The Parthenon - Article 6 (382 words)

The Parthenon

The Building

The Parthenon is the most important and famous monument of Athens Acropolis and even of all the Ancient Greek civilization. The temple is dedicated to Athena Parthenos (the virgin), the patron goddess of Athens and the name "Parthenon" means "virgin's apartment". The temple is located on the highest part of the Acropolis. It was designed by the architect Iktinos and Kallikrates and was built between 447 and 432 B.C. during the Periclean project. The supervisor of the whole work was Pheidias, the famous Athenian sculptor. The temple is built in the Doric architectural style and in Pentelic marble.

The temple consisted of 8 Doric columns on each of the narrow sides and 17 columns on each of the long sides. The lines of the temple were curved in a special way in order to give an optical illusion that gives the impression that the foundations are straight.

The central part of the temple, in front of a pool of water, stood a 40 foot ivory and gold statue of Athena.

The Decorations

The decorations of the Parthenon are considered as unique masterpieces. It is a combination of the Doric metopes and the Ionic frieze on the walls of the cella.

The metopes, on the east side, depict the Olympian gods fighting against the giants, on the west side, the Lapiths battle the centaurs, on the east side, the triumph of the Greeks over the Amazons while the north side depict the triumph of the Athenians over the Trojans.

The relief frieze runs along the four sides of the temple and depicts the Procession of the Panathenaea, the most important religious festival of ancient Athens. The frieze includes figure of gods, beasts and some 360 humans.

The two pediments of the temple represented major mythological scenes: the east pediment represents the birth of Athena and the west pediment, the fight that took place between Athena and Poseidon for the name of the city.

The Parthenon was the victim of many transformations, depending of what civilization was ruling the city. The final destruction took place in the beginning of the 19th century when the British ambassador in Constantinople, Lord Elgin, stole the decorations of the Parthenon and sold them to the British Museum where they are still exhibited.

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