A219 Exploring the Classical World Essay
Look at the Illustrations Book, Plate 16: Athens: Parthenon. South metopeXXXI. Lapith and centaur. 447–439 BCE (1.3 x 1.3 m). In no more than 500 words:
(i) briefly provide the context of this sculpture
(ii) discuss the ways in which its subject matter conveyed a political message to Athenian viewers
Metopes were situated on the outside of the Parthenon building they are high reliefs carved into rectangular slabs placed over the columns. There are 92 Metopes on the Parthenon building, which relate to four different myths. The Parthenon itself is a Temple dedicated to the Goddess Athena built on the Acropolis in Athens. Metope XXXI found on the southern side of the Parthenon believed to depict the Centauromachy the mythical battle between Centaurs and Lapiths. The mythical Lapith king invited the Centaurs to his wedding. Where the Centaurs got drunk and tried to abduct the bride as well as the other Lapith women. The Lapiths fought off the Centaurs and were victorious. (Art the Parthenon http://www.ancientgreece.com/s/Parthenon/)
The Parthenon erected during the 440s- 430s’BCE was the largest of the temples on the Acropolis it was a classic Doric design which incorporated some Ionic architectural features. Even though a very impressive structure it housed the equally impressive Statue of Athena Pathenos made with Ivory and Gold, and had a separate room housing a treasury. It did not hold the most sacred image of Athena, which was a statue made of olivewood, which was within the Athena Polias Temple. This is where the Panathenaic procession ended in the early fifth century. Before the Erecthion was completed in 406 BCE (A219, DVD 2, Section3, Tracks 2-3) The other subjects of the metopes are The Trojan War, Greeks verses Amazons and The Gods verses Giants. An overall theme of order that the Greeks would prevail against non-Greeks (block2 part 2 p79) The Parthenon dominated the Acropolis and seen from afar it showed off the power of Athens their military prowess and the dominance of Athens over the rest of the Greek-speaking world and beyond. (Art the Parthenon http://www.ancientgreece.com/s/Parthenon/) The Parthenon was part of Pericles’ building program funded by the treasury of the Delian League, which it housed when it was completed. The political message conveyed by the subject matter of metope XXXI and the Parthenon, as a whole was one of superiority over their barbarous enemies. It portrayed barbarians non Athenians/Greeks as not having any morals, self-restraint or the ability to have reasoned rational thoughts or discussions. (OCC, p111-112) Centaurs and Amazons had become the epitome of barbarian forces who opposed the cultural and political ethos, which was predominant in Athens at that time. (OCC, P148-149). The housing of the treasury of the Delian League within the Parthenon cannot be ignored either, It made it into a civic as well as religious building. The Delian League formed in 478 BCE against the constant threat of Persian attack. Athens did not control the funds from the formation of the league in 478 BCE they seized the opportunity to do so soon after. (BHAG, p139-140). . Athens then transferred the funds from Delos in approximately 454BCE to Athens. Athens showing its prominence to the world was also a nationalistic exercise, forging a common link among Athenians and other Greek speaking states. Bibliography
Art the Parthenon, (2012 January 10) Retrieved January, 10, 2012 http://www.ancientgreece.com/s/Parthenon/)
Hornblower, S. and Spawforth, A. (eds) (1998) The Oxford Companion to Classical Civilization, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
(A219, DVD 2, Section3, Tracks 2-3)
Pomeroy, S.B., Burstein S.M., Donlan W. and Roberts, J.T. (2004) A Brief History of Ancient Greece: Politics, Society and Culture, Oxford: Oxford University Press
“The Athenian artistic performances and displays of the fifth century BCE were...
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