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The Parthenon is a resplendent marble temple built between 447 and 432 B.C. Dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, the Parthenon sits high atop a compound of temples known as the Acropolis of Athens. Throughout the centuries, the Parthenon withstood earthquakes, fire, wars, explosions and looting yet remains, although battered, a powerful symbol of Ancient Greece and Athenian culture.

Importance of the Parthenon

The Parthenon was the center of religious life in the powerful Greek City-State of Athens, the head of the Delian League. Built in the 5 century B.C., it was a symbol of the power, wealth and elevated culture of Athens. It was the largest and most lavish temple the Greek mainland had ever seen. Today, it is one of the most recognized buildings in the world and an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece.

Who Built the Parthenon?

The celebrated Greek statesman Pericles is credited with ordering the design and construction of the Parthenon as a temple for Athena—the goddess of wisdom, arts and literature and war—but it may not have been the first attempt to house the deity.

An earlier structure known as the Older Parthenon or Pre-Parthenon once existed on the site of the current Parthenon. Many historians believe the Older Parthenon was under construction in 480 B.C. when the Persian Empire attacked Athens and destroyed the Acropolis, although some experts dispute this theory.

When Was the Parthenon Built?

In 447 B.C., some 33 years after the Persian invasion, Pericles commenced building the Parthenon to replace the earlier temple. The massive structure was dedicated in 438 B.C.

Sculpting and decorative work at the Parthenon continued until 432 B.C. It’s estimated that 13,400 stones were used to build the temple, at a total cost of around 470 silver talents (roughly $7 million U.S. dollars today).

READ MORE: How the Ancient Greeks Designed the Parthenon to Impress— And Last

Doric Columns

Pericles commissioned the renowned Greek architects Ictinus and Callicrates and the sculptor Phidias to design the Parthenon, which became the largest Doric-style temple of its time.

The structure has a rectangular floor plan and is built on a 23,000-square foot base, part of which was the limestone foundation of the Old Parthenon.

Low steps surrounded each side of the building, and a portico of Doric columns standing on a platform create a border around it. There are 46 outer columns and 19 inner columns.

The columns are slightly tapered to give the temple a symmetrical appearance. The corner columns are larger in diameter than the other columns. Incredibly, the Parthenon contains no straight lines and no right angles, a true feat of Greek architecture.


Ninety-two carved metopes (square blocks placed between three-channeled triglyph blocks) adorn the exterior walls of the Parthenon. The metopes on the West side depict Amazonomachy, a mythical battle between the Amazons and the Ancient Greeks, and were thought to be designed by the sculptor Kalamis.

The metopes on the East side show Gigantomachy, mythical battles between gods and Giants. Most metopes on the South side show Centauromachy, the battle of mythical centaurs with the Lapiths, and the metopes on the North side portray the Trojan War.

Parthenon Frieze

A broad, decorated horizontal band called a frieze runs along the entire length of the walls of the Parthenon’s inner chamber (the cella). The frieze was carved using the bas-relief technique, which means the sculpted figures are raised slightly from the background.

Historians believe the frieze depicted either the Panathenaic procession to the Acropolis or the sacrifice of Pandora to Athena.

There are two sculpted, triangular-shaped gables known as pediments on each end of the Parthenon. The East pediment depicted Athena’s birth from the head of her father, Zeus. The West pediment showed the conflict between Athena and Poseidon to claim Attica, an ancient region of Greece which included the city of Athens.

Athena Parthenos

A shrine within the Parthenon housed an extraordinary statue of Athena, known as Athena Parthenos, which was sculpted by Phidias. The statue no longer exists but is thought to have stood 12 meters high (39 feet).

It was carved of wood and covered in ivory and gold. Historians know what the statue looked like thanks to surviving Roman reproductions.

The Athena statue depicted a fully-armed woman wearing a goatskin shield known as an aegis. She held a six-foot tall statue of the Greek goddess Nike in her right hand and a shield in her left hand that illustrated various battle scenes. Two griffins and a sphinx stood on her helmet and a large snake behind her shield.

