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Beautiful Evil: Pandora and the Athena Parthenos

Jeffrey M. Hurwit
American Journal of Archaeology
Vol. 99, No. 2 (Apr., 1995), pp. 171-186
DOI: 10.2307/506338
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/506338
Page Count: 16
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Beautiful Evil: Pandora and the Athena Parthenos
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Abstract

The depiction of the Birth of Pandora on the base of the statue of Athena Parthenos has not received all the attention it deserves. This study attempts to place the meaning and function of the myth in the context of both the Parthenon sculptural program as a whole and the Athenian civic ideologies of patriarchy and autochthony. It suggests that the scene operated on several different levels (some of them mundane), but that the relationship of the mortal parthenos below to the divine Parthenos above was essentially one of ambiguity, even dissonance. Pandora may, in fact, have functioned as an "Anti-Athena," and the image of her creation may have reinforced the highly gendered social and political realities of fifth-century Athens.

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