Parthenon Essay Paper

The Parthenon Essay

The ancient Greek civilization contributed many great new ideas and aspects to everyday life that shaped and inspired the modern day society. The Greeks are well known for their construction of temples, acropolis’ and other grand architectural structures. Among these structures stood one of the most famous, the Parthenon. The Parthenon was a symbol of Greek society and culture as it stood as one of Greece’s most important architectural buildings.
Besides being the Athenians greatest architectural achievement, the Parthenon serves a basic purpose. The Parthenon is a temple devoted to Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and guardian of the city- state of Athens that got its name from her. The temple marked the zenith of ancient Greek architecture (Glancey 26). The structure was built to protect and shelter the statue of Athena, which was sculpted by Phidias. The enormous statue of Athena consisted of gold and ivory and stood up to be approximately nine to eleven meters. Unfortunately, this statue of Athena was thought to be lost in the future and was later replaced. Upon construction of the Athenian pride and symbol, the Parthenon successfully stood for 2,500 years. Later, the Parthenon was converted into a church for Virgin Mary of Athens in the sixth century AD. The condition and position of the building seemed well until the fait of the Parthenon changed in the future when two major collisions occurred.
Built in the fifth century BCE, the construction of the Parthenon was one of Greece’s most mathematically accurate structures. The Parthenon was built in the Doric order, with seventeen columns at the flanks and eight columns on the sides which formed a cella and a ratio of nine to four. “This ratio governed the vertical and horizontal proportions of the temple as well as many other relationships of the building like the spacing between the columns and their height”

(Sakoulas OL). As a cause of this relationship, the Parthenon plays a trick and strikes an illusion to the eye. Greek architects Ictinus and Callicrates erected the temple atop the southern flank of
the acropolis, the central hill of the Greek city –state which was used for defensive and religious purposes, then in seventeen years, Ictinus and Callicrates completed the decorations of the Parthenon (Harper OL). The Parthenon is made entirely of a marble from Mount Pentelicus called Pentelic marble and stands approximately eighteen meters high. The selections made for the material of the Parthenon were chosen with many points considered to ensure a strong and sturdy future.
“The Parthenon was commissioned by Pericles sometime after Greek victories over the Persians...

Loading: Checking Spelling

0%

Read more

Ideas of the Parthenon Essay

1429 words - 6 pages The Greek people of the 5th century BC created a culture that was deeply rooted in philosophy and the arts. Their endless search for their place in the grand scheme of the universe and in nature around them influenced everything in their lives especially their love of the arts. Their drama, sculpture, and even architecture are all shining examples of the ideas that were so dominant in the minds of the Greek people. What could be considered the...

The Parthenon: Athenian Victory Essay

2596 words - 10 pages The scene was 5th century B.C. Athens in ancient Greece. The Athenians had just defeated the Persians in an impressive defense of their great city. An overwhelming sense of pride and victory permeated the minds of every loyal citizen. Cultural and political achievements had reached new heights. Pericles, a fiery orator and elected statesman, had proposed a massive resurrection of the...

The Significance of the Parthenon

899 words - 4 pages Why is the Parthenon regarded as the finest example of the architecture of Ancient Greece? Consider the building siting, design, detailing, materials and cultural significance.Built in a time of radical new ideas in science, beauty, government...

How The Parthenon Lost Its Marbles

2811 words - 11 pages Disagreement regarding the ownership of property has caused quarrels among the human race for the better part of its documented history. The concept of “ours” and “sharing” is really only practiced among small groups of people. Even in small groups, quite often, these ideas are not practiced very well. One major current battle for ownership lies in the world of antiquity. The Parthenon of

Propaganda and National Pride in Building the Parthenon

2275 words - 9 pages To what extent were propaganda and national pride as important as religion in the design, construction and decoration of the Parthenon? Although the decision to build the Parthenon was highly controversial in Athens because of the politics that surrounded it, was the Parthenon erected simply as sign of dedication to the gods? Or was it to fuel the dwindling pride of the Athenian citizens? By studying the structure, decoration and design,...

Fractals: Stonehenge, the Pyramids of Giza, the Parthenon

2299 words - 9 pages My infatuation in fractals began freshmen year at Greeley after taking a Seminar with one of the seniors. I’m not sure exactly when simple interest turned to a kind of obsession, but during that lesson something seemed to click. It seemed as if this was the universe’s answer to everything; the mystery was solved, however complex the answer was to understand. I’m still not sure if I was misunderstanding the lesson, or if I had somehow seen it for...