It’s unclear if the Parthenon served solely as a home for Athena or also as a treasury. It was undoubtedly an awe-inspiring sight for anyone who gazed upon it. Ancient spectators weren’t allowed inside the structure but viewed its splendor from the outside.

Parthenon Changes Hands

In the sixth century A.D., the Christian Byzantines conquered Greece. They outlawed pagan worship of the Greek gods and converted the Parthenon to a Christian church. They blocked the East side entrance and, following the custom of Christianity, forced worshipers to enter the church on the West side.

The massive statue of Athena was gone before the Byzantines arrived. In her place, they put a pulpit and marble bishop’s chair.

The Parthenon remained a Christian church until 1458 A.D., when the Muslim Ottoman Empire seized Athens. The Ottoman Turks converted the Parthenon into a mosque, yet kept many Christian paintings and artifacts intact.

In 1687, facing attack from the Christian Holy League, the Ottomans converted the Parthenon into an ammunitions depot and shelter, but it was anything but safe. The structure was bombarded with cannonballs and its ammunition stores exploded causing hundreds of deaths and massive structural damage.

Elgin Marbles

After the Holy League’s assault, the Parthenon sat in ruins and was at the mercy of looters. In the early 19th century, Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin, removed the marble friezes and several other sculptures and shipped them to London, England where they remain on public display in the British Museum today.

It’s unclear if Elgin had permission to remove the sculptures, and the Greek government has requested they be returned.

Time, weathering and cleaning has caused the Elgin Marbles and other Parthenon sculptures to look white, but there’s evidence they and other parts of the structure were once painted vivid colors such as red, blue and green.

SEE MORE: Striking Photos of Classical Greek Architecture

Parthenon Restoration

After centuries of being ruled by the Turks, the Greeks fought for independence in the 1820s. The Acropolis became a combat zone and the Turkish Army removed hundreds of marble blocks from Parthenon ruins. They also used the lead-coated iron clamps which held the blocks together to make bullets.

Finally, in the 1970s, the Greek government got serious about restoring the rapidly-deteriorating Acropolis and the Parthenon, which had become one of the country’s national treasures. They appointed an archaeological committee called the Acropolis Restoration Project.

With Greek architect Manolis Korres at its helm, the committee painstakingly charted every relic in the ruins and used computer technology to identify their original location.

The restoration team plans to supplement original Parthenon artifacts with modern materials that are weather-resistant and corrosion-resistant and that help support the integrity of the structure. Where needed, new marble from the quarry where the original marble was obtained will be used.

Still, the Parthenon will not be restored to its original glory. Instead, it will stay a partial ruin and will feature design elements and artifacts that reflect its rich, diverse history.

Acropolis Museum

Renovations are ongoing at the Parthenon and the entire Acropolis; however, tourists can still visit the historical site. Areas undergoing a makeover may be off-limits.

Some important artifacts and remaining Parthenon sculptures were moved to the nearby Acropolis Museum. To see many of the Parthenon’s original marble sculptors and other Acropolis artifacts, visitors are encouraged to see the museum.


Secrets of the Parthenon. PBS NOVA.
The Glorious Parthenon. PBS NOVA.
The Parthenon. Ancient-Greece.org.
The Parthenon. Oxford Bibliographies.
The Parthenon. Reed College.
The Parthenon: Religion, Art and Politics. The State University of New York.

The Parthenon

At the approximate position where the Parthenon was built later, the Athenians began the construction of a building that was burned by the Persians while it was still under construction in 480 BCE. It was presumably dedicated to Athena, and after its destruction much of its ruins were utilized in the building of the fortifications at the north end of the Acropolis. Not much is known about this temple, and whether or not it was still under construction when it was destroyed has been disputed. Its massive foundations were made of limestone, and the columns were made of Pentelic marble, a material that was utilized for the first time. The classicalParthenon was constructed between 447-432 BCE to be the focus of the Acropolis building complex. The architects were Iktinos and Kallikrates (Vitruvius also names Karpion as an architect) and it was dedicated to the goddess Athena Pallas or Parthenos (virgin). The temple&rsquos main function was to shelter the monumental statue of Athena that was made by Pheidias out of gold and ivory. The temple and the chryselephantine statue were dedicated in 438, although work on the sculptures of its pediment continued until completion in 432 BCE.

