Sculpture of the Parthenon

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1. Parthenon Sculpture

The Parthenon, or the Temple of Athena Perthenos, sits at the top of the Acropolis in Greece, dating 447-438 BCE, and can be viewed as an ideal Greek temple in the Doric design. Designed by Iktinos and Kallikrates, the proportions of the temple are considered perfect, and the Parthenon was decorated more extravagantly than any other Greek temple (Gardner, 70), adorned with sculpture and friezes along both pediments, and all 92 Doric metopes, presenting many classic elements of Greek sculpture, and standing tall as a symbol of Greek, but especially Athenian strength.

One of the most important themes showcased in the Parthenon can be seen in Phidius' sculpture of Athena Parthenos, or the statue of the virgin Athena, which stood over 38 feet tall, made of gold and ivory, portrayed holding her shield, spear and helmet as well as the winged Nike in her outstretched hand, representing the victory over the Persians in 479 BCE. Athena stood triumphantly in the cella, adorned lavishly with images of Greek victory emblazoned on the souls of her sandals, and the inside and front of her shield, portraying the Greek defeat of the centaurs, Amazons, and giants. These scenes all stand as strong metaphors for the triumph of Greek "order over chaos, of civilization over barbarism, and of Athens over Persia (Gardner, 71)."

The Doric metopes carry this theme along again, depicting a battle between Lapiths and centaurs. In one expansive part of the frieze, a centaur rises victoriously over a defeated Greek man. The contrast between the two figures is stark; the sculptors captured the respective life and death of the figures flawlessly. This interaction represents the difficult fight the Athenians have endured and the lives lost in the pursuit of their victory.

Along the East pediment, Athena's birth is depicted, and along the West pediment, the battle between Athena and Poseidon over the deification of Athens. Eventually the people of Athens chose...
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