If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:4:18

Victory (Nike) Adjusting Her Sandal, Temple of Athena Nike (Acropolis)

Video transcript

when you walk up the sacred way to the Acropolis right before you go through the gatehouse the propylaea you see a small beautiful ionic temple the temple to athena nike and inside as is typical of Greek temples was a sculpture of the goddess of Athena Nike that is an Athena associated with victory in battle Nike means victory this is a very constrained space and at some point people were worried about falling off and so they added a railing at parapet and it was carved with a series of small figures in fact the parapet itself is no more than about four feet tall and so a parapet is a kind of railing and a space where you could walk but these didn't face the people on the inside this faced the walkway up what we see carved and fairly high relief are a series of Nikes that is winged figures of victory the most famous one is the Nike adjusting her sandal I've never been clear whether she's taking her sandal off or putting her sandal on I think she's taking it off I think she's undoing the knot and the sandal will slip off and that's because she'll be walking on sacred ground so we have a figure that's by definition off balance she's lifting one foot up to undo the tie on her sandal she's got her other leg bent she leans forward but her left arm comes up to help her balance and you can see the wing just behind her left arm actually there's two wings if you look and it's a good thing she's got them because presumably it's those wings that are helping her maintain her balance yeah it's so interesting because in the high Classical period we see a great deal of attention paid to making figures seem relaxed and even and balanced and yet here we have somebody as you said that is inherently awkward so if you think for example back to the difference the quintessential classical sculpture there is a sense of one side of the body balancing the other in contrapposto and you're right here we have an intentional interest in a form that's out of balance now this baits to about 410 and so we're on the other side of the century and we can see that the artist is taking the classical handling of the relationship between the body and the drapery and accentuated it and by the classical treatment of the drapery you're referring to the style of phidias whose work we see in the sculptures of the Parthenon where we have drapery that wings to the forms of the body and creates very intricate fold but not quite this revealing this is among the most erotic works of art that we find on the Acropolis in the figures in the Parthenon for example the pediment sculptures we see the drapery following the forms of the body and cascading around it you can see that especially in the so-called three goddesses exactly but here there's a sense of that drapery being transparent where we can really see the nude body underneath well look at the way her left thigh is exposed her breasts are exposed her abdomen is so transparent to us but then look at the way that the folds gather on her arm just beautifully and actually you can see that the artist has created little Peaks that drape were giving us a sense of the weight of the cloth her right shoulder is nude but her left shoulder is closed we have access to the body in either case and then we see what our historians call chain folds as though you imagine holding up up chain the way that it drapes and falls down with the pull of gravity drawing attention with the shadows there to the space between her legs there's clear eroticism here the nike adjusting or sandal is only one of many panels along the parapet in another panel we see two Nikes or nikai coaxing an animal to sacrifice and in other panels we see nike figures who are offering trophies to a military victory so all of this within the context of the Acropolis within the context of the Parthenon the importance of military victories and not long after not only the victory of the Persians but also the very destructive war with Sparta the Peloponnesian War right in spite of being Athens longtime nemesis you
AP® is a registered trademark of the College Board, which has not reviewed this resource.