The Parthenon construction cost the Athenian treasury 469 silver talents. While it is almost impossible to create a modern equivalent for this amount of money, it might be useful to look at some facts. One talent was the cost to build one trireme, the most advanced warship of the era. (http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Classics/CL56/CL56_LN11.html), and
&ldquo&hellipone talent was the cost for paying the crew of a warship for a month&rdquo (D. Kagan, The Peloponnesian War, 61). According to Kagan, Athens at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war had 200 triremes in service, while the annual gross income of the city of Athens at the time of Perikles was 1000 talents, with another 6000 in reserve at its treasury.

The Parthenon is a temple of the Doric order with eight columns at the façade, and seventeen columns at the flanks, conforming to the established ratio of 9:4. This ratio governed the vertical and horizontal proportions of the temple as well as many other relationships of the building like the spacing between the columns and their height.

The cella was unusually large to accommodate the oversized statue of Athena, confining the front and back porch to a much smaller than usual size. A line of six Doric columns supported the front and back porch, while a colonnade of 23 smaller Doric columns surrounded the statue in a two-storied arrangement. The placement of columns behind the statue was an unusual development since in previous Doric temples they only appeared on the flanks, but the greater width and length of the Parthenon allowed for a dramatic backdrop of double decked columns instead of a wall.

The back room sheltered Athena&rsquos treasure and four columns of the Ionic order supported its roof. The introduction of elements of the Ionic order in a predominately Doric temple was more dramatic in the development of a continuous freeze on the exterior wall of the cella. While the integration of Doric and Ionic elements on the same temple was not a new development in Greek architecture, it was rare, and bestowed on the Parthenon a delicate balance between austere and delicate visual characteristics.

All temples in Greece were designed to be seen only from the outside. The viewers never entered a temple and could only glimpse the interior statues through the open doors. The Parthenon was conceived in a way that the aesthetic elements allow for a smooth transition between the exterior and the interior that housed the chryselephantine statue of Athena. A visitor to the Acropolis who entered from the Propylaia would be confronted by the majestic proportion of the Parthenon in three quarters view, with full view of the west pediment and the north colonnade. As the viewer moved closer, the details of the sculpted metopes would become decipherable, and when in proximity to the base of the columns, parts of the frieze would become evident in tantalizing colorful glimpses peering from the spaces between the columns.

Moving towards the east and looking up towards the exterior of the cella, a visitor would be mesmerized with the masterful depiction of the Panathenaic procession as it appeared in cinematic fashion on the frieze which was visually interrupted by the Doric columns of the exterior. This was certainly a scene that every Athenian could relate to through personal experience, making thus the transition between earth and the divine a smooth one. A visitor moving east would eventually turn the corner to face the entrance of the Parthenon, and there he would be confronted with the birth of Athena high above on the east pediment, and just beyond it, the arrephores folding the peplos among the Olympian gods and the heroes of the frieze. Then, just below, the &ldquopeplos&rdquo scene, through the immense open doors, any visitor would be enchanted by the glistening gold and ivory hues of the monumental statue of Athena standing at the back of the dim cella. The statue of Athena Pallas reflected its immense stature on the tranquil surface of the water-pool floor, and was framed by yet more Doric columns, this time smaller, in a double-decked arrangement that made the interior space seem as if it were even larger and taller than the exterior.

It seems certain that the master planners of the Parthenon conceived it as a theatrical event. The temple was constructed with the movements of the viewer in mind, and by the arrangement of the temple, the monumental sculptures of the pediment, and the detailed frieze, the emotions of the visitors were choreographed to prepare them for the ultimate glimpse of the majestic Athena Parthenos at the interior of the naos, and to maximize the effect of an awe inspiring visit.

