22. THE BRITISH MUSEUM. 219
destroyed in the Persian war. It was adorned with sculptures
under the supervision of Phidias. A statue of Athena, formed of
gold and ivory, stood in the interior of the cella. The sculptures
preserved here consist of the frieze round the exterior of the cella,
15metopae, and the relics of the two pediments, unfortunately in very
imperfect preservation. The figures of the deities represented are
most nobly conceived, admirably executed, and beautifully draped.
On entering the room, we perceive on our left a model of the Par¬
thenon , in the state in which it was left after its bombardment by the
Venetian General Morosini in 1687. Then follow the remains of the E.
Pediment, representing the Birth of Athena, who, according to Greek
mythology, issued in full armour from the head of Zeus.
In the left angle of the tympanum we observe two arms and a mutil¬
ated human head, in front of which are two spirited horses' heads, also
considerably damaged. These are considered to represent a group of
Helios, the god of the rising sun , ascending in his chariot from the
depths of the ocean, his outstretched arms grasping the reins of his
steeds. Next comes Theseus (or HerculesV), who, leaning in a half re¬
cumbent posture on a rock covered with a lion"s hide, seems t3 be greet¬
ing the ascending orb of day. This figure, the only one on which the
head remains, is among the best preserved in the two pediments. Next
to Theseus is a group of two sitting female figures in long drapery, who
turn with an appearance of lively interest towards the central group —
perhaps the Attic Hours, Thallo and Auxo (or Ceres and Proserpine?).
Then comes the erect female figure of Iris, messenger of the gods,
whose waving robes betoken rapid motion; the upper part of her body
is turned towards the central group, and she seems to have barely wait¬
ed for the birth of the Goddess before starting to communicate the glad
tidings to the inhabitants of earth.
The central group, probably representing Minerva surrounded by the
gods, is entirely wanting. The space occupied by it, indicated here by an
opening in the middle of the sculptures, must have measured 33-40 ft. in
Next comes, on the right, a torso of Victory. Then a noble group of
two sitting female forms, in the lap of one of which reclines a third fe¬
male, probably representing Aglauros, Herse, and Pandrosos, the three
daughters of Cecrops (or the three Fates?). Adjacent, in the angle of
the tympanum, the torso of Selene (the goddess of the moon), as a charioteer,
and by her side the head of one of her coursers. This portion of the frieze
is thought to have shown the Moon sinking into the sea at the approach
of Day. The horse's head is in good preservation.
We next reach, on the left side of the room, the capital of a Doric
column from the Propylaeum, the magnificent entrance to the Acropolis;
sitting figure of Dionysos from the Choragic Monument of Thrasyllos at
Athens; figure of a boy (Eros) from the Acropolis.
The remains of the West Pediment are on the opposite side of the
room. They are by no means in so good preservation as those from the
East Pediment', and we can only form an idea of their meaning and
connection from a drawing executed by the French painter Carrey in
1674, which contains several groups that are now wanting. The sub¬
ject of the sculptures is the Strife of Minerva and Neptune for the soil
of Athens. By a stroke of his trident Neptune caused a salt-spring to
gush forth from the soil, but his gift was outdone by that of Minerva,
who produced the olive-tree, and was adjudged the possession of the city.
The moment chosen for representation is that, after the decision of the
contest, when the two deities part from each other in anger. In the left
angle we observe the torso of a recumbent male figure, probably the
river god Cephissus. Next to it is a cast of a group of two figures (the
original is in Athens), supposed to be Hercules and Hebe; the male figure
is in a semi-recumbent posture, propped upon his left arm, the female