You are here

Votiv und Repräsentation: Statuarische Weihungen archaischer Zeit aus Samos und Attika

Votiv und Repräsentation: Statuarische Weihungen archaischer Zeit aus Samos und Attika

By Jürgen Franssen (Archäologie und Geschichte 13). Pp. 435, figs. 37, pls. 19, CD-ROM 1. Verlag Archäologie und Geschichte, Heidelberg 2011. €66. ISBN 978-3-935289-36-8 (cloth).

Reviewed by

This massive volume represents the publication of the author’s 2003 dissertation for Heidelberg University, written under the direction of Tonio Hölscher. The copious and exhaustive footnote documentation fully incorporates scholarship published since 2003. The author aims to compare the uses of freestanding marble votive statues in Samos, Athens, and Attica during the Archaic period within their civic, political, and social contexts. Why Samos and Athens? The Archaic political histories of the two poleis encompass periods of traditional oligarchy, episodes of tyranny, and experiments with isonomic forms of governance (if Hdt. 3.142 is to be believed). Their chief civic sanctuaries, the Samian Heraion and the Athenian Acropolis, respectively, achieved levels of architectural and sculptural magnificence unequaled elsewhere. Though the comparison is amply justified, a frustrating gap remains in the documentary evidence: for example, we know the names of approximately 78 dedicators of votive statues on the archaic Acropolis (205–7), compared with only four on Samos (82–3).

Each of the book’s three sections (Samos, the Athenian Acropolis, and Attica) includes a discussion of statue types and their meaning, the findspots and dedicators of marble sculptures, and a historical synthesis. The volume is accompanied by a 106-page catalogue on CD-ROM, comprising 62 marble statues and fragments from Samos (Katalog A), 214 from the Athenian Acropolis (Katalog B), and 34 from other sites in Athens and Attica (Katalog C). Though the inclusion of material from Attica may seem questionable, it permits Franssen to compare Sounion and Eleusis with the Acropolis. In a few instances, statue bases have been included in the catalogues when they constitute the sole evidence for lost marble sculptures: these include two uninscribed bases for kouroi from Sounion (C29 and C30). Less easily explicable is the inclusion of the Leagros base from the Athenian Agora (C6), which supported a bronze statue.

The last systematic catalogue of archaic sculpture from the Samian Heraion was published by Freyer-Schauenburg in 1974 (Bildwerke der archaischen Zeit und des Strengen Stils. Samos 11 [Bonn]). Franssen performs a useful service by pulling together recent discoveries by the ongoing German excavations in the Samian Heraion, the most spectacular being the colossal Isches kouros that stood at the beginning of the Sacred Way leading from Samos town to the Heraion. Some uninscribed bases from the site await full publication, and other important questions remain unanswerable: did the four statues dedicated by Cheramyes (A5–7 and A43) form a group, or two pairs? Franssen’s analysis of the role of marble votive statues in Samos tracks closely with both the major phases of political history and temple building projects in the Heraion. He associates the earliest kouroi in the Heraion, including Isches’ kouros, with a phase of expenditure and self-assertion by the aristocratic families of Samos that came to an end with the construction of the first Hera temple in ca. 570–560 B.C.E. The next phase, extending through the end of Polykrates’ tyranny in 533, saw the diversion of money and effort to temple construction and the concomitant reduction in the size of marble kouroi and introduction of female korai, which Franssen interprets across the board as representations of marriage-eligible aristocratic parthenoi.

Franssen notes that the earliest series of marble korai on the Athenian Acropolis dates to the late seventh through the first half of the sixth century B.C.E., a period dominated by aristocratic rivalries. More questionably, he links the proliferation of korai on the Acropolis not only with the desire of aristocratic Athenians to put their marriageable daughters under Athena’s protection (310) but also with Solon’s incorporation of Athenian women into the legal system (369–71). He attributes the creation of the Greater Pan­athenaia and the construction of both sixth-century stone temples on the Acropolis (the Hekatompedon and Old Athena temple) with the Attic aristocracy rather than the tyrant Peisistratos, arguing against any diminution in the dedication of korai and other marble statues at either the Heraion or the Acropolis attributable to the periods of tyranny. Franssen considers it significant that kouroi were dedicated far away from the city of Athens itself at Sounion, where the kouros series came to an end when the first stone temple for Poseidon was built in the mid sixth century, just as korai replaced kouroi in the Samian Heraion in tandem with the construction of the first Hera temple. Archaic marble sculpture of every type came to an earlier end on Samos than it did in Athens: the Persian domination of the island after 525 B.C.E. seems to have put a stop to statue dedications in the Heraion, while fully half of the statues and inscribed bases from the Acropolis date between 510 and 480 B.C.E.

In the final analysis, Franssen’s relentless focus on aristocratic display works better for Samos and Sounion than it does for the Acropolis and Eleusis. Franssen maintains that all the archaic statue types in marble represented on the Acropolis have demonstrable aristocratic connections, an argument he extends even to the notoriously difficult Persian rider (B181) and the so-called Brettspieler group (B191). A considerable percentage of the Acropolis dedications consisted of marble and bronze figures half-life-sized or smaller, a class of material absent from the sixth-century Heraion: even if these more modest sculptures on the Acropolis do not point to any significant democratization in clientele, they certainly illustrate a difference in socially accepted forms of votive display. The importance Franssen assigns to the dedication of korai at Eleusis as a concomitant to votive practices on the Acropolis sounds convincing, but when we look at the catalogue, we discover a total of only seven statues ranging in date from ca. 580 to ca. 480 B.C.E., of which three are not certainly korai. Finally, one should note that though Franssen’s interpretation of the colossal Sounion kouroi as an alternative to temple building seems convincing, the sole dedicatory inscription associated with these impressive statues (339, cat. no. C34) leaves it unclear whether it was set up on the initiative of a single individual, a local family, or the demesmen of Sounion as a collective.

Catherine M. Keesling
Department of Classics
Georgetown University
Washington, D.C. 20057

Book Review of Votiv und Repräsentation: Statuarische Weihungen archaischer Zeit aus Samos und Attika, by Jürgen Franssen

Reviewed by Catherine M. Keesling

American Journal of Archaeology Vol. 117, No. 1 (January 2013)

Published online at

DOI: 10.3764/ajaonline1171.Keesling

Add new comment

Plain text

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.