1941 – The Parthenon Was Occupied During The Second World War

The dramatic history of the Parthenon spans even more recently into the Second World War. On the 27th of April 1941, Nazi forces took over the city. Upon their arrival they occupied the Acropolis and raised the Nazi flag, signifying the beginning of a very dark time in Greece, and the world.

However, there is an important occasion that shone some light on this period of history. It happened three days after the Germans arrival. Two brave students, Manolis Glezos and Lakis Santas, climbed to the top of the Acropolis and took down the swastika. These young men became known as anti-Nazi heroes and a symbol of hope and resistance in Greece.

Parthenon - HISTORY

Free admission Open daily 10.00-17.30 Fridays until 20.30

The British Museum Great Russell St London WC1B 3DG

A building from Athens’ golden age

The Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens was built between 447 and 438 BC as a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena Parthenos. The word parthénos (παρθένος) meant ‘maiden, girl’ or ‘virgin, unmarried woman’.

A reconstruction of how the Acropolis may have looked in ancient times, including the Parthenon. Illustration by Kate Morton.

The temple’s great size and lavish use of white marble was intended to show off the city’s power and wealth at the height of its empire, under the statesman Pericles. It was the centrepiece of an ambitious building programme centred on the Acropolis.

Some of the sculptures from the east pediment of the Parthenon.

The temple was richly decorated with sculptures, designed by the famous artist Pheidias, which took until 432 BC to complete. The pediments and metopes illustrate episodes from Greek myth, while the frieze represents the people of Athens in a religious procession. Inside the building stood a colossal image of Athena Parthenos, constructed of gold and ivory by Pheidias and probably dedicated in 438 BC.

The sculptures in ancient times

Sculptures carved in the round filled the pediments (the triangular gables) at either end of the building.

A reconstruction of the Parthenon showing the location of one of the pediments. Illustration by Kate Morton.

The pediment sculptures and metopes illustrate episodes from Greek myth, and include the famous head of a horse of Selene (the moon goddess) and the river god Ilissos.

Head of a horse of Selene and the river god Ilissos from the east and west pediments of the Parthenon.

Metopes (rectangular slabs carved in high relief) were placed above the architrave (the lintel above the columns) on the outside of the temple.

An illustration showing the location of the pediment, metopes and frieze on the Parthenon.

The metopes illustrate episodes from Greek myth, including the battle of the Centaurs and Lapiths.

The frieze (carved in low relief) ran around all four sides of the building inside the colonnade.

A reconstruction of the Parthenon showing the location of the frieze. Illustration by Kate Morton.

While the pediment sculptures and metopes depicted scenes from Greek myth, as was usual for the sculpture on Greek temples, the frieze breaks with all tradition as it shows the people of Athens in a religious procession. The Athenians on the frieze are not really portraits of ordinary people though. Instead, they are shown as an ideal community. The Athenians of Pericles’ time wanted to be remembered at their best by generations to come.

Pheidias was the most famous sculptor of all antiquity. He is best known as the artistic director of the Athenian building programme, including the Parthenon sculptures and the colossal gold and ivory statue of Athena Parthenos that stood inside the Parthenon.

Replica of the Athena Parthenon statue in Nashville by Alan Le Quire. Image from Wikimedia Commons. Photo: Dean Dixon.

We don’t know much about his life. He trained in the workshop of Ageladas of Argos. He worked mostly in Athens but also transferred his workshop to Olympia, where he constructed in gold and ivory the colossal gold and ivory seated Zeus – one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

A history of the building

The Parthenon has a long and complex history. The building was altered and the sculptures were damaged over the course of the centuries. It began nearly 2,500 years ago as a temple dedicated to Athena.

