Ceremonial Chair (The Elgin Throne)
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Greek, 400 - 300 B.C.
32 1/16 x 27 9/16 in.

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A rare surviving example of Greek marble furniture, the Elgin Throne originally was placed in a public space in Athens, perhaps in the Theater of Dionysos, where it would have been a seat of honor. The decoration on the sides of the chair appears connected with this official function.

The two complementary figural scenes depict tales of Athens' liberation, one historical and one mythological. In 514 B.C., Harmodios and Aristogeiton, during a failed attempt to assassinate the tyrant Hippias, killed Hippias' brother Hipparchos, thus initiating the development of democracy in Athens. The image of the tyrannicides or tyrant slayers on the throne reproduces a famous statue of the pair that once stood in the Athenian Agora and is now known from Roman copies. The other scene on the throne most likely depicts the Athenian hero Theseus battling an Amazon during a legendary invasion of the city. Amazons were often shown in Greek art, as on the Parthenon, to represent barbarian invasions of civilized Greek territories.

A partial inscription running along the upper edge of the back of the throne names Boethos, perhaps the dedicator of the throne. The throne was once in the collection of Lord Elgin, a noted collector of antiquities.

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