Roman copy of a Greek bronze statue by Kephisodotos, ca. 375/374360/359 b.c.
Marble; H. without plinth 69 3/4 in. (177.17 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1906 (06.311)
This marble statue is a Roman copy of a Greek bronze original made in the fourth century B.C. It depicts Eirene, the Greek personification of peace. The original bronze was set up in the Athenian agora some time between 375/374 B.C., when the cult of Eirene was introduced to Athens, and 360/359 B.C., the date of six Panathenaic amphorae that depict the statue. Pausanius saw the original bronze in the agora some 500 years later, and reported that it was by the Greek sculptor Kephisodotos.
The figure of Eirene wears a peplos, a heavy, woolen garment formed by folding a large rectangle of cloth in half and attaching it at the shoulders. A peplos of great fullness and length, such as this one, expresses abundance, dignity, and prestige. Here, the gown is belted at the waist, creating a deep kolpos that peeks out from under the apoptygma (overfold). Typically, the open edges of a peplos were either left that way so that they fell in a fluted drape, or they were sewn together as shown here.
Ancient literary references and vase paintings enable us to reconstruct the original bronze statue as Eirene holding Ploutos (personification of wealth) with a cornucopia of fruits. Hesiod describes Eirene as a daughter of Zeus and Themis, and one of the three Horai, maidens closely associated with the fertility of the earth and the nurturing of children. This particular statue recalls depictions of Demeter, the goddess of agricultural plenty and mother of Ploutos. Here, Peace nurtures Wealth, a growing child in need of her care. Allegories of this kind were common in Greece during the fourth century B.C., when Kephisodotos created the prototype for this statue.