Around AD 500 it was converted into a Christian church (the church of the Virgin Mary of the Athenians) and remained so for a thousand years. At this time, the whole of the middle section of the east pediment was removed, destroying a dozen statues. Part of the east frieze was taken down, and almost all of the metopes on the east, north and west sides were deliberately defaced.

William Pars (c. 1742–1782), detail of the east front of the Parthenon with a mosque behind. Pen and grey ink and watercolour, with bodycolour, over graphite, 1765.

Mainland Greece was conquered by the Ottoman empire by 1460 and the building became a mosque in the early 1460s. When Athens was under siege by the Venetians in 1687, the Parthenon was used as a gunpowder store. A huge explosion blew the roof off and destroyed a large portion of the remaining sculptures. The building has been a ruin ever since.

The sculptures as museum objects

By 1800 only about half of the original sculptural decoration remained. From 1801, after obtaining permission from the Ottoman authorities, the British ambassador to the Ottoman empire Lord Elgin removed about half of the remaining sculptures from the fallen ruins and the building.

Elgin was passionate about ancient Greek art and transported the sculptures to Britain at his own expense. Their arrival in London made a profound impression upon European art and taste, at a time when the European Enlightenment was revising its idea of what art should be.

Archibald Archer, The Temporary Elgin Room constructed to display the Parthenon sculptures, with portraits of staff, a trustee and visitors. Oil painting on canvas, 1819.

These sculptures were first seen from 1807 in Lord Elgin’s temporary museum. However, Elgin had bankrupted himself transporting the sculptures to Britain. In 1816 Parliament decided to acquire the collection for the British Museum. Since 1817 the sculptures have always been on display to the public in the British Museum, free of charge.

The Parthenon sculptures as they were displayed in 1923 at the British Museum. This is now Room 17. Photo by Donald Macbeth.

The Parthenon sculptures in the British Museum are 247 feet (around 75 metres) of the original 524 feet (around 160 metres) of frieze, 15 of the 92 metopes, 17 figures from the two pediments, and various pieces of architecture from the building.

Sculptures from the west pediment of the Parthenon on display in Room 18 in the British Museum.

About half of the surviving sculptures remained in Athens, including extensive remains of the metopes (especially from the east, north and west of the building), the frieze (especially the north and west sides) and the pediments. In the 1970s the Greek government began a programme of restoration of the Acropolis monuments. As part of this work, all the architectural sculptures from the Parthenon have been removed to the Acropolis Museum, and all the Parthenon sculptures are now museum objects.

Most of the sculptures are roughly equally divided between Athens and London, but important pieces are also held by other major European museum including the Louvre and Vatican Museums.

Inspiration for artists

The Parthenon sculptures have inspired artists and writers for generations, from John Keats to Henry Moore. Perhaps the most influential of these was the French sculptor Auguste Rodin, who saw in Pheidias a kindred spirit and artistic mentor.

Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), Study of the Parthenon south frieze cavalcade. Graphite and pen and ink, before 1870. © Musée Rodin. Photo: Jean de Calan.

The Parthenon sculptures are iconic works of art. They play a central part in the story of art and will continue to inspire artists in the future.

Discover how Rodin was inspired by the Parthenon sculptures and see a selection of them on display in the exhibition Rodin and the art of ancient Greece (26 April – 29 July 2018).
Sponsored by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

The Parthenon today

The Parthenon, along with the other buildings on the Acropolis, is now one of the most visited archaeological sites in Greece. The Greek Ministry of Culture, with funding for the Olympic Games in 2004 and funding from UNESCO, has inaugurated a massive restoration project, still in progress.

The new Acropolis Museum, which was opened in June 2009, and located at the foot of the Acropolis, collected all the fragments of the frieze of the Parthenon in the possession of the Greek government (along with others still being recovered) in an architectural space rebuilt with the exact dimensions and orientation of the monument.


