Athena in the Classical World

By Susan Deacy; Alexandra Villing | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ELEVEN
ON THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE ATHENA
VELLETRI TYPE IN HELLENISTIC ALEXANDRIA

Elsie Mathiopoulos

This chapter is concerned with the developments of and innovations in a Classical Athena type in Ptolemaic Alexandria, both in form and content. Taking into consideration a replica of Athena Velletri from Oxyrhynchos (Pl. 11) which has not been given the attention it deserves by scholars, some archaeological conditions, and some fundamental processes within the historic context of Egypt, I will try to trace the later development of this type, beginning around the middle of the third century BC, and its transformation into Athena Tyche. Throughout the course of this transformation, the iconography in its Classical form remains clearly discernible; it is maintained in spite of being stylistically altered and adapted to the Ptolemaic social and religious context.

Research of the last decades has yielded many insights into the typology, the basic traits, and the meaning of statues, especially cult images, of Minerva; however, this research has focused primarily on the city of Rome and the less provincial Eastern regions.' The question of how the meaning of earlier or later Classical iconographic concepts was affected through developments in the Imperial Roman era2- concepts that are known today through their many,

1 In his work Klassizistische Statuen – Studien zur Veränderung des Kunstgeschmacks in der
Kaiserzeit (Mainz: P. von Zabern, 1974) Paul Zanker has taken a new approach to the
interpretation and exploration of the reception of sculptures (mainly from Rome)
the style and subject matter of which are modelled on Classical works. For special-
ized accounts of Athena in the East and the West in Roman Imperial times, see W.
Schürmann, Typologie und Bedeutung der sladtrömischen Minerva-Kultbilder (Rome: G.
Bretschneider, 1985); P. Karanastassis, “Untersuchungen zur Kaiserzeitlichen Plastik
in Griechenland II: Kopien, Varianten und Umbildungen nach Athena-Typen des 5.
Jhs. v. Chr.”, MDAI (A) 102 (1987), 323–428.

2 In the main, scholars still follow the interpretation of the meaning of divine stat-
uary in Classical Athens as it was given by N. Himmelmann-Wildschiitz, Zur Eigenart

-197-

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