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Parthenon –Architecture

Page history last edited by Andrea 15 years, 6 months ago

By: Andrea DelVesco, Taylor Dill, Brandon Bernstrom


The Architecture of the Parthenon

[Parthenon when it was fully constructed in 5th Century BCE. http://www.mlahanas.de/Greeks/Arts/Parthenon/Parthenon2.jpg]

     The Parthenon, a very famous Greek temple honoring the goddess Athena, is renowned for its architectural style. The Parthenon is found on the Athenian Acropolis, a well-known, ancient city on a mountain. In fact, the Greek word “acros” means “high or above” and the Greek word “polis” means “city”. The Parthenon was competed in 432 BCE and was a great accomplishment of the architects Kallikrates and Iktinos (Art: A Brief History, 86). The Parthenon was hugely important to Athens in the ancient times, and it continues still to be a place of great interest and beauty.


      The Parthenon is considered a Doric temple, but not your average Doric temple, for the Parthenon has four Ionic columns as support columns. The outer frieze, or decorated blocks on top of the columns, is Doric, and the inner frieze is Ionic (Art Through the Ages, 148-149). A Parthenon frieze is shownFrieze in the picture below. The Parthenon is more lavishly decorated than any other classic Greek Ionic or Doric Temple because it symbolizes a shelter and home for Athena, who is an illustrious goddess and the patron saint of Athens, Greece (Art: A Brief History, 86). However, it did not highlight religion as many other temples did, but instead power, prestige, and patriotism (Greek Art, 14).The Parthenon emulates Classical architecture. That basically means that when people think of Classical Greek architecture, they think of the Parthenon because it is so clean-cut and neat with "harmonious proportions, subtle details, and rational relationship of part to part" (Art: A Brief History, 86). In fact, it refined Greek architecture by replacing the usual terra cotta with the finest Pentelic marble, and by using a cella and peristyle plan(Classical Civilizations 25). The cella is the main open room of a temple where an image of the god was erected. A peristyle is an open garden surrounded by columns. Optical illusions are implemented throughout the entire building. They are seen in the width of the columns to make the corner columns look to be equal in size to

[Parthenon Frieze. 5th cent. BCE, 3 ft. tall http://www.sikyon      the other columns; and also the horizontal lines of the roof are curved slightly

.com/athens/Parthenon/frieze01_eg.html]                             upward. If the horizontal lines were not arched, the stone looked as though it was sagging. Columns are wider at the bottom than the top because, from far away, they look more balanced and straight.  There are eight columns on the short sides of the temple and seventeen on the long sides. The architects used the algebraic equation  x=2y + 1  to build the Panthenon, so its proportions would be perfect. That equation was used to determine the number of columns, the distance between columns, and the size of the cella (Art Through the Ages, 150). Much planning went into the architecture of the Parthenon, and it still provides much inspiration for and is admired by architects today.



 [Floor plan of the parthenon. 5th Century BCE.  http://www.greeklandscapes.com/images/destinations/acropolis/other_photos/parthenon_flooplan.jpg





    Courtesy of NoodleTools


Boardman, John. Greek Art. New York, New York: Thames and Hudson Inc., 1996.


Cotterell, Arthur. The Penguin encyclopedia of Classical Civilizations. Hong Kong: Penguin Group, 1995.


“Parthenon.” Encyclopaedia Britannica Online School Edition. 2008. Encyclopaedia Britannica. 7 Dec. 2008 <http://school.eb.com/‌all/‌eb/‌article-9058586?query=parthenon%20architecture&ct=null >.


Stokstad, Marilyn. Art: A Brief History. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc., 2007.


Tansey, Richard G., and Fred S. Kleiner. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages. Fort Worth: Ted Buchholz, 1996.



Comments (1)

Andrea said

at 1:45 pm on Dec 1, 2008

Andrea DelVesco, Taylor Dill, Brandon Bernstrom :)

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