This essay tells you all the reasons for why the Parthenon is a special example of a Greek Temple, during the greek classical period.

920 words - 4 pages History of ArtIn what ways was the Parthenon an unusual example of a temple in Greece of the 5th century B.C. Relate its unusual features to the historical and political circumstances in 5th Century Athens.When you look at the Parthenon and try to show what is different about it, and why this difference has occurred, you must look at it in the eyes of the Athenians in the 5th Century, and how they would have seen it. This is what...

Public Art in Greece: To what extent and in what ways does the Parthenon perform the function of a gigantic billboard for the late fifth century Athens? For whom is it intended?

1808 words - 7 pages The Parthenon (447-432BC) was dedicated to Athena, daughter of Zeus, and she was therefore one of the major figures in the Greek Parthenon. She was the goddess of wisdom, learning, the arts, household crafts and was the patroness and protector of Athens. Thus,

Classical Architecture

604 words - 2 pages Classical Architecture The West has always put a great emphasis on how beholden it is to many cultural and political institutions derived from Classical Antiquity. This has been most consistent in aesthetic conceptions of art and architecture. Many monuments and architectural traditions of the West derive directly from ancient sources, in an attempt to link the ideals of modern life with those of ancient Greece and Rome. Nowhere is this more...

The Influence of Humanism in the Architecture of Classical Greece and Rome

965 words - 4 pages Throughout history, there have been numerous factors that have influenced the development of western architecture. The most influential factor of classical architecture was humanism. The ideology of humanism is an attitude centered chiefly in the values, interests, and potential of human beings (Webster's II New Riverside Dictionary 205). Humanism is what leads to the development of the Classical World as we know it.In the Classical...

Classical and Gothic Architecture

820 words - 3 pages Classical and Gothic ArchitectureThe cultures of the ancient Greeks and medieval Europeans were significantly influenced by religion. Greek Classicism brought about some of the most beautiful artwork and architecture that still exists today. The style strives to exemplify a culture of harmony, order, reason, intellect, objectivity,...

Ideas of the Parthenon

The Greek people of the 5th century BC created a culture that was deeply rooted in philosophy and the arts. Their endless search for their place in the grand scheme of the universe and in nature around them influenced everything in their lives especially their love of the arts. Their drama, sculpture, and even architecture are all shining examples of the ideas that were so dominant in the minds of the Greek people. What could be considered the crown jewel of Greek architecture, the Parthenon, is one such of these examples. It brings into form the three principal ideas of humanism, rationalism, and idealism of the 5th century Greek people through not only its structure, but its ornamentation and sculpture as well.

The basis of humanism can be summed up in the words of Protagoras, “Man is the measure of all things.” Humanism is the idea that human beings are the yardstick by with to measure all things in the universe, including Greek gods and goddesses. The Parthenon stands for this very idea through the fact that it is a human organization of space. It brings an understandable order into a chaotic space that would otherwise be incomprehensible to a human being. It allows a human to see the space and recognize it as something that is real. It also consists of repeated patterns and distance intervals throughout its structure that add to this order. The metopes, for example, are set in an alternating pattern with the triglyphs around the entire building at distinct intervals bringing a clear order to the entablature of the Parthenon. The columns that support the Parthenon are also placed in certain distance intervals from each other and coincide with the pattern formed by the metopes and triglyphs. These columns, however, are not in a perfect pattern of equal distances around the entire Parthenon. The columns on either side of the doorway to the Parthenon are placed a little farther apart than the rest to show a clear entrance to the building. Also the corner columns of the building are positioned slightly closer to their neighboring columns in order to compensate for the human eye. Without this compensation the columns would give the illusion of leaning outward and being farther apart than the rest of the columns because of the distortion of such a large structure to the human eye. The stylobate that the columns rest on is also built to allow for this optical illusion of the human eye. It has a gentle arch to it that prevent the human eye from believing the building to be concave or sagging toward the middle. This effect, known as entasis, can be seen throughout the Parthenon from the curve of the stylobate and entablature to the slight bulging of the columns that gives the impression of bearing the load of the structure. Another example of humanism in the Parthenon can be seen in it ornamentation and sculpture.

