Greek Marble Statue of Aidos, goddess of Modesty
Greek · Hellenistic, 3rd – 2nd century B.C.
H: 157 cm
In Greek mythology, Aidos, daughter of Prometheus, was the goddess of modesty, also personifying respect, reverence, and humility – the qualities that restrain men from wrongdoing. There were altars dedicated to her, and in Description of Greece (3.20.10–11), Pausanias mentions an image of Aidos at Sparta in Lace-daemon and tells the story that the image was dedicated by Icarius in memory of his daughter, Penelope, leaving the father to join her new husband, Odysseus. In a difficult and heartbreaking moment, when the loving father, following the chariot, begged her to stay, the husband “bade Penelope to accompany him willingly, or else, if she preferred her father, to go back to him, she made no reply, but covered her face with a veil…”
Following a Classical sculptural tradition, the goddess is richly draped in a chiton, a long tunic, and a himation, or mantle, “wrapped in white robes,” as described by Hesiod (Works and Days, 170 ff). The mantle wraps her body in voluminous folds of cloth as it hangs down and envelops the chiton beneath. The figure’s un-draped right arm extends across her body, and her gracefully positioned hand holds the drapery of the himation in place. With her raised left arm and hand, she would have held the mantle’s edge covering her head as a veil. The woman stands upon a base with her weight placed on her left leg; she wears sandals, and both of her feet are visible from beneath the folds of the chiton that drapes over them.
The style and quality of this gorgeous marble sculpture recall the statue of the goddess of justice, Themis, the daughter of Uranus and Gaia, which stands in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens (Accession number 231). Marble statues of this size were typically reserved for the divine. However, this statue could also belong to a particular and important type of Late Hellenistic sculpture representing veiled female figures, which had a wide range across the Mediterranean region in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The intended pose of the sculpture, with one arm and hand across the body and the other lifted up toward the veil, is the so-called pudicitia (Latin, modesty) pose that may have been intended to convey modesty and virtue of the portrayed person. The sculpture may also depict a mortal woman and could have functioned as a religious or civic dedication since honorific statues of women could be placed in sanctuaries or secular settings.
No modern restorations; the head and most parts of the left arm with hand are now lost; surface weathered; large chips in places; a piece of the fold below the right hand is reattached; abrasions, fractures in places; a deep vertical fracture on the upper back.
Art market, prior to 2000;
Ex- European private collection, Germany, prior to 2000;
Gorny and Mosch, Auction 105, Munich, 10 October 2000, lot 2078.
Gorny and Mosch, Auction 105, Munich, 10 October 2000, lot 2078;
Phoenix Ancient Art 2020/39, Geneva, New York, 2020, no. 19
The International Fine Art & Antique Dealers Show, New York, October 2012
For comparable Late Classical and Hellenistic sculptures of draped women: N. Kaltsas, Sculpture in the National Archaeological Museum (Los Angeles 2002), 207, no. 420, Pentelic marble, ca. last quarter of the 4th century B.C., height 1.55 meters, is particularly close to this sculpture; for the pudicitia pose, 158, no. 310, 168, no. 332, 185, no. 364. Also see R. Smith, Hellenistic Sculpture (New York 1991), 83-86, figs. 112-13; J. Boardman, Greek Sculpture: The Late Classical Period (New York 1995), 114-16; for the pudicitia pose, no. 119, the gravestone of Demetria and Pamphile, Athens, Keremeikos, ca. 320 B.C.