|Reproduction in the Royal Ontario Museum|
of Phidias' statue of Athena,
finished 438 BC for inside the Parthenon in Athens.
We decided to go to the Royal Ontario Museum as a worth-while afternoon occupation during a snowy weekend. Once there, I walked round a corner into the Greek gallery, and look who I found!
I have seen photographs of this reproduction of Phidias' statue of Athena in the Parthenon again and again. In my ignorance, I thought it was in New York or somewhere, and 12 metres tall like the original (and the reproduction in Nashville). But it's in a small alcove protected from people who would like to touch (like me) by a sheet of glass. Athena is only about two and a half feet (70cms) tall.
According to Plutarch, Phidias* had a lot of trouble with that statue of Athena, culminating in two court cases. Apart from his obviously supreme talents, Phidias was a close friend of the powerful politician Perikles, and so he was a target for the jealousy of lesser mortals.
One court case accused him of stealing some of the gold Athena was covered in. That fact became part of the plot of my novel The Boy with Two Heads. In my story Phidias and Themis' father had had to invest their own gold when they discovered that indeed some gold and jewels were missing from the Athena. They had never got their money back, but the oracle had told them, 'When the boy with two heads ... wins without a fight, Athena will pay her dues.'
You can see why Phidias and statues of Athena are quite important to me as I research the sequel to The Boy.
|left to right: Amazon, ?Perikles, ?Phidias, ?Greek soldier|
from the reproduction shield of Athena
in the Royal Ontario Museum.
Roman copy of bronze
by Phidias in circa 450 BC
Roman copy of bronze
by circle of Phidias
For me this was an afternoon of treasure trove.
As for my companions, they just rolled their eyes and went off to see the bat cave and the dinosaur fossils. Much more fun, they said!
*Phidias in Greek is spelled Pheidias, but he is pronounced simply Phidias, so I use this spelling.
All photos ©Julia M Newsome. Please credit me if you borrow them.