Pediment from the archaic temple of Artemis

The pediment decorated the western facade of the temple. It is 17,02 m. long and 3,18 m. high. It is made of local porous limestone. It is attributed to a Corinthian sculptor and is dated to the first quarter of the 6th c. BC. The period of its construction coincided with important political changes in Corcyra, that is the liberation of the city in ca 585/3 BC from the hegemony of the Bacchiadae of Corinth. It is however unknown whether the pediment was made during the Corinthian tutelage or right after when the island attained its autonomy.

The centre of the sculpted composition is occupied by the winged Medusa Gorgo in a frontal position and the posture known as “running with knees high up”. She is flanked by her two children, Pegasus, the winged horse which was also the emblem of Corinth, and Chrysaor (derived from χρυσόν άορ, which means golden sword). Gorgo, the daemonic creature that turned whoever looked at her into stone, is depicted with bulged eyes, half-open mouth and her tongue hanging out. The hair surrounding her forehead is rendered with curls consisting of snakes, whereas two snakes project above her shoulders and waist. She wears winged sandals and a short chiton, tied around the waist with a belt consisting of spiral snakes. 

Τhis central composition is flanked by two seated mythical beasts, two lion-panthers. The submissive wild animals accompany
as usual the protector of wild fauna (Potnia Theron), which is no other than the goddess Artemis. Due to this correlation, some scholars consider Gorgo as the ancient or pre-Hellenic form of Artemis. 

On a smaller scale, on the edges of the pediment there are depiscted other themes. In the scene on the right Zeus is depicted throwing his lightning against a man, whereas in the scene on the left a seated figure with his hand lifted in a pleading gesture is threatened by the spear of a warrior, not extant now. According to the prevailing interpretation, these particular depictions represent scenes of the Titanomachy, i.e. the battle of the gods against their parents. It is thus believed that on the right it is depicted Zeus casting his lightning against the Titan Iapetus, whereas on the left Poseidon is attacking with his spear Cronus or Rhea seated on a throne; the building discerned in the background could be the tower of the Macares, where the leader of the Titans had retreated after the victory of the new gods.

In mythology, some place-names of Corfu and of its opposite mainland are related to the Titanomachy, such as the Thunder Mountains (Kerauneia Ore), the Cronian Sea or the ancient name of the island itself, Drepane (sickle). The provenance of the myths related to the Titanomachy or the Gigantomachy is from Euboea. It is thus probable that their geographic correlations to Corfu are due to the colonization of the island by the Euboeans. In this case, the themes depicted on the pediment could contain symbolism related to the historical origin of the Corcyreans.

Vraila 1, Τ.Κ. 49100, Corfu, Greece
τ +30 26610 30680 f +30 26610 47951
Opening hours:
From November 1st, 2019 until March 31st, 2020:
Everyday, except Tuesday, 08.30-16.00

General admission: 6€, Reduced: 3€
From November 1st, until March, 31st the reduced price of the single ticket applies independently to all visitors.

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