Olympic Vagaries

The Myth of Athena, Marsyas, and Apollo

22 May to 21 September 2008

The marble statue of Athena by the sculptor Myron is one of the most important masterpieces of the art of antiquity and one of the most famous works in the Liebieghaus’s collection of antiquities. This statue of the goddess was already famous in its day and, with a Silenus Marsyas, originally formed part of a group on the Acropolis in Athens.

Taking Myron’s group of statues as its point of departure, the exhibition Olympic Vagaries gave an account of the myth of Athena, Apollo, and Marsyas. Ancient sculptures, vases, and paintings of the minor arts presented the fate of the talented Silenus Marsyas, who became the bloody victim of the envy and cruelty of the radiant Greek god Apollo.

Athena, who is at first proud of her invention of the flute, discovers in the mirror that playing it mars her beauty. Marsyas, who discovers the instrument the goddess has tossed away, becomes a masterly performer of it, which enrages the gods. A musical competition between Marsyas and Apollo is arranged. The victorious god has the loser flayed alive.

Curator Prof. Dr. Vinzenz Brinkmann (Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung)