Eros and Aphrodite protect Helen as she runs to a statue of Athena
North Metope 25, 447-442 BCE
Unknown Greek Artist
5th century BCE
49.5 x 54.5 x 10 in. (125.73 x 138.43 x 25.4 cm)
Medium and Support:
Plaster cast after Pentelic marble original in the Acropolis Museum, Athens (20213)
Gift of the First Ephorate of Prehistoric & Classical Antiquities, Acropolis Museum, Athens, 2010
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.
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).