When deciding on what to write about, I did not have to think very long. I have been to the Parthenon – not the Parthenon in Athens, but the Parthenon replica in Nashville, Tennessee. This is a full size replica of what the real Parthenon is like. Although it is not the actual building it has all of the grandiose that I can imagine the original has atop the Acropolis. I was able to walk through this replica and standing in the middle of the building was a huge Athena figure covered in gold. The outside of the building is lined with the columns such as the original had when it was standing tall.Order now
The prominence that the replica had I could only imagine the greatness that the original held, this led me to this research paper about the Parthenon its architecture and historical meaning. The Great Phidias was one of the men behind the idea and design of the Parthenon. Phidias was known not only as a Greek sculptor but a painter and architect as well. He was also the sculptor of the giant Athena figure that was house within the Parthenon as well as one of the Seven Wonders of the World which is the statue of Zeus he had also done.
Having this man be a part of the building of the Parthenon just goes to show how the Parthenon was bound for greatness. Another man that is credited for taking part in the architectural side of the building of the Parthenon was Ictinus. Ictinus was an architect who was not only known for the Parthenon but the Temple of Apollo at Bassae. This is also may have been one of the reasons for the Doric style of architecture which is seen in most of his works. Then there was a man named Callicrates who was another of the architects that were in charge of the Parthenon build.
Callicrates was also known for the design of the Temple of Athena Nike which was located on the Athenian Acropolis. The Parthenon is an iconic piece of architecture in the Greek culture. The fact that the ancient Greeks were able to create such an iconic piece of work in a time where there were no modern technologies i. e. cranes, dozers, etc. The focus is to dig deeper into the reasons for the Parthenon and why the Greeks felt the need to build such a thing, why that location, and what purpose the building had served for the Greeks.
Looking into these questions the reader will be able to better understand what the true purpose and shear greatness that the Parthenon stood for in the eyes of the ancient Greeks. The Parthenon was first constructed atop the Acropolis6 in 447 BC where the base had spanned 69. 5 meters by 30. 9 meters. The Parthenon was constructed in order to house the Greek goddess of Athena. Athena was born from the head of Zeus. Athena was considered an Olympia goddess of war, reason, intelligence, also arts and literature. The statue of Athena was made of gold and ivory along with polychrome9 details within the figure.
There was a large rectangular area that was at the feet of Athena which was filled with water creating a refection pool within the structure. The Athena structure was not the only magnificent piece of work when discussing the Parthenon, which brings us to the next feat which is the Architecture and construction of the Parthenon. The Parthenon that sits atop the acropolis was constructed of 17 columns that ran along the sides of the building and as can be seen in many different pictures of the Parthenon there were eight of these columns at each end.
The columns that were used around the Parthenon were known as a Doric style of column. Doric columns were stouter than the Ionic and Corinthian styles of columns that existed during this time. The significance of the columns goes past just being a grand piece of architecture. The columns would vary from one another which would allow for the optical illusion that from a distance the columns looked distorted. This illusion is actually quite incredible and even when looking Within the Parthenon there were many different styles of sculptures.
First there was Athena which was discussed previously and what are known as Ionic frieze, pediments, and Doric metopes. The Ionic friezes go around the outside wall of the Parthenon and measures approximately one meter high and 160 meters long14. The images depicted on this frieze are the people of Athens which shows the Panathenaic procession which was a major celebration in ancient Greece especially in Athens during this time period. The Pediments of the Parthenon are categorized into east and west sections.
The west Pediment had faced the Propylaia and was showing the two Gods Athena and Poseidon during the period in which they were competing one another for honor and becoming the city’s supporter. The Doric metopes spread all the way around the building in which each side had told their own story15. On the West side the metopes were showing Greeks versus the Orientals, on the north showed the Greeks versus the Trojans16. The east side had represented the Gods versus the Giants and finally the south side had been a representation of Centaurs versus Lapiths.
When the Parthenon was first built there were a total of 92 metopes and that was divided into having 32 on each of the sides and 14 on the front and back side as well. The friezes measured 325 feet long and approximately three foot in height. The statue of Athena had stood approximately 33 feet high and was made of ivory and gold. She was placed near the back of what is referred to as the central chamber of the Parthenon. Athena’s figure had been wearing a helmet and in one hand she had held a winged statue of victory and the other hand was placed on a shield.
The opportunity arose to build the Parthenon after the Persians in 479 BC had destroyed the buildings that had previously sat atop the acropolis19. Once this war was over the leader of Athens Pericles had wanted to improve upon what had been previously in place hence the construction of the Parthenon began in 447 BC and the great statue of Athena was placed within the Parthenon in 438 BC20. The Parthenon was not always a place where the Greek goddess Athena was worshiped, in fact around 426 AD it was used as a Christian church.
At this time the Parthenon had not been dedicated to Athena but instead to Hagia Sophia. This pattern had taken place throughout time when they switched dedication once again around the 600 AD. When going through these different dedications they had made some additions to the Parthenon including a church bell which was placed in the Parthenon along with an altar. The magnificent Parthenon had gone through many changes and the biggest was when a Venetian army had attacked Athens and the damage that the Parthenon had undergone was too much to repair and that is where it still sits and undergoes the wrath of time.
The Parthenon has been around for centuries and will more than likely not be around for many more. There is only so much that can be done to preserve this magnificent building. The work that has gone into the Parthenon is amazing in itself without the fact that it was done during the fifth century BC. This is a beloved national icon within the Greek state. This being one of the most popular historical structures in the world it would be a huge loss for the world if it were to disappear.
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Neils, Jennifer. Cambridge University. The Parthenon: From Antiquity to the Present
Neils, Jennifer. Cambridge University. The Parthenon Frieze
Mark, Ira S. The Sanctuary od Athena Nike In Athens, Architectural Stages and Chronology
Parthenon. The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2014. Encyclopedia.com. (October 8, 2014). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-Parthnon.html
Sir Banister Fletcher. A History of Architecture. London: The Butterworth Group, 1987.
Thompson, Homer A. Studies in Athenian Architecture Sculpture and Topography