Greek culture blossomed after the Persian Wars. General Pericles around the 450’s BC led the reconstruction of Athens; which became the most beautiful city in all of Greece. Pericle’s greatest structure built under his command was the Parthenon.
The Parthenon was a temple built for the patron goddess Athena (goddess of wisdom and art). Construction started 447 BC and continued until 432 BC. The structure is located in Athens Greece, on the acropolis.
The architects Ictinus and Callicrates designed the building. The Athenians wanted to achieve the appearance of perfection on the Parthenon. They did this by widening the columns at the center, making them appear strait when viewed from a distance; the steps leading to the Parthenon were lowered in the center giving the impression that they were strait from either side(Farah,116). Phidias was the artist that sculpted the art for the Parthenon. He himself did not sculpt everything but advised the other sculptors.
The temple was 102 by 226 feet, rising 60 feet of the ground. It included two rooms, the ?naos? the larger of the two is where a 42 foot tall sculpture of Athenia was located. The smaller room ?opisthodomos? was used as a treasury(Web). Pattern of 8 by 17 Doric fluted columns surround the structure.
(Parthenon floor plan)
The Parthenon is a Doric peripteral temple, which means that it consists of a rectangular floor plan with a series of low steps on all sides. Pentelic marble was used as the building material, which came from Mount Pentelicus 11 miles from Athens. The pentelic marble had shots of iron. This gave it a luminescent look when viewed on sunny a day. Lintels, horizontal supporting beams that span between columns were tied by bow-tie shaped iron clamps to secure them.
Sculptures once decorated the pediments of the building. The eastern pediment depicted the birth of Athena and western pediment showed the battle between Athena and the sea god Poseidon for the control of Athens(Scully,65/Web). In 1687 the pediment sculptures were smashed. This was done by Venetian Admiral Morosini. Morosini was trying to lower the pediment sculptures(Scully,90).
The metopes of the Parthenon all represent the struggle between order and chaos. The east metope depicts battle between the gods and giants(Wed). The west metope reveals the mystical battle against the Amazons(Web). The south metope, the battle between the lapiths and the centaurs(Web). Last on the north metope, Greeks versus Trojans(Wed). In addition there was a decorated band called a frieze that went all the way around the cella (central enclosed space). The frieze showed people of Athens: officials, priests, maidens, and young men on horse back celebrating Athena’s birthday(Web).
The statue of Athena in the naos was 42 feet tall and was constructed of gold and ivory. The flesh was ivory and the drapery gold (the drapery was made removable incase of emergencies).
The Parthenon was used as a Christian church at about 500 AD. The Parthenon was also used as a mosque when Turkish Muslim forces captured the city in the mid-1400s. The battered structure and columns of the Parthenon are from the explosion of gunpowder. The Turks stored the gunpowder there, and in 1687 a Venetian cannon shattered the building.
The Parthenon was a beautiful structure when completed. It is probably one of the best examples of classical architecture. Most of the remaining art was removed and placed in the Acropolis Museum in Athens and the British Museum in London(Web). Now, what is left of the Parthenon sits in ruins for the tourist and citizens to be admired; the great accomplishments and sorrows of man’s past.