The Art of Arhitecture as Embodied in Parthenon

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“What art is, in reality, is this missing link, not the links which exist. It’s not what you see that is art; art is the gap” (Duchamp). This quote perfectly explains the piece of art in which is used as the focal point of this essay, the Parthenon. The structure itself cannot be discussed without referencing the person most known and associated for the construction of the Parthenon, Perciles. Pericles is given recognition on creating the Parthenon. “Ancient Greek statesman Pericles, leader of Athens from 460–429 B.C., organized the construction of the Parthenon and developed a democracy based on majority rule” (Perciles). “Pericles was born into one of Athens’ leading families in the heyday of classical Greece” (Perciles). Pericles was a part of the “golden ages”. By him being a ruler, he had power to dictate when and how things were done and this is how the Parthenon came to be. Pericles is known for many things he done in Athens that made him well-known. The impact he has on the culture and the advances he implied helped him to become a renowned ruler. The Parthenon is one of his contributes to history as well as architecture he is most known for. Perciles, after his two sons died in 429.

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“For this purpose gold was selected, and it was necessary to provide a quantity of the weight of forty talents. Phidias, by the suggestions of Pericles, applied this in such a way as easily to admit of being taken off. Two motives induced Pericles to give this advice. He foresaw that a time might come when it should be necessary to employ this gold for the urgent necessities of the state, a measure which he in fact proposed at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war. He foresaw likewise that himself as well as Phidias might hereafter be accused of having applied part of it to other purposes, and of this they afterwards really were accused; but by the precautions they had used, the slanderous charge only redounded to the dishonor of their enemies.”(Anacharsis 228)” (The Parthenon).

The Parthenon was built in 447 B.C. following the Persian War. The initial building was burned down, and it had to be rebuilt and refurbished. “The original temple complex to Athena on the acropolis was burned by the Persian army in 480/479 BCE, less than a decade after it was begun” (DeWitte et al.). “The new Parthenon was so important that it was made of glistening white marble, which was transported several miles to Athens, and then carried up the steep slope to the acropolis. Its design was thought to epitomize ideal proportions, symbolizing for the Athenians their achievements as an enlightened society” (DeWitte et al.). The newly built structure was even more important to the people of Greece and their culture. As mention by DeWitte the Parthenon was seen as a representation of all of what Athenians had overcome. “The overall architecture of the Parthenon is truly a marvel and is something that left many of the architects working on the restoration of this temple truly baffled”. (The Parthenon).

The building of the Parthenon was costly. “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)” (Parthenon). There are many different features that were added to the Parthenon to help enhance its beauty. Each of these features hold their own special architectural meaning. The features include metopes and the Parthenon frieze. Metopes are described as square blocks placed between three-channeled triglyph blocks according to the Parthenon article. There were 92 of these blocks carved and placed on the outer 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.” (Parthenon).“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). The frieze in the Parthenon are figures that are “structured and raised from the ground”. “A broad, decorated horizontal band called a frieze runs along the entire length of the walls of the Parthenon’s inner chamber (the cella)” (Parthenon). The various and complex nature of the Parthenon made it a site to see. Though many of the marvels that were inside the Parthenon did not make it over the years, there is still record of them being a part of its construction. The Parthenon and the wonders inside were and still are unheard of. The assembly of the Parthenon left its mark on history. The people of Athens treasured the structure and claimed it as one of Greece’s most historically meaningful architectural pieces during the golden ages. To date, this structure is still one of the main attractions in Athens, Greece.

In conclusion, the Parthenon in its entirety and complexity exemplifies some of the most profound architectural advances of the golden ages in Athens, Greece. The structure had been destroyed in a war and instead of Athenians giving up and losing hope, they rebuilt and refreshed. Under the great ruling of Pericles, Athenians were given something to look forward to in this Parthenon. The time and money that was put into the Parthenon was astounding. The massive structure included meaningful carving, structures, and statues that also helped to represent its meaning in its entirety. It is important to remember that when these architectural advances were made, the people did not have the luxury of machines, computers, and industrial equipment that we have today. The people of Athens worked tirelessly to complete the task of building, rebuilding, and completing the Parthenon. This should give anyone a new outlook on art as well as architecture. The Parthenon and all architectural structures are and will forever be very influential to the culture of Athens as well as architecture around the world.

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