The South Metopes of the Parthenon, dated to the 5th Century BC, are marble relief sculptures that exemplify Classical Greek sculptural techniques. Comprising 12 surviving panels from an original count of 92, each panel measures 1.2m x 1.25m and has been integral to the outer structure of the Parthenon.

These panels depict the mythical battle, termed as Centauromachy, between the Centaurs - mythological creatures with human torsos and horse bodies - and the Lapiths, a tribe from Greek antiquity. This depicted conflict is frequently interpreted as a symbolic presentation of the clash between culture and savagery, reflecting the Classical Greek view of societal balance.

Each panel of the surviving metopes represents varying phases of the battle: onset, conflict, casualties, and ultimate victory. This sequential depiction provides an element of dynamism to the still panels. Detailed sculpting, inclusive of figurative groups, compound poses, and emotive expressions, depicts the carnage and chaos characteristic of warfare.

The crafting of the reliefs displays an adherence to the proportional and naturalistic tendencies of High Classical style. The expert treatment of marble through chiseled detailing and round carvings indicates a high level of skill and experience. Traces of pigment found on the metopes suggest that they were originally painted, in line with Classical norms.

Beyond the aesthetic appeal, the South Metopes held religious and sociopolitical importance for the people of Classical Athens. Situated high on the temple's entablature, the reliefs were both a deterrent to sacrilege and visible reminders of civic and cultural values to the public at large, hence testifying to art's crucial role in promoting community pride and ideological perspectives.

Acropolis Museum
Parthenon, Acropolis, Athens, Greece