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The Art Of The Parthenon Essay

1997 words - 8 pages

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Special Study
“The Parthenon sculptures were created more for the glory of the Athenian people than the gods. Discuss.

The Parthenon sculptures were created more for the glory of the Athenian people than the gods. Discuss.
The once grand temple, known as the Parthenon, was built between 447 and 438 BC. Constructed during the reign of the great statesman, Pericles, the Parthenon was created with the intention of honoring the goddess Athena, the patron goddess of Athens. In fact, many of the sculptures held a double meaning, glorifying not only the patron goddess of war, but rather glorifying people of Athens, known throughout the ancient ...view middle of the document...

The right side of the east pediment shows the bringing of night by the horses of Selene, with sculptures of what is thought to be Aphrodite and her mother. The left side of the pediment, featuring the sculpture of a nude man, thought to be Dionysus, represents the encroaching light that the birth of Athena had bought. The Parthenon’s west pediment holds great importance and symbolism, showing the goddess in a state of warfare. This mythological battle, wherein the victor would claim the coveted land of Athens and surrounding Attica, was glorified on the Parthenon as Athena’s greatest victory. By venerating this as Athena’s greatest victory, it shows the Athenians conceited attitude, as if they intended for all to know how lucky Athena was to win the people of Attica. The surviving sculptures are some of the best examples of Classical sculpture. Created by Phidias, the sculptures show great movement, indents of muscle and the curved lines of the body, glorifying the gods, who were by nature vain. This series of sculptures is integral in understanding the mythological origins of Athens, showing the goddess Athena, who is seen with the olive tree, the first one to be planted in Athens. The Pediments act as juxtaposed images of Athena’s life, from her birth to her greatest victory, the battle for Athens and the battle for the Athenians.

The Metopes:
Unlike other Greek temples, the Parthenon features ninety-two metopes, carved in high relief with scenes of Greek mythology. The metope in Greek architecture is a rectangular element that serves as a decorative band around the outer edges of the temple. The metopes of each side of the Parthenon are dedicated to the battle and warfare, as Athena is the goddess of war. On the west side, combat between Greek and Amazons; on the north, scenes from the sack of Troy; on the east a battle of gods and giants and finally, the most influential on the south, the battle between Centaurs and the human Lapiths. The series featuring the human Lapiths of Northern Greece and the half man half horse Centaurs shows the Centaurs attending the wedding of Peirithoos, king of the Lapiths. At the wedding, the Centaurs are served wine, which ignites their savage side and they proceed to rape the women and destroy the house of Peirithoos. Although the Lapiths were victorious, the metopes depict a gruesome battle, with casualties of both sides. The metopes show the centaurs engaging in vicious battle with the Lapiths, pulling them by the hair and celebrating over their kills. The Lapiths are also shown engaging in battle, strangling the centaurs and cutting into their hindquarters. It would appear that scenes of combat and warfare are appropriate in decorating a temple dedicated to the patron goddess of war, but the sculptures also represent a political triumph of Athens. In 480BC, roughly a generation before the Parthenon was built; the Persians under King Xerxes attacked the Acropolis of Athens, destroying an unfinished...

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