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Thread: The Parthenon

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    ☥ Self-proclaimed Tree Hugger, Yogi wannabe, spiritual Celtaur's Avatar
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    This post has been inspired by this thread on Phi

    Quote Originally Posted by Haruth View Post
    The first recorded mention of the value, is by Euclid (c. 300 B.C.E.), but it appears in more ancient architecture: the Pyramids of Gizeh, certain ancient Egyptian temples, and the Parthenon to name but a few.
    You had me curious on the parthenon... I found a great site for this and many other architectural wonders and much more.











    The Parthenon is one of the best known architectural symbols of any civilization. Built in the 15 year period between 447-432 BC this ancient Greek temple was designed as a replacement for a temple destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC. To build a temple of this size (101 x 228 ft.; 30.9m x 69.5m) in that short a timeframe was considered amazing but what was even more amazing was the quality of construction and finishing, which was superb. The leading politician of the day and the man behind the construction project was Pericles. According to Plutarch, the great Greek biographer writing centuries after the building was completed; one of the main reasons for the construction of the Parthenon and the other temples which surrounded it was the need to deal with growing unemployment. By embarking on a major public works program for the acropolis (the towering hill in Athens where the Parthenon and other temples dedicated to the gods were located) Pericles hoped to provide jobs for ordinary Athenians- carpenters, stonemasons, ivory-workers, painters, enamellers, pattern-makers, blacksmiths, rope-makers, weavers, engravers, merchants, coppersmiths, potters, shoemakers, tanners, laborers, etc.


    At the same time and more importantly, he envisioned the Parthenon as an architectural masterpiece that would make a statement to the world about the superiority of Athenian values, their system of governance and their way of life. Because of this, only the best building materials were good enough- the finest stone, bronze, gold, ivory, ebony, cypress-wood- and the best artists and craftsmen. It was to be a building for the ages. In a funeral oration delivered in 430 BC Pericles expressed his pride in the city of Athens and there seems no doubt he was thinking of the Parthenon when he noted that “Mighty indeed are the marks and monuments we have left. Men of the future will wonder at us, as all men do today.”

    The new construction project was not welcomed by everyone. There were some who were outraged that so much money was being spent on the construction “gilding and beautifying our city as if it were some vain woman decking herself out with costly stones and thousand talent temples”. Many were also upset that the monies to build the Parthenon were being supplied, reluctantly, by Athenian allies who had originally handed over this money for use in any future conflict against the Persians. Pericles argued that as long as the Athenians honored their commitment to defend these allies against Persian aggression, then the allies had nothing to complain about. And the majority of people supported Pericles. In fact his most vocal opponent was ostracized (banished for ten years) by a popular vote leaving the way clear to proceed with construction.


    The Parthenon building program was carried out under the general direction of Pericles himself. He chose three men at the top of their professions to collaborate on the design and execution of the project. Although we don't know everything that each did, it seems that Ictinuswas the chief architect, Callicratus acted as the project contractor and technical coordinator while Phideas was responsible for overseeing and integrating all artistic elements. He also personally created the enormous gold and ivory sculpture of the city goddess and produced some of the various sculptural groupings while supervising the production efforts of a small army of artists and craftsmen. Phideas was recognized at the time as being the greatest sculptor of his era but is acknowledged now as the greatest Greek sculptor of all time. The collaboration of the threesome was an enduring success.


    There is no denying that the Parthenon construction project was expensive. (The cost, according to public accounts engraved in stone, was 469 silver talents. Attempts to translate that into a modern equivalent aren't entirely satisfactory.) The main building material was Pentelic marble quarried from the flanks of Mt. Pentelikon, located about 10 mi/ 16 km from Athens. (The old Parthenon, the one destroyed by the Persians while it was partway through construction was the first temple to use this kind of marble.) The huge pieces of stone had to be hauled to the building site by oxcart. This structure was, by no means, the largest but what distinguishes the Parthenon from most other temples is the quality and extent of the sculptures. Many of the sculptures were made of the more expensive Parian marble, from the island of Paros, which most sculptors proclaimed the best kind of marble for their work. As a collection that shows Greek art at its zenith the Parthenon marbles (sculptures) are simply without peer.


    The building itself is a work of art incorporating a number of aesthetic refinements calculated to make it appear as visually perfect as possible. Knowing that long horizontal lines appear to sag, even though they are absolutely straight, horizontal elements were deliberately curved and the vertical columns “fattened” in the middle to compensate for the vagaries of the human eye. This thickening in the middle made it look as though the columns were straining a bit under the weight of the roof, thus making the temple less static, more dynamic. Although the lines and distances in the Parthenon appear to be straight and equal, the geometry has been altered to achieve that illusion. It has been said about this building that “nothing is as it appears”.


    The Parthenon is a Doric temple, which artfully incorporated selected Ionic features to produce a building that many, including some of the world's top architects, have called perfect. The Doric style uses thicker columns and has a more massive appearance (sometimes called masculine) than the Ionic (feminine) style. This may have been a politically inspired choice by Pericles, symbolically uniting Greeks of Dorian and Ionian backgrounds in one transcendent building.


    The Parthenon is classified as a peripteral temple, that is, the perimeter of the structure is defined by columns, in this case by eight on the narrow ends and seventeen on the long sides, for a total of 46 columns. Sitting inside the exterior columns is a raised stone platform. This supports the floor-to-ceiling walls of a shoebox-like room called the Cella or Naos. In traditional temples this is a single room but in the case of the Parthenon, the Cella has been divided into two rooms. In the larger one, a huge standing statue of Athena was located, resting on a support slab. In front of the statute…a reflecting pool. In the smaller room, with the four interior columns, was kept the state treasury, including cash gifts to the deity. The collection of interior columns was necessary to support the roof that, like the rest of the building, was made of marble.
    much more on this article here >

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    Initiate Haruth's Avatar
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    Thanks for that Celtaur

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    Neophyte Lillith's Avatar
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    Thank you for taking the time to post this.. The parthenon has always intrtigued me. Why they built it, how many, the uses. Thank you for the post . I would have like to seen the beautiful structures at the time they were being constructed, or would I?
    To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don't grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.
    Alan Watts

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    Apprentice Klasien's Avatar
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    Depends on from what position??

    Interesting post, Celtaur. I'll take the time to read it later on!
    ...
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