Marble metope from the Parthenon


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

The sculpted decoration of the Parthenon included ninety-two metopes showing scenes of mythical battle. Those on the south flank of the temple included a series featuring human Lapiths in mortal combat with Centaurs. The Centaurs were part-man and part-horse, thus having a civil and a savage side to their nature. The Lapiths, a neighbouring Greek tribe, made the mistake of giving the Centaurs wine at the marriage feast of their king, Peirithoos. The Centaurs attempted to rape the women, with their leader Eurytion trying to carry off the bride. A general battle ensued, with the Lapiths finally victorious.

Here a young Lapith holds a Centaur from behind with one hand, while preparing to deliver a blow with the other. The composition is perfectly balanced, with the protagonists pulling in opposite directions, around a central space filled by the cascading folds of the Lapith's cloak.


  • Title: Marble metope from the Parthenon
  • Date Created: -447/-438
  • Physical Dimensions: Thickness: 137.00cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Subject: centaur; centauromachy; lapith
  • Registration number: 1816,0610.11
  • 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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