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The Parthenon is one of the many buildings on the Acropolis of Athens. The original building on the site was built as an offering to honor the goddess Athena because the people of ancient Athens believed that she watched over their city. Unfortunately, it was badly damaged by the Persians when they attacked Athens in 480 BC. It sat in ruins after the Persian War because other repairs to the city were needed, so the project of resoring the Parthenon was postponed for about 30 years.
The Parthenon is basically a Doirc temple with eight rows of Doric columns along the back and front of the building, and seventeen down each side (counting the corner ones both ways). The six columns in the center are slightly smaller than the outer ones. The Parthenon was divided into two main chambers. In the central area of the smaller of the two inner rooms, stood the famous statue of Athena which was plated with gold and ivory. The building was made of mostly marble, no mortar or cement was used. Each block was accurately measured and cut to fit. Clamps and dowels were used to hold them in place during construction and later they were leaded into place.
The 92 metopes (small squares above the columns on the sides of the building with sculptures on them) found on the Parthenon depicted a series of dual combats between mythical figures. The metopes on the western side show the mythical battle against the Amazons. On the south side is the battle between the Laptihs and Centaurs. On the east side gods and giants fight, and on the north side, the Greeks fight the Trojans.
On the eastern pediment (the trianglar shapes on the ends of the building below the roof) are images of the story of the birth of Athena. The legend tells about how Zeus wanted the knowledge of Athena's mother, so he turned her into a fly. He ended up swallowing her and when Athena was born his head began to swell as she grew. His head ached more and more so he call upon his blacksmith, Hephaestus, who used one of his tool to crack open Zeus' skull. Out came Athena, born full-grown. The birth of Athena is usually associated with rebirth or starting something new.
On the north and south sides (on the base) heading west to east are mounted horsemen, chariot groups, and citizens of Athens. In front musicians and people with gifts and offerings lead the way.
Leacrott, Helen and Richard. The Buildings of Ancient Greece. New York: William Scott Inc., 1996.
"Parthenon" (CD-ROM) Encata 95. Microsoft, Inc. , 1995.
Silverman, David. " Parthenon" (website) @ http://homer.reed.edu/Parthenon.html, 1/6/00.
Stillwell, Richard. " Parthenon" Colllier. s Encyclopedia, volume #8, 1985.
Picture #1 - "Parthenon" from: Mr. Loeser's private slide collection.
Picture #2 - "Construction of the Parthenon" from: The Buildings of Ancient Greece.
Picture #3 - "Metope of Laptih fighting a Centaur" from: The Buildings of Ancient Greece.
Picture #4 - "Pediment Reconstruction" from: Mr. Loeser's private slide collection.
Picture #5 - "Freize from the south side" from: The Buildings of Ancient Greece.
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