The lost statue of “Athena Limnia”

In 511 BC. the Persians with their fleet occupied Lemnos. In 479 BC. the Athenians completely destroyed the Persian fleet and immediately occupied Lemnos again. This time they brought Athenian citizens who settled on Lemnos permanently.
A few years later these Athenian settlers commissioned Pheidias (the best sculptor at that time) to sculpture the famous statue known as “Athena Limnia”. Lucian praises the beauty of the masterpiece, which was erected outdoors, North-East of the Propylaea of the Acropolis of Athens. Pheidias worked from 451 BC to 448 BC to create the famous statue of “Athena Limnia”.

The statue was the only one that the goddess did not wear her helmet, but held it in her hand. The goddess was depicted standing, with one hand (left) resting on the spear, while holding her helmet with her right hand.

This masterpiece of Pheidias no longer exists. Fortunately, several Romans had made marble copies of the statue. The body of one of these copies was in the museum in Dresden (East Germany), while the head of the same marble copy was in the museum in Bologna, (central Italy). The German archaeologists requested a plaster copy of the statue’s head from the Bologna Museum and thus created the representation of the statue in the Dresden Museum.

Because it was our ardent desire to have on the cover of our book the color photograph of the statue of “Limnia Athena” we managed in 1989, after three years of efforts, to buy a black and white photograph of the statue from the museum of Dresden. So, we commissioned the painter Clive Kirk (Johannesburg-South Africa), to paint a color painting, based on the black and white museum photograph, and photographs of other bronze statues from the Museum of Athens. The height of the spearhead is 2.60 meters.

Cover photo of our book “The island of Lemnos” in Greek and English.