The pediment-figures from Aegina, the chief treasure of the Munich collection of ancient sculpture, were found in 1811 by a party of scientific explorers and were restored in Italy under the superintendence of the Danish sculptor, Thorwaldsen. Until lately these Aeginetan figures were our only important group of late archaic Greek sculptures; and, though that is no longer the case, they still retain, and will always retain, an especial interest and significance. They once filled the pediments of a Doric temple of Aphaia, of which considerable remains are still standing. There is no trustworthy external clue to the date of the building, and we are therefore obliged to depend for that on the style of the architecture and sculpture, especially the latter. In the dearth of accurately dated monuments which might serve as standards of comparison, great difference of opinion on this point has prevailed. But we are now somewhat better off, thanks to recent discoveries at Athens and Delphi, and we shall probably not go far wrong in assigning the temple with its sculptures to about 480 B.C. Fig. 52 illustrates, though somewhat incorrectly, the composition of the western pediment.
The subject was a combat, in the presence of Athena, between Greeks and Asiatics, probably on the plain of Troy. A close parallelism existed between the two halves of the pediment, each figure, except the goddess and the fallen warrior at her feet, corresponding to a similar figure on the opposite side. Athena, protectress of the Greeks, stands in the center. She wears two garments, of which the outer one (the only one seen in the illustration) is a marvel of formalism. Her aegis covers her breasts and hangs far down behind; the points of its scalloped edge once bristled with serpents' heads, and there was a Gorgon's head in the middle of the front. She has upon her head a helmet with lofty crest, and carries shield and lance.
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