The Parthenon and its Architecture Descriptive Essay by Research Group

The Parthenon and its Architecture
An overview of the architectural details and history of this great Athenian building.
# 27472 | 1,507 words | 6 sources | MLA | 2002 | US

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The Parthenon (447-32 BCE) was a crowning glory of Athenian civilization of the classical era and, what is more important, it was intended as such at the time. Thus, nearly 2,500 years later, it is possible to view the building as incorporating all of what the Athenians saw as beautiful, sacred and of civic importance in architecture. The paper shows that as its overwhelming position and the nature of its sculptural decoration make clear, it was the focal point of the religious-civic identity of the Athenian polis. The paper describes how the Parthenon housed the great statue of Athena Parthenos, was the main building in the complex of temples dedicated to the gods on the sacred rock of the Acropolis, depicted some version of the most important Athenian religious ceremony (the Panathenaic procession and festival) and loomed over the city as a reminder and a promise of Athenian greatness.

From the Paper:

"But there was also a contradiction in being expected to achieve the perfection of the Doric order on a much larger scale, for which adjustments had to be made to the greater number of columns. As Boardman points out, however, the wider facades lent the building a "reassuring breadth which is enhanced by the way its proportions then seem to match those" of the Acropolis on which it stands (112). But this breadth might have been oppressive in its effects if the architects had not devised a means of avoiding too great a visual equivalence between the rock and the temple. Their solution was a very subtle curvature of the stylobate, and the rest of the floor, which is also reflected in the entablature. This also affects the columns which "lean slightly in while the upperworks [that they support] lean slightly out" (Boardman 112). This gives the entire facade a "pyramiding movement" to which all the external lines contribute; ever so subtly, therefore, the columns' inward inclination lends itself to a slight triangular effect that is enhanced by the surmounting pyramid of the pediment (Martin 292)."

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