Eirene, or Irene (pron.: //; Ancient Greek: Εἰρήνη [eːrɛ́ːnɛː]; Greek for "peace"; the Roman equivalent was Pax), one of the Horae, was the personification of peace, and was depicted in art as a beautiful young woman carrying a cornucopia, sceptre and a torch or rhyton. She is said sometimes to be the daughter of Zeus and Themis.
She was particularly well regarded by the citizens of Athens. After a naval victory over Sparta in 375 BC, the Athenians established a cult for Eirene, erecting altars to her. They held an annual state sacrifice to her after 371 BC to commemorate the Common Peace of that year and set up a votive statue in her honour in the Agora of Athens. The statue was executed in bronze by Cephisodotus the Elder, likely the father or uncle of the famous sculptor Praxiteles. It was acclaimed by the Athenians, who depicted it on vases and coins.
Although the statue is now lost, it was copied in marble by the Romans; one of the best surviving copies (right) is in the Munich Glyptothek. It depicts the goddess carrying a child with her left arm – Ploutos, the god of plenty and son of Demeter, the goddess of agriculture. Eirene's missing right hand once held a sceptre. She is shown gazing maternally at Ploutos, who is looking back at her trustingly. The statue is an allegory for Plenty (Ploutos) prospering under the protection of Peace (Eirene); it constituted a public appeal to good sense. The copy in the Glyptothek was originally in the collection of the Villa Albani in Rome but was looted and taken to France by Napoleon I. Following Napoleon's fall, the statue was bought by Ludwig I of Bavaria.
- "Praxiteles' father's name is not recorded, "but, given Greek practice of handing down names and crafts in the family, it is likely that if not Praxiteles' father, he was a relation" (Martin Robertson, A Shorter History of Greek Art [Cambridge University Press) 1981, p. 138).
- Wünsche, Raimund (2007). Glyptothek, Munich: masterpieces of Greek and Roman sculpture. C.H.Beck. p. 79. ISBN 978-3-406-56508-3.
- Robinson, Edward (1892). Catalogue of Casts Part III Greek and Roman Sculpture. Houghton, Mifflin & Co. p. 222.
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