After Rosso Fiorentino's drawing. The engraving is probably republished by Carlo Losi 1771
Engraving. 213 x 110 mm
Inventory number: E1884
Athene, or Pallas Athene, is recognised by her helmet, her spear and a shield decorated with the head of Medusa. She is one of the principal deities in Greek mythology. And to a great extent she can be compared to the Roman goddess Minerva. The weapons indicate that Athene was early seen as a goddess of war. But in contrast to the god of war, Mars, who represents destructive warfare, Athene fought for justice. She had once received Medusa’s head from Perseus after helping him to slay Medusa, the monster with snakes for hair. One of the most fantastic statues ever made of Athene was presumably the one in gold and ivory of colossal size made by Phidias (c. 490-430 BC), which stood in the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens. As the similarity in names suggests, Athene was the protectress of the city of Athens.
Like the Roman goddess Minerva, Athene was, in addition to being the goddess of war, the protectress of places of learning and art. And it is mainly as such that she appears in Thorvaldsen’s work. She has the owl as her companion in this role, and it is also her symbol.