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Relief of a Falling Warrior

A work made of marble.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of marble.


2nd century



About this artwork

Around 435 BCE, the Greek sculptor Pheidias adorned the front of the shield at the side of his gold-and-ivory statue of Athena in the Parthenon with scenes of Greeks battling Amazons in the Trojan War. In Roman times, certain figures from this complex struggle were lifted out of their original context and enlarged to become decorative reliefs for the walls of a colonnade or courtyard.

Here a wounded Greek warrior collapses to the ground after being struck a mortal blow from behind. The dying warrior’s noble countenance, the fillet or ribbon tied around his forehead, and his powerful, athletic body epitomize what Pheidias and his pupils sought to project as the ideal of mature male dignity in the decade when Athens was at the height of its power in the eastern Mediterranean world. Some five centuries later, collectors such as the Roman emperor Hadrian sought this Pheidian style, translated from a circular golden shield to a rectangular marble relief, to decorate their palaces and villas. Athenian sculptors of the Roman era made a good living creating and exporting such memories of past glories. This relief and a number of others were found near Athens in the harbor of Piraeus, where they had been lost in a disaster, likely while awaiting shipment.


On View, Gallery 151


Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium


Ancient Roman


Relief of a Falling Warrior


Piraeus (Object found in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

101 CE–200 CE




53.3 × 81 × 17.5 cm (21 × 31 15/16 × 6 7/8 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Alfred E. Hamill

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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