The statue of Athena Promachos in the Acropolis of Athens

The colossal bronze sratue of Athena, known as Athena Promachos, dominated in the area between the Propylaia and the Erechteion, to the left of the visitor walking along the processional way of the Acropolis. It was made by the renowned sculptor Pheidias probably at the bronze foundry situated at the southwest slope of the Acropolis. The Athenians dedicated the statue to Athena, to express their graditude for her contribution to the victories in the Persian Wars. Later sources refer that its contribution was financed from the Persian spoils. However, according to the inscription with the expense accounts, the construction of the statue is dated to 475-450 B.C.

The exact form of the statue is not known, but later copies and coins of the Roman Period present the goddess standing, in a calm pose, wearing a belted peplos (robe). According to another version, the outstretched right hand held a Nike (Victory) or an owl. Pausanias, the 2nd cent. A.D. traveler, mentions that her shield was decorated with scenes from the Centauromachy (battle between Centaurs and Lapiths), executed by the famous bronze sculptor Mys, following drawings by the painter Parrhasios. The total height of the statue with the pedestal is estimated around 9.00 m. According to ancient tradition, the point of her spear and the crest of her helmet were visible to sailors at sea off cape Sounion. Athena’s pedestal, measuring 5X5 m., was repaired in the Roman Period, probably in the Time of Augustus (31B.C.-14 A.D.). Fragments of its crowing with relief mouldings have been preserved to the present day.

Pheidias’ masterpiece was carried to Constantinople, and was placed at the hippodrome, probably in the 5th cent. A.D. There, it was destroyed by the crowd during the siege of the city by the Franks in 1204, because it was considered that the outstretched hand of the goddess beckoned the enemy.

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