EY-Parthenon was founded in 1991 as The Parthenon Group by William "Bill" Achtmeyer and John C. Rutherford, who at that time served as director at the management consultancy Bain & Company. The founders established the firm to be a specialty boutique consulting firm leveraging the client relations they built during the time at Bain & Company Α] . In the subsequent years the firm grew rapidly and merged with Big Four professional services company Ernst & Young in 2014 Δ] . Under the new name EY-Parthenon the firm pursued an agressive expansion strategy growing its consultant base from approximately 350 in 2014 to 1,400 in 2018 Η] . This growth was realized organically through expanding teams with new recruits as well as inorganically by acquiring consulting firms ⎖] . In 2017 EY-Parthenon acquired the German and French business of OC&C Strategy consultants ⎖] ⎗] .


The accounts of the construction of the Parthenon make it possible to know that the marble intended for the pediments began to be extracted from the quarries of Mount Pentelikon in 439-438 BC. sculpture work starting the following year. [1] [2] The accounts also show that excavation and transportation expenses were annual. This could mean that different quarries would have been used each year to obtain the highest possible quality marble [1] The last marble purchases in the quarries are recorded in 434 BC. [2] In the logic of the construction of the building, the sculptures of the pediments had to be installed almost at the very end (before the installation of the roof), probably in 432 BC. [1] [3]

Since Adolf Michaelis in 1871, [N 1] the statues are designated from left to right by a letter: from A to W for the western pediment and from A to P for the eastern pediment. [1]

Pausanias regularly informs about the authors of the works he describes. [N 2] However, he gives no information on the "author" of the Parthenon pediments. [4] A master builder for each of the pediments may even be possible [5] Due to the size of the construction site (about fifty carved statues in half a dozen years), many artists must have worked there, as the differences of style and techniques show. Thus, the western pediment seems more refined, more "artificial" (almost mannerist) than the eastern pediment. It is possible that there was one artist per statue or group of statues. [5] [6] The accounts of 434-433 indicate that the sculptors were paid 16,392 drachmas. It is difficult to know, however, whether this is the total wage or the salary for that year alone. For comparison, the total cost of each of the (much smaller) pediments of Asclepius Temple in Epidaurus was 3,010 drachmas. Robert Spenser Stanier proposed in 1953 an estimate of 17 talents for pediments and acroterions. [1] [7]

The statues are the largest pediment statues made in classical Greece and they are almost all in one piece . [1] In addition, they were sculpted in the round. [1] [3] [8] [9] [10] The same care was accorded to the front and the back, though the latter is hidden. [3] [9] [10] It is possible that they were "exposed" on the site while waiting to be mounted on the Parthenon. The artists would then have chosen to finish them in their entirety. Nevertheless, the finish depends on the statues, and therefore the sculptors. On some, details, invisible from the ground were left unfinished, while on others, this was not the case. [3] In addition, it was necessary to plane the back of some (west A for example) to make them fit their designated place. [3] [9]

Deep rectangular grooves at the corners of pediments could indicate the presence in these places of a lift-type mechanism for mounting statues. [3]

Above the Doric frieze (triglyphs and metopes) was an overhanging horizontal cornice of twenty-five blocks of marble. The ranking cornices were surmounted by a painted sima (palmettes and golden lotus flowers). Thus was delimited a long space of 28.35 m and high (in its center) of 3.428 m or 3.47 m to a depth of 0.90 m. All the statues were installed on the horizontal cornice which exceeded in overhanging of 70 cm, placed either on a plinth or on a laying bed. To install the statue is G, the cornice had to be dug out. [9] [11]

The pediments of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, about twenty years older, and seem to have been a major influence for the realization of the pediments of the Parthenon. The dimensions are relatively equivalent: 3.44 meters high to a depth of 1 meter at Olympia. In order to make them more visible, because of the angle of vision, some of the statues were inclined outwards, as in Olympia, and sometimes up to 30 cm above the void. Even the sitting statues had their feet protruding from the edge. The fixing systems (dowels and spikes) of the statues at the horizontal cornice were nearly the same in Athens and Olympia. However, for the heaviest (in the center), the Parthenon sculptors had to innovate. They were held by iron props that sank to one side in the plinth of the statue and the other deep in the horizontal cornice and tympanum. These "L" props made the weight of the statue cantilevered on the cornice. [3] [8] [9] [11]

