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Athenian Political Art from the Fifth and Fourth Centuries BCE: Images of Political Personifications 

Amy C. Smith, edition of January 18 2003

page 11 of 26

· Eirene (Peace) ·


Read about the evidence
Hesiod (Hes. Th.).
Bacchylides (Bacchyl. 14).
Pindar (Pind. O. 9).
Pindar (Pind. O. 13).
Plot on a Map

Discussion: Hesiod regarded Eirene, Eunomia (Good Order), and Dike (Justice) as the Horai (Seasons), daughters of Themis (Law) (Hes. Th. 901-902). Fifth century poets followed this genealogy (e.g., Bacchyl. 14.59 and Pind. O. 9.22-24, 13.6-8). In Persai, delivered at Athens after 408, Timotheos of Miletos prays for Apollo to send Eirene and Eunomia to relieve the populace (of Athens?) (Timoth. Pers. fr. 791.240 Page, PMG). Eirene presumably represented the harvest season, and it is thus no surprise that she appears with her Aristophanic companion, Opora (Harvest, Autumn) (see AristophanesPeace), exclusively in the circle of Dionysos on Attic vases from the last third of the fifth century. Eirene also appears on a fragmentary altar at Brauron, dating to the early fourth century, on which she joins several other figures, including Eunomia (or Theoria), in a Dionysiac procession [3]. Otherwise Eirene’s role as one of the Seasons is virtually ignored. Erika Simon has tentatively identified the seated woman surrounded by three dancing women, on the East frieze of the Temple of Athena Nike on the Acropolis (after 421), as Themis with the HoraiDike, Eirene, and Eunomia (see LIMC, 3, 703-704 s.v. “Eirene” no. 9). The figures are so fragmentary, however, that it is impossible to identify them with any certainty. The absence of comparable representations of this particular grouping of the Horai in Classical art makes this identification even more tenuous.

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Plutarch (Plut. Cim.).
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It comes as no surprise that the personification of Eirene temporarily disappears from extant sources after 400: the agreements made at the end of the Peloponnesian War neither brought a lasting peace to the Greeks nor immediate hope for peace. When she returns, in the form of a Kephisodotos’ statue of Eirene and Ploutos (Peace and Wealth) [4], Eirene is still a fertility deity, but no longer a maenad; she is rather presented as the mature mother or nurse of (agricultural) wealth. The evidence for Eirene’s worship at Athens before the fourth century is limited to Plutarch’s attestation of an altar dedicated to her after the Battle of the Eurymedon (467) (Plut. Cim. 13.6). As Alan Shapiro suggests, it is likely that Plutarch confused the Battle of the Eurymedon with Timotheos’ peace of 375/4, when both the altar and Kephisodotos’ statue would have been put up to commemorate a peace treaty with Sparta (Shapiro 1993, 45).


Read about the evidence
Pausanias (Paus.).
Pausanias (Paus.).
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  1. Vienna IV 1024: a calyx krater attributed to the Dinos Painter, ca. 420-410, with representations of Eirene, labelled ΕΙΡΗΝΗ and Opora.
  2. A pelike, once in Paris (Raoul-Rochette Collection), attributed to the Group of Naples 3235, ca. 410-400, with representations of Eirene, labelled ΙΡΗΝΗ and Pannychis (All-night Revel) (ARV2, 1316.3; LIMC, 7, 171-72 s.v. “Pannychia,” “Pannychis” no. 4).
  3. Brauron 1170: a fragmentary round altar or statue base, ca. 400, with representations of Eirene, labelled ΕΙΡΗΝΗ and perhaps Eunomia or Theoria (Festival), and Opora (Harvest, Autumn), probably in a Dionysiac procession (images of the altar and a detail of Eirene).
  4. Eirene and Ploutos type: a free-standing statue (lost, but known from several painted copies and sculpted copies, such as that in Munich, detail and full figure shown above), erected between the Tholos and the Temple of Ares, in the Agora, Athens, between 374 and 371, of Eirene holding the baby Ploutos, by Kephisodotos of Athens (Paus. 1.8.3; see also Paus. 9.16.2).
  5. Statue of Eirene (now lost) in the Prytaneion, in the Agora of Athens (Paus. 1.18.3).

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