government. Also, the status of publications, products, and processes that are not protected under patent or copyright.
The higher and usually fortified sections of ancient Greek cities, typically containing temples and some public buildings and used as places of refuge.
Ancient Greek
Refers to the culture and styles of ancient Greece, generally excluding modern and prehistoric periods, but including periods between around 900 BCE to around 31 BCE. For the culture of Greece in general, including modern Greece, see "Greek."
Panels between triglyphs in the Doric frieze, often carved.
An ancient temple on the Athenian Acropolis dedicated to the goddess Athena Parthenos during the 5th century BCE. The structure was built to commemorate the Greek victory over the Persians and also served as the city's treasury.
Three-dimensional works of art in which images and forms are produced in relief, in intaglio, or in the round. The term refers particularly to art works created by carving or engraving a hard material, by molding or casting a malleable material (which usually then hardens), or by assembling parts to create a three-dimensional object. It is typically used to refer to large or medium-sized objects made of stone, wood, bronze, or another metal. Small objects are typically referred to as "carvings" or another appropriate term. "Sculpture" refers to works that represent tangible beings, objects, or groups of objects, or are abstract works that have defined edges and boundaries and can be measured. As three-dimensional works become more diffused in space or time, or less tangible, use appropriate specific terms, such as "mail art" or "environmental art."

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