The Ashmolean is the University of Oxford’s museum of art and archaeology, founded in 1683. Our world famous collections range from Egyptian mummies to contemporary art, telling human stories across cultures and across time.
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The scene depicted is the Theft of the Palladion during the Trojan War. A prophesy had revealed that the Greeks could only capture Troy if the cult statue of Athena (known as the Palladion) was in their procession. The hero Diomedes is shown on the right clutching the Palladion but in order to claim it he has killed the temple guard, whose feet are just visible on the ground. The bearded hero Odysseus gestures in horror at this act of sacrilege. The gods were so angered that many Greek warriors were killed before or on their return journey home to Greece.