The Parthenon

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The Parthenon
Work began on the Parthenon, built on the Acropolis, in 447 BC to replace an existing temple which was destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC and cost 469 silver talents to build. The work began under the orders of Pericles to show the wealth and exuberance of Athenian power. The name of the building most likely came from a cult statue of Athena Parthenos housed in the eastern room of the building. This magnificent structure was built of ivory and gold and was sculptured by the renowned sculptor Phidias. As with most buildings on the Acropolis it was dedicated to Athena to thank the Goddess for their success. The Parthenon was finally finished in 432 BC and was to show the world the dominance and power of Athens. The vast majority of the money used in the construction came from the Delian League funds. The Delian League was a treaty between the Greek states in league against the Persian Empire. However two years before work started on the Parthenon, the Athenians had struck a peace treaty with the Persians ending the war, although the League continued to exist. It is believed that because of this the league stopped being a mutual defence against Persia but part of the Athenian Empire. This theory was reinforced when Athens moved the Leagues treasury from the Pan-Hellenic sanctuary at Delos to the Parthenon (Opisthodomos room). Not only was the Parthenon a magnificent structure to look at, but it also showed Athenian dominance over the rest of the Greek peninsula and that Athens was its Greek imperial master. The five main instigators of the design and construction on the Parthenon were Pericles, Phidias, Kalamis, Ictinus and Calibrates. Pericles was the leading Athenian statesman at the time, Phidias and Kalamis were in charge of the design of the sculptures and decorations, and Ictinus and Calibrates were the main architects. The vast majority of the 469 silver talents spent on the Parthenon went on transporting the stone from Mount Pantelakos, which was about 16 kilometres from Athens, to the Acropolis. It is thought there are around 13400 stones in the building. The Parthenon is a clear example of Doric design with Ionic architectural features. The architects used a clever visual effect in their design of the building. The curvature of the Stylobate, the taper of the Naos walls (housing the cult statue) and the Entasis of the columns allow the visual effect to make the temple appear more symmetrical than it actually is. This design was so renowned it has been copied centuries later, even the Romans incorporated it into the design of their buildings, and a good example of this can be seen at the Roman library at Ephesus. Measured at the top step, the dimensions of the base of the Parthenon are 69.5 meters by 30.9 meters (228.0 x 101.4 ft). The Cella was 29.8 meters long by 19.2 meters wide (97.8 x 63.0 ft), with internal Doric colonnades in two tiers, structurally necessary to support the roof. On the exterior, the Doric columns measure 1.9 meters (6.2 ft) in diameter and are 10.4 meters (34.1 ft) high. The corner columns are slightly larger in diameter. The Stylobate has an upward curvature towards its centre of 60 millimetres (2.36 in) on the east and west ends, and of 110 millimetres (4.33 in) on the sides. Inside the Cella it was made up of both old and new elements. There was a double pi-shaped colonnade which held the statue Athena Parthenos. The statue showed Athena dressed in full armour holding Nike (Goddess of Victory) to the Athenians in her right hand. In the west room (Opisthodomos) were 4 Ionic columns. The two sloped wooden roofs had marble tiles with false lion shaped spouts in the corners and false palmette shaped antefixes running along the edge. The room also held large marble statues placed on corner pediments, which were adorned with depictions of Athena's life. The East Pediment showed Athena's birth from Zeus' head whilst the Olympian Gods watched. The West pediment portrayed the...
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