The pediments of the Parthenon included many statues. The one to the west had a little more than the one to the east. [8] In the description of the Acropolis of Athens by Pausanias, a sentence informs about the chosen themes: the quarrel between Athena and Poseidon for Attica in the west and the birth of Athena in the east. [N 3] This is the only evocation in the ancient literature of the Parthenon's decoration. [5] [12] In addition, the traveler gives no detail outside the general theme while he describes in a very precise way the pediments of the temple of Zeus in Olympia. Perhaps he considered the Panhellenic sanctuary of the Peloponnese to be more important than the Parthenon, the latter perhaps being too "local", or simply Athenian. [5]

The number of statues and the very precise myths evoked makes Bernard Ashmole [N 4] wonder if the contemporaries themselves were really capable of identifying all the characters. [13]

West Pediment Edit

To the west, on the "minor" facade, was the quarrel between Athena and Poseidon for Athens and Attica and the victory of the Virgin Goddess, one of the great local myths. [8] [14] [15] The two divinities disputed sovereignty over the region. They decided to offer the most beautiful gifts to win. With one blow of his trident, the god of the seas caused a spring (or a lake) of salty water to spring up on the acropolis. The virgin goddess with a spearhead made the first olive tree appear. The sources do not agree on the identity of the referees. They chose Athena and her olive tree. [16] [17] This story is first recounted by Herodotus (VIII, 55). This myth had hitherto been little represented: the artist who conceived the ensemble, as well as the sculptors, had a complete freedom. [18]

In the central space, the two gods (Athena on the left, West L, Poseidon on the right, West M) were perhaps separated by the olive tree of Athena or even the lightning of Zeus. [8] [17] The representation on this pediment of an intervention of Zeus in the quarrel could be the first occurrence of this theme. It is then found on a vase from the end of the fifth century BC. preserved in the archaeological museum of Pella and in literature. [19]

It is difficult to determine where the gift of the two gods could be represented: emerging from the ground at the end of their weapon (lance for Athena and trident for Poseidon) or the olive tree well in the center of the pediment, with the sacred serpent of Athena wrapped around. [20] It seems that Poseidon's torso was used as a model for the Triton (mythology) that adorn the Odeon of Agrippa in the agora. [21] The violence of the divine confrontation can be read in the tension of the tense bodies which are recoiling backward, as in the famous group Athena and Marsyas of Myron, dedicated on the acropolis a few years earlier. [21] [22] The movement also recalls that of the South metope XXVII. [17]

Then came the chariots (Biga) and their female charioteers. Nike (west G) leads that of Athena, but the statue has completely disappeared. Amphitrite (west O) is the usual charioteer of the sea god: on the drawing attributed to Carrey, she is identifiable thanks to the sea serpent at her feet, [N 5] but she is found occupying this function elsewhere in the art and perhaps is on one of the east metopes. [8] [21] [22] [23] Amphitrite wears a peplos with a wide belt worn very high, just under the chest. The garment is open on the left side, floating behind in the wind, leaving the leg bare. [13] The rearing horses allow an ideal occupation of the space between the cornices. [17] The Auriga are accompanied by the messenger gods: Hermes (west H) on the side of Athena and Nike Iris (west N) of the other. [8] [13] [21] [22] The head of Hermes disappeared between 1674 (drawing attributed to Carrey) and 1749 (drawing of Richard Dalton: he looked no longer the quarrel?, but already behind him. The bust of Iris was identified through the square holes at the shoulder blades, where her wings were originally attached. She wears a short tunic that the wind sticks to the forms of her body that can be divined in multiple folds. The tunic was retained by a thin belt, added in bronze and since lost. [13]

After this large central group, the tension drops and the poses of the statues are calmer. [21]

