The Golden Ratio: The Parthenon
The Parthenon, seated atop the Acropolis of Athens, is one of the greatest architecture accomplishments in the history of the world. Constructed by Ictinus and Callicrates from 447-432 BC, during the Golden Age of Greece, The Parthenon stood as physical embodiment of ancient Greek beliefs and ideology. At first glance, one is overcome with the Parthenon’s sheer vastness, and occupation of space. Moreover, one can’t help but notice the precision-like symmetrical-design of the Parthenon. The temple is beautiful to look at, and is full of minute, and unnoticeable details that forces the viewer to ask more questions. How did they manage to erect the massive pillars? How did they have the technology to create consistent cuts, and craft the Parthenon at such a distinct angle to give the appearance of perfect symmetry? However, perhaps, the most important question of the creation Parthenon isn’t how they engineered the beautiful masterpiece, but instead how, time and time again, the Greeks managed to construct elaborate buildings that somehow emulated the beauty of nature. It’s almost as if the Greeks envisioned each building as a blooming perennial that should be constructed with the same elegance, and sheer perfection that one would see in their favorite flower. This idea of design is what lead the Parthenon to become regarded as one of the most beautiful buildings to ever be constructed in the history of man. Parthenon design set precedence: not only for other Greek buildings like it, but for future architecture, and design, for centuries to come.
To do this, the Greeks discovered, and implemented, something that even the most advanced architects still can’t seem to grasp today: the golden ratio. First documented in about 300 BC, the Greeks’ knowledge of the golden ratio allowed them to construct the Parthenon, and many other magnificent buildings, in the most aesthetically pleasing manner. Sequentially, the Parthenon contains many different instances, and blatant examples of golden ratio influence. Starting with the façade of the Parthenon, we see the most noticeable example of the golden ratio on top of the columns with the structural support beam. The beam atop the columns appears to be in direct golden ratio proportion to the columns it is supporting. Additional evidence for the use of the golden ratio is visible in the support beam itself. The beam split horizontally down the middle is in direct golden ratio proportion to the height of the beam. This is exactly what made Greek and Roman architecture, and sculpture, so special. They looked to mathematical formulas, and nature, to create these visually pleasing works of art. It allowed viewers to, although subconsciously, understand the golden rule, and appreciate Greek and Roman architecture for constructing such monuments that seem to emulate the beauty of nature.