Ancient Greece: The Parthenon Temple

By: April Carson


The Parthenon was a temple in Athens, Greece constructed during the fifth century BC and used for religious purposes by citizens of that time. It was dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena Parthenos. The temple served as both an architectural marvel displaying advanced sculpture techniques which were not widely known at that point but would later become commonplace among Greeks after their return from Asia Minor following defeat by Persia (499-494 BCE). Many ancient writers credit this country's artistic achievements largely due to influences they received while living there).


The Parthenon was a rectangular building with just one row of columns on all sides. The Doric columns were the most basic form of ancient Greek column; eight stood along each end of the structure, with 17 down the longer sides. It was built over a large flat platform with three steps and originally contained several small statues, possibly of Parthenos, which are now in the British Museum in London.


The Parthenon is thought to have been originally covered with a roof made from wood and marble tiles fixed onto beams fixed into the columns by clamps. This roof was supported at its highest point by an additional pair of columns. Like mentioned before, the Parthenon was dedicated to Parthenos, the patron goddess of Athens. She was an ancient Greek deity and the Parthenon stood on the site where her birth was said to have been announced by a bird called the Parthenos; thus Athena Parthenos.


It was made by Parthenon architects Ictinus and Callicrates using white Pentelic marble from an old quarry on Parnes Mountain. It was built between 447 B.C.E and 438 B.C.E. in the Doric style. The Parthenon, when it was built, was one of the largest temples in Greece at 96 by 30 meters and was built on a stylobate of three steps.


What was the Parthenon used for?


The Parthenon was originally designed as a temple and other uses, such as housing the goddess' treasury.


The main purpose of the Parthenon was as a temple for Athena, virgin goddess and patroness to Athens. The building’s very name means "the virgin's place" in Greek according to Columbia encyclopedia. UNESOC designating it World heritage center calls Acropolis itself sacred because it was Parthenon.


The Parthenon's most vital purpose in its early years was neither aesthetic nor exclusively religious, however; it was a concept of Pericles' that the structure represented Athens itself at "the height of its power." Having concluded the Persian Wars, Athens had emerged as the preeminent power in what is now Greece, with a regional empire at its back and a fleet at its command.


Why is the Parthenon so special?


The Parthenon is very unique since it is the symbol of Athens democracy, which was established after the city's capture from the Persians in 480 BC. It was constructed to commemorate Athens' military, commercial, and cultural dominance following its victory against the Persians in 480 BC.


It is also unique for the richness and quality of its sculptures. The Parthenon has been praised for its beauty throughout history. It features a frieze that is at the base of the outer wall, which shows sculptures about the Battle of Gods and Giants as well as other Greek myths.


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