Parthenon Essay, Research Paper
The Parthenon is known as the masterpiece of Greek architecture. The Parthenon is the most important and characteristic monument of the ancient Greek civilization and still remains its international symbol. The name of the temple comes from the Greek word parthenos, or virgin; that is, the goddess Athena. It was dedicated to Athena, the patron goddess of Athens. The temple stands on a hill called the “Acropolis” which overlooks the city. The Parthenon was the first building to be constructed on the Acropolis. At that time there were no buildings in Athens because of the war between Athens and Persia. Consequently, they wanted to rebuild his city. Many thought that the first building to be built must be a temple to Athena, their patron goddess. It was she who saw them through that war. The temple was built between 447 and 438 B.C. Pericles initiated the construction of the monument; the supervisor of the whole work was Phidias, the famous Athenian sculptor, while Ictinus and Callicrates were the architects of the building.
The Parthenon combines an element of the Doric and Ionic orders. It is surrounded by forty-six Doric columns standing at thirty-four feet high.
The design used for these columns was a technique called fluting. Each column has exactly 20 grooves.
The central part of the temple, called the cella, sheltered the famous cult statue of Athena, made by Phidias. The larger of the two interior rooms, the naos, housed the cult statue. The Metopes (statues) on the Parthenon are about 1.20 meters high and the width is between 0.15 to 0.80 meters. The metopes of the Parthenon all represented various instances of the struggle between the forces of order and justice, on the one hand, and criminal chaos on the other. Shown on the west side are twelve metopes of the mythical battle against the Amazons (Amazonomachy). Shown on the south, thirty-four metopes of the battle between the Lapiths and the Centaurs (Centauromachy). The two pediments of the temple are decorated with mythological scenes. Those at the west end of the temple depicted the contest between Poseidon and Athena for the right to be the patron deity of Athens (Athena’s gift of the olive tree was preferred over Poseidon’s spring).
The most innovative part of the Parthenon’s sculptural decoration, is the frieze on the exterior wall of the naos. The frieze depicts neither gods nor ancient heroes, but the Athenians themselves. The frieze also depicts men on horseback, other men leading the sacrificial animals, as well as women carrying other offerings. No Greek temple ever before had employed sculpture depicting mere mortals.
The entire building was basically designed as the shelter for the cult statue of Athena. The statue was made of a wooden core covered with panels of ivory and gold. The statue of Athena Parthenos was over twelve meters tall. She stood fully armed: wearing a helmet, holding a spear with her shield in her left hand, and carrying a personification of victory in her right. She stands ever ready as the city’s protectress.
Today the Parthenon stands in ruins from the Persian war. This masterpiece has lasted over 2,500 years because of its fine marble construction. The Parthenon would be in better condition today had in not been damaged in a battle in 1687. The Parthenon had stood for more than 2,000 years as one of the world’s most beautiful buildings. In one instant, one cannonball scarred the historical treasure forever.