On the left side were various characters from the Attic mythology whose identifications are discussed. The general theme of the pediment being a purely local myth, it is often surmised that Athenian heroes should be represented. The western figures D, E and F have disappeared. The west group B and C is very damaged. Snake fragments (a snake or the tail of the male figure) suggest that it could be Cecrops and his daughter Pandrosus. [8] [13] [21] [24]

On the right side, two seated women carry children: west Q holds two babies (west P and R), it could be Orithyia the daughter of Erechtheus, carrying the two sons she had of Boreas Calais and Zetes West T has an older child on the knees (west S). The western U and V statues are highly damaged and fragmentary but do not appear to form a group. [25] [26]

The first figure on the left, male, (west A) and the last on the right, female, (west W) are symmetrical. By analogy with the pediments of Olympia, river deities have been identified: Ilissos or Cephis on the left and perhaps Callirrhoe on the right. [8] [21] [25] [27] The statue of the Ilissos is of very high quality in its rendering of the anatomical details and in its movement: it seems to be extracted from the ground while turning towards the central scene. [26]

The composition of this pediment is inspired by that of the eastern pediment of Olympia. The idea of simple "spectator" statues sitting on the exteriors and then of river gods was also borrowed from the sanctuary in the Peloponnese. [11] The western statues B, C, L, Q and perhaps W have been copied and adapted to adorn one of the pediments of the temple of Eleusis (smaller than that of the Parthenon), completed in the second century and representing the abduction of Persephone. [21]

Where Is the Parthenon Located?

The Parthenon is located on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. The Acropolis is home to several buildings and temples which have survived since the days of ancient Greece.

The Athenian Acropolis is a hill overlooking the city, and it once served as the religious and financial center of ancient Athens. Besides the Parthenon, some of the buildings that have survived to modern times are Athena Nike (an Ionic temple built during the Peloponnesian War), the Propylaea and the Erechtheion.

The ancient Greeks built the Parthenon after another temple, which archeologists today call the "Pre-Parthenon," was destroyed by Persians in 480 BC. The Greeks began construction on the current Parthenon in 447 BC. The Athenian empire was then at the height of its powers and dedicated the Parthenon to Athena, the patron goddess of Athens.

The Parthenon is a Doric temple with some elements of the Ionic architectural order. It was designed by two architects, Iktinos and Kallikrates, and was intended to be the focal point of the Acropolis. It is considered one of the most important ancient buildings to have survived into modern times, and is an enduring symbol of ancient Greek culture.

Originally, the Parthenon housed the gold and ivory statue of Athena. It also served as a treasury. In the 5th century AD it was turned into a Christian church, and in the 15th century the Ottomans turned it into a mosque. Many of the Parthenon's original sculptures were removed to the British Museum.

Fact #6: The origin of the Parthenon’s name

The word “parthenos" in ancient Greek meant “virgin”. In the Greek Pantheon, there were two goddesses that were known for their purity and were also called with the epithet “Virgin” Artemis, the goddess of hunting and wild nature, and Athena, the goddess of warfare strategy and wisdom. Since the temple was dedicated to goddess Athena, it is reasonable to consider that the Parthenon took its name from the epithet of the Virgin Goddess. However, it has also been suggested that the name of the temple may come from the virgins, whose sacrifice ensured the security of the city. The architects Iktinos and Kallikratis seem to have referred to the building as "Hekatompedos" in their lost treatise on Athenian architecture. Moreover, during the 4th century onwards, the building is referred to as “Hekatompedos" or "Hekatompedon", as well as " Parthenon".

Legacy Of The Parthenon Friezes

It is easy to see that the content on the Parthenon was not only meant to be sacred but also political. By analyzing the artwork of the Parthenon through a historical and contextual lens, the dual messaging of the Parthenon’s friezes becomes very obvious to the modern observer. It must have been even more apparent to the contemporaneous Athenian, as the imagery made allusions to very commonly recognized themes, myths, and characters in Athenian culture.