The Parthenon is a temple to the goddess of wisdom, Athena, and has many references to her though its decorative art work. For example, the East pediment of the Parthenon depicts the birth of Athena from the head of Zeus. All of the figures in the pediment are in a human form, including the gods and goddesses and Athena herself. This is a way of bringing the gods down to a level that can be recognized and understood by humans who worship them. This is true of all the Greek statues of gods and goddesses such as the gold and ivory statue of the goddess Athena that stood in the Parthenon itself.

Another idea of the 5th century Greek people that can be recognized in the Parthenon is that of rationalism. Rationalism is the idea of eternal principles or basic truths that are inherent in the universe and in the human mind. An example is that of Pythagoras’ right triangle theory that a²+b²=c², which cannot be total proven but yet has never been disproved either. This same theory can be seen in the Parthenon through its rectangular shape which, if cut in half diagonally, would be two right triangles. As it is plain to see, rationalism had a great hand in the very shape of the Parthenon as well as many other aspects. One of these other aspects has to do with the size of one part of the Parthenon in proportion to the size of another part. The proportion or ratio of 9:4 has been recognized and reoccurs throughout the building in many different instances. For example, when the length of the Parthenon at the stylobate of 228 feet is compared to the width at the stylobate of 104 feet the resulting ratio is 9:4. This ratio can also be seen when you compare the distance from the center of one column to the center of the neighboring column to the diameter of the column at its base and in the distance of that diameter to the width of the triglyph on the entablature. Moving on from the Parthenon’s structure to the statues, pediments and friezes that decorate this temple to Athena, one can notice even more effects of the idea of rationalism. In the 5th century BC, a sculptor by the name of Polyclitus very successfully attempted to apply a canon, or body of rules, to the proportions of the human body through sculpture. Although Polyclitus didn’t set his body of rules in stone, so to speak, he started an idea of rationalism that applied to the ratios of the human body. The statue of the goddess Athena that resides in the Parthenon is one such sculpture that was created with a similar body of rules in mind. The same can be said for the elaborate pediment on the East end of the Parthenon, as well as the much smaller friezes and metopes that decorate the great building inside and out.

The humanistic concepts of the Parthenon are plain to see, a building built by humans, for humans, and built with human ideas, but what about the other side of the coin. This other side of humanistic thinking is known as idealism. Idealism is the perfect and unblemished aspirations of human beings manifested in their minds and their art, such as the Parthenon. The Greeks belief in their gods and goddesses is the perfect example of this idea of idealism. To the Greeks, their gods and goddesses represented the perfection that they all were trying to achieve physically and mentally, which is a direct contrast of the humanistic idea of man being the measure of all things. Thus, when one looks at the statue of Athena or the East pediment depicting her birth they can interpret them as an example of humanism, gods being more human, or as idealistic, humans being more god-like. The same can be said for the use of entasis and the other deviations from “perfect” geometry in the Parthenon. By adjusting the building from exact right angles and precise flat surfaces, the architect made the Parthenon appear, to the human eye, as an idealized dwelling for a perfect being, the goddess Athena. There are other examples of idealism in the Parthenon that are not related to humanism at all. The sheer size of the building hints to the fact that the Parthenon is a place that is not meant for a human or even built with a human being in mind. For example, the steps of the Parthenon are to such a large scale that is clumsy and awkward for a man’s normal stride, but in the Greek mind, the perfect distance and size for that of a goddess. The entrance to the Parthenon, through it’s colossal size, denotes that a human is not the main concern when it comes to entering and exiting of this building in the mind of the architect.

The 5th century Greek people played a pivotal role in the shaping of not only the world of philosophy but also the world of art and architecture. Their ideas of humanism, rationalism, and idealism were the things that brought to life the artwork of their time and still effects ours to this day. The Parthenon, with its bulging columns, its repeated ratios, and its colossal size expresses how these ideas formed the structure of the building and then shows how the same ideas brought to form the beautiful pediments and sculptures that give us a deeper insight into the minds and hearts of the Greek people. The Parthenon is truly an elaborate time capsule overflowing with Greek ideas.

Word Count: 1431

Categories: 1

0 Replies to “Parthenon Essay Paper”

Leave a comment

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *