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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: October 2010
  • First published in: 1896

CHAPTER XI - MONUMENTS OF ATHENA-WORSHIP

Summary

Among the monuments that illustrate the worship of Athena, we find the coin-representations in some respects the most important. Not only do they give us manifold testimony of the character that belonged to her in the national religion, but they also prove more clearly than any other monumental evidence the very wide diffusion of her cult.

The very large number of vases upon which her figure appears have more to do with mythology than with public worship; perhaps the only type of the goddess, preserved in vase-paintings, which can be certainly recognized as connected with cult is that of the warlike Athena holding her shield and brandishing her spear, the type of the ancient Palladia and probably of the Athena Polias.

As regards the works of sculpture, those to which any definite cult-name can be attached are very few; but many, and especially those that can be connected with the creations of Pheidias, are of very great value for the history of religious art. We have no proof of the prevalence of wholly aniconic images of Athena, and it has been shown that the religion of Pallas contained comparatively few ‘ survivals’ of primitive thought and primitive ritual. The earliest monuments that have come down to us express ideas that are already relatively advanced.

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