Figure of Iris from the west pediment of the Parthenon


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

The west pediment of the Parthenon showed a local Athenian myth, the contest between the goddess Athena and Poseidon, god of the sea, for the land of Attica (the city of Athens and its countryside). Athena and Poseidon were shown on a colossal scale at the centre of the triangular composition, while other figures were ranged on either side. These included two chariot groups, one for each of the protagonists.

Both Athena and Poseidon were accompanied by divine messengers, Athena by Hermes, Poseidon by Iris. She is shown as if just alighting on the Acropolis. Her drapery is pressed flat against her body and flutters out at the edges. It was held at the waist by a belt painted blue. Her bronze wings, now missing, were socketed in to her shoulders at the back, where the joins would not have been seen.


  • Title: Figure of Iris from the west pediment of the Parthenon
  • Date Created: -438/-432
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 135.00cm (approx.)
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Subject: classical deity
  • Registration number: 1816,0610.96
  • Production place: Made in Athens
  • Producer: Designed by Pheidias
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Parthenon
  • Period/culture: Classical Greek
  • Material: marble
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Elgin

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