The Construction of the Parthenon
Comparative Essay of Two Articles
Ratte, Christopher. “Recreating the Parthenon.” The Classical World 97 (2003): 41-55
Stevens, Gorham P. “Concerning The Impressiveness of the Parthenon.” American Journal of Archaeology 66 (1962): 337-338
During the 5th century BC, classical Greece was flourishing. The society created both art and architecture that was magnificent and complex. One of their crowning achievements was the construction of the Parthenon. This structure is now one of the enduring symbols of ancient Greece and is considered by some to be the high point in Greek architecture and construction. Both Christopher Ratte and Gorham Stevens discuss how the Parthenon was built and go in the detail about the different aspects of the foundation and the column structure used. The two articles do not contradict each other but they do focus on different aspects of the construction. Gorham P. Stevens’ article discusses one of the reasons why the Parthenon looks so impressive to viewers. He mainly focuses on the how the foundation of the Older Parthenon was used in the new construction, and Stevens explains the reasoning for the slant in the foundation, “ the Parthenon was designed to look its best from the propylon leading into the area in front of the west façade. From the Propylon the ancient Greeks had their first unobstructed view of the temple- a most important point of view indeed” (338). Stevens states that the Greeks wanted the structure to be seen over the south wall of the Acropolis, so they made the foundation slant in order to do so. Stevens supports his statement of the structural slant by providing exact calculations in Figure 5 as proof. He also mentions that this was a purposeful element of construction stating that people at that time had good leveling instruments and could have easily made the base of the structure level. He uses both the “Principles of Athenian Architecture” by Penrose and...
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