The Parthenon Enigma

The Parthenon Enigma

Joan Breton Connelly

Language: English

Pages: 512

ISBN: 030759338X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Built in the fifth century b.c., the Parthenon has been venerated for more than two millennia as the West’s ultimate paragon of beauty and proportion. Since the Enlightenment, it has also come to represent our political ideals, the lavish temple to the goddess Athena serving as the model for our most hallowed civic architecture. But how much do the values of those who built the Parthenon truly correspond with our own? And apart from the significance with which we have invested it, what exactly did this marvel of human hands mean to those who made it?

In this revolutionary book, Joan Breton Connelly challenges our most basic assumptions about the Parthenon and the ancient Athenians. Beginning with the natural environment and its rich mythic associations, she re-creates the development of the Acropolis—the Sacred Rock at the heart of the city-state—from its prehistoric origins to its Periklean glory days as a constellation of temples among which the Parthenon stood supreme. In particular, she probes the Parthenon’s legendary frieze: the 525-foot-long relief sculpture that originally encircled the upper reaches before it was partially destroyed by Venetian cannon fire (in the seventeenth century) and most of what remained was shipped off to Britain (in the nineteenth century) among the Elgin marbles. The frieze’s vast enigmatic procession—a dazzling pageant of cavalrymen and elders, musicians and maidens—has for more than two hundred years been thought to represent a scene of annual civic celebration in the birthplace of democracy. But thanks to a once-lost play by Euripides (the discovery of which, in the wrappings of a Hellenistic Egyptian mummy, is only one of this book’s intriguing adventures), Connelly has uncovered a long-buried meaning, a story of human sacrifice set during the city’s mythic founding. In a society startlingly preoccupied with cult ritual, this story was at the core of what it meant to be Athenian. Connelly reveals a world that beggars our popular notions of Athens as a city of staid philosophers, rationalists, and rhetoricians, a world in which our modern secular conception of democracy would have been simply incomprehensible.

The Parthenon’s full significance has been obscured until now owing in no small part, Connelly argues, to the frieze’s dismemberment. And so her investigation concludes with a call to reunite the pieces, in order that what is perhaps the greatest single work of art surviving from antiquity may be viewed more nearly as its makers intended. Marshalling a breathtaking range of textual and visual evidence, full of fresh insights woven into a thrilling narrative that brings the distant past to life, The Parthenon Enigma is sure to become a landmark in our understanding of the civilization from which we claim cultural descent.

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beloved, the god inaugurated the Hyakinthia festival. King Amyklas buried his son directly beneath Apollo’s cult statue, the base of which took the shape of an altar.109 Upon entering through the bronze doors of the temple, worshippers first made offerings upon this altar/base to the dead hero Hyakinthos before sacrificing to Apollo himself. According to Pausanias, the venerable cult statue of Apollo was aniconic (not unlike Athena’s old olive wood image at Athens). It consisted of a great

Treasures of the Parthenon and Erechtheion, 1–8, 81–103, 253, and Hurwit, Athenian Acropolis, 161–63. 53. Pedersen, Parthenon and the Origin of the Corinthian Capital, 11–31, fig. 16; Korres and Bouras, Studies for the Restoration of the Parthenon, 1:20; Korres, “Parthenon,” 22. On the origin of the Corinthian order, see T. Homolle, “L’origine du chapiteau Corinthien,” RA, 5th ser., 4 (1916): 17–60; Rykwert, Dancing Column, 316–49. 54. Vitruvius, Ten Books of Architecture 3.4.5, for optical

Press, 1998. Steinbock, B. “A Lesson in Patriotism: Lycurgus’ Against Leocrates, the Ideology of the Ephebeia and Athenian Social Memory.” Classical Antiquity 30 (2011): 269–317. Steiner, D. T. Images in Mind: Statues in Archaic and Classical Greek Literature and Thought. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2001. Steinhart, M. “Die Darstellung der Praxiergidai im Ostfries des Parthenon.” AA (1997): 475–78. Stewart, A. Review of I frontoni arcaici dell’Acropoli di Atene, by F. Santi.

1.2 self-image of self-sufficiency of in Sixth Ottoman-Venetian War, prl.1, 3.1, 3.2, 5.1, 5.2, epi.1, epi.2, epi.3 social classes in treasury of Athenian League tribes of, 2.1, 3.1, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 7.1 tribute to, 3.1, 3.2 Visigoths’ plundering of water supply in, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.1 wildlife of Athens-Lamia National Road Athens Schist athletic games, prl.1, prl.2, 1.1, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 3.2, 5.1, 5.2, 6.1, 7.1, 7.2 see also Olympic Games; Panathenaia: athletic contests in

subsequent Greek instance is known … The flagrant breach with tradition requires explanation.”52 To be fair, some scholars have argued for a mythological interpretation, but no known myth could be adduced that adequately fit the images. Already fifty years ago, Chrysoula Kardara read the central panel of the east frieze as a representation of the inauguration or first Panathenaic festival, an overall approach that makes very good sense, though she did not have the benefit of the surviving text

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