Nyx, the Hesperides, and Atlas


When Ludwig Ross dug around the foundations of the Parthenon in 1836, he found, among other fragments of sculptures lying beneath the east front, only one piece which in his opinion might possibly have fallen from the pediment: a male torso preserved from neck and shoulders to the hips (Fig. 215, next page). Because of the find-spot, the heavy weathering, and indications on the neck that the head was turned a little to the right, the torso is commonly attributed to the right side of the east pediment. The muscular tension [of the sculpture known as Figure H] springs from great physical effort: both arms are raised, the left hip is placed higher, the neck turns to its proper right. The comparatively small scale of the statue necessitates its placement far from the center and therefore at some distance from Zeus.*

Experts from the Institute of Anatomy at the University of Aarhus in Denmark helped Kristian Jeppesen with this technical anatomical analysis of the torso known as Figure H:

The right arm is raised a little more than the left one, as shown by the deltoid muscle. The poise of the head is stooping. The right thigh is almost on a line with the side of the body, while the direction of the left thigh deviates markedly from the axis of the trunk, as indicated by the swelling musculus obliquus externus abdominis on the left side of the torso. That the muscles of the right arm were more tensely activated than those of the left arm is confirmed by the contraction of the trapezoid muscle on the right side of the spine. The sharp dividing line separating the upper and lower musculus rectus abdominis and the deep linia semilunaris on the lower abdomen are obvious signs of physical exertion that cause the lungs to gasp for breath. The contraction of the shoulder blades seems excessive but actually corresponds to an intermediate position.

In Figure 217, next page, a live model trained in body building poses in an attitude comparable to that of the restored torso.


Figure 214: From right to left: Nyx, the Hesperides, and Atlas.

*From the writings of Olga Palagia and Kristian Jeppesen.

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