Inscriptions show that the Parthenon itself was started in 447,2 but in the period of his career that immediately preceded this, Pheidias had fashioned another celebrated statue of Athena, 'Athena Promachos', Athena the Champion, which greeted visitors to the Akropolis just after they had ascended the hill and entered from the western side. Inscriptions survive which show that Pheidias must have worked on it in the early 450s and, although we are informed that it was paid for from the spoils taken from the Persians at Marathon,3 no ancient source connects it directly with Perikles. It seems to me possible - but no more than that - that it was commissioned in the flush of self-confidence which the Athenians felt in the wake of the EphialticiPeriklean reforms and the new international configurations of the late 460s.4 From its material the Promachos was referred to in later antiquity as 'the bronze' Athena (the Parthenos was 'the gold' - as in the surviving fragmentary inscriptions recording outlays for it - or 'the goldand-ivory one').5 Pausanias' description of it is not very specific and although it was depicted on Athenian coins of a later period, the small scale of these representations has made reconstruction rather uncertain;6 Ridgway (1992: 130f.) pictures the goddess holding a Nike on her right hand ('if correctly identified, this would be the first Athena Nikephoros', ibid.). and thinks that its imagery (as distinct from the Parthenos) 'suggested vigilant repose: shield perhaps still strapped on the left arm, but spear upright and
helmet clearing the face' (ibid.: 130-1). The Athena Promachos became very well known, however, as an orientation-point for sailors rounding Cape Sounion and making for Athens: Pausanias says that it was at this stage in their voyage that 'the point of Athena's spear and the crest of her helmet became visible to them', which is generally taken to mean that they were able, given the correct weather conditions, to see rays of sunlight reflected off the statue's polished bronze.