Pergamon Altar: Athena Frieze

Unknownc. 170 BCE

Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

The Pergamon Altar is the huge monument from which the Pergamon Museum takes its name. The fragments of this great Hellenistic altar of the second century BCE were found during excavations in Pergamon between 1878 and 1886. At the centre of the Altar Room stands a reconstruction of the west front of the Pergamon Altar. The large frieze, consisting of the original relief from the podium beneath the wings that projected on either side of the staircase, shows a battle between the gods and the giants. In the mythical Gigantomachy, or Battle of the Giants, the gods, guarantors of legitimate order, were attacked by the giants, children of Mother Earth and symbols of the chaos-inducing forces of nature. With the help of the hero Heracles, a human, the Gods would prove victorious. In the frieze the gods are grouped into 'families': in the east are the Olympians; in the south the gods of light and day; in the north the powers of war and fate; and in the west the circle of Dionysus and the gods of the sea. The part of the north wing of the altar shows Triton, son of Poseidon, with his powerful fishtail, together with his mother Amphitrite, doing battle with four giants. The goddess's opponent is identifiable as an earthly being by its serpent legs.

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  • Title: Pergamon Altar: Athena Frieze
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: c. 170 BCE
  • Physical Dimensions: h2.3 m
  • Type: Relief
  • Medium: Marble
  • Rights: Text: © <a href="http://www.scalapublishers.com">Scala Publishers</a> / Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Volker Kästner Audio: © <a href="http://www.tonwelt.de/en">Tonwelt</a> / Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz Photo: © <a href="http://www.bpk-images.de">b p k - Photo Agency</a> / Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin /Johannes Laurentius

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