The Parthenon Enigma

By Joan Breton Connelly

In-built the 5th century b.c., the Parthenon has been honored for greater than millennia because the West’s final paragon of good looks and share. because the Enlightenment, it has additionally come to symbolize our political beliefs, the lavish temple to the goddess Athena serving because the version for our such a lot hallowed civic structure. yet how a lot do the values of these who equipped the Parthenon really correspond with our personal? And except the importance with which we've invested it, what precisely did this wonder of human arms suggest to those that made it?

In this innovative booklet, Joan Breton Connelly demanding situations our most simple assumptions in regards to the Parthenon and the traditional Athenians. starting with the typical setting and its wealthy mythic institutions, she re-creates the advance of the Acropolis—the Sacred Rock on the center of the city-state—from its prehistoric origins to its Periklean glory days as a constellation of temples between which the Parthenon stood perfect. specifically, she probes the Parthenon’s mythical frieze: the 525-foot-long reduction sculpture that initially encircled the higher reaches ahead of it used to be in part destroyed by way of Venetian cannon fireplace (in the 17th century) and so much of what remained used to be shipped off to Britain (in the 19th century) one of the Elgin marbles. The frieze’s colossal enigmatic procession—a magnificent competition of cavalrymen and elders, musicians and maidens—has for greater than 200 years been suggestion to symbolize a scene of annual civic get together within the birthplace of democracy. yet because of a once-lost play via Euripides (the discovery of which, within the wrappings of a Hellenistic Egyptian mummy, is just one of this book’s interesting adventures), Connelly has exposed a long-buried which means, a narrative of human sacrifice set throughout the city’s mythic founding. In a society startlingly preoccupied with cult ritual, this tale was once on the center of what it intended to be Athenian. Connelly finds an international that beggars our well known notions of Athens as a urban of staid philosophers, rationalists, and rhetoricians, an international within which our sleek secular perception of democracy may were easily incomprehensible.

The Parthenon’s complete value has been obscured formerly owing in no small half, Connelly argues, to the frieze’s dismemberment. And so her research concludes with a choice to reunite the items, so that what's maybe the best unmarried murals surviving from antiquity might be seen extra approximately as its makers meant. Marshalling a wide ranging variety of textual and visible facts, choked with clean insights woven right into a exciting narrative that brings the far-off prior to lifestyles, The Parthenon Enigma is bound to develop into a landmark in our realizing of the civilization from which we declare cultural descent.

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The identities of these at correct are doubtful: Poseidon or Hephaistos (? ), Amphitrite (? ), and one illegible determine. To the left we see Athena, Hera, and Zeus, seated on rocky outcrops. Barringer laments the truth that there aren't any iconographic parallels for an Atlantis-versus-Athens showdown, yet this might appear completely in response to the positioning specificity of this type of temple sculpture. The iconography of the Parthenon’s east frieze, just like the east pediment of Zeus’s temple at Olympia, can also be unexampled in modern sculpture or vase portray.

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