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Democracy and Imperialism Discussion Forum 2013-4

Democracy and Imperialism Discussion Forum 2013-4 British Museum visit and Parthenon Sculpture discussion

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  1. We'll be looking at the practicalities of viewing the Parthenon, i.e. from entering the Acropolis act the individual pieces of art.
  2. *Key Points about Periclean Building Programme * *Erechtheion:* · The Erechtheion was a temple dedicated to Athena and Poseidon on the North of the Acropolis. The most famous features were the Caryatids which were six finely-sculptured figures of women in the porch used instead of pillars. · The building was made entirely of marble, with friezes of black limestone. The windows and parts of marble would have been painted, gilded and highlighted with gilt bronze and multi-coloured inset glass beads. It is important to remember that it would have been far more vibrant and prominent. · Work on the building did not start until 420/1 (9 years after Pericles’ death) and it was not completed in 406 BC. · The architect was possibly Mnesicles · The overseer and primary sculptor was Phidias · The name Erechtheion possibly derives from Erechtheus a mythological Athenian King who was raised by Athena · It was built to house the Palladion (wooden structure of Athena) *Reception/ Legacy * · Damaged by fire about a decade later but repaired in the 4th century · In the 6th century AD it was converted into a Christian church, · A small palace under the Franks · 15th century a harem for a Turkish governor. · 19th and 20th century excavations and restorations took place * *
  3. My notes for my 30 seconds on the East Pediment, if anyone wants them... The Parthenon – East Pediment The Old Parthenon, started after the battle of Marathon (490-488) was still unfinished when it was destroyed in the second Persian invasion of 480 BC. The treasury was moved by Pericles from Delos to Athens in 454 BC. This means that seven years’ worth of tribute from the allies flooded into the Athenian treasury before construction even began, enabling the funding of such a monumental building project. The New Parthenon, to which this pediment belonged, was built on the ruins of the old, starting in 447 BC.Structurally sound by 436All sculptures and decorative features finished by 432 The construction occurred during the Periclean building programme, marking a period of imperial and expansionist policy A year after it was completed, the Peloponnesian war broke out (431)It could be argued that upon its completion, Athens as a city reached its peak in terms of both artistic output and its imperial image The sculptures of the East Pediment we see before us have been credited to Phidias, but some consider that such an output of sculpture was impossible to come from one man, so work is also credited to the students of Phidias As we can see, very little of it remains: if it were not for a reference in Pausanias, we would not even be certain as to what the central subject would have been. However we now know that the subject matter is the birth of AthenaWe know that the central sculpture was absent from as far back as 1674 when French painted Jacques Carrey made drawings of the Parthenon The sculpture, like the rest of the building, is made entirely out of Pentelic marble The East Pediment, depicting the birth of the city’s patron goddess, is the first section of a continuing narrative told by the Parthenon sculptures
  4. *Reactions to the Parthenon - summary* ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- *Original took around 10 years to build, but replacement was built very quickly* - visible change for people of Athens - symbolic of a new era, Athenian power, peace and prosperity *Largest ever temple built on the mainland* - establishing Athens as architecturally important (comparison with very powerful Sparta, with limited building projects) - size as very important indication of importance, consider how big it was to others on the Acropolis - symbolic, overcoming hard times, renewed confidence (and ego!) *Built on 'hilltop of the gods' next to 'healing spring'* - were these associations made before or after the Parthenon took over the Acropolis? - religious place *Illusion of column shape, and use of the golden ratio* - subtle perfection, viewers not quite knowing why it is different to other temples - appropriate given how important it was set out to be, and how expensive it was *East pediment: birth of Athena* - association with Athens, birth, or perhaps re-birth at this time of the city - divine 'history' of Athens *West pediment: contest for patronage of Athens* - city is fought over by Athena and Poseidon: elevation of Athens, divine importance over other cities - each holds their relevant symbol, olive-tree and trident: importance that people know their gods' symbolism
  5. Notes on ‘Viewing the Parthenon’ The friezes are impractically placed for such intricate pieces of art - the outer columns obscured them somewhat, and meant the viewer had to either crane their necks to see, or view the procession with pillars constantly blocking your line of sight. It's also worth noting that it was perhaps unnecessary to go to the extent of detail to which they did, due to the frieze's positioning, but this just reinforces Athens' skills and vast wealth as a result of Marathon and the subsequent Persian invasion. The Parthenon itself would've dwarfed the majority of the Acropolis, particularly when entering from the Propylaea. The sheer size and imposing nature of the building would've been a reminder of Athens' military powers and vast wealth. The west pediment would be the first approached and probably the standout piece of art on the temple as you approached it from the Propylaea. Because it depicted Athena and Poseidon battling for patronage it is an immediate stamp of Athenian national pride and of dedication to the patron Goddess, put ostentatiously on the largest building on the acropolis. As a visitor, Athens religious heritage would be impossible to ignore. this also links to... Approaching the Parthenon you’d have to pass the statue of Athena Promachos too, which would have been to your left. It was colossal, bronze and was too made with the spoils of the Battle of Marathon. Both this and the Parthenon towering over you from either side stood as huge reminders of Athenian military strength. Also worth mentioning that the frieze, the metopes and the pediments would all have been painted. We’re viewing it clean white; it would have been very colourful which to our tastes today may seem tacky and garish, but it was really the only way of making any detail visible from any distance. however, I have also been told that the carving at the top of the friezes was deeper to create bolder indents, enhancing the image and helping to view the details. The Parthenon is certainly to be seen as a fusion of different elements of Athens, combining religious, military, and political depictions and functions to create arguably the epicentre of the cultural centre of Athens. A reinforcement of Athens power on a national level is also present, as the temple incorporates both Doric and ionic stylings. The Ara Pacis is one of the more notable examples of using the Parthenon as inspiration, as it too combines elements of it's allies/territories, and fuses many areas of the culture of Rome, which the Parthenon does for Athens.
  6. *Building Design, Layout and Architecture* Will, Daisy & Meriel * Dimensions of the base of the Parthenon are 69.5 metres by 30.9 metres (228.0 x 101.4 ft). * The cella was 29.8 metres long by 19.2 metres wide (97.8 x 63.0 ft), with internal colonnades in two tiers, structurally necessary to support the roof. * On the exterior, the Doric columns measure 1.9 metres (6.2 ft) in diameter and are 10.4 metres (34.1 ft) high. The corner columns are slightly larger in diameter * The Parthenon had 46 outer pillars and 23 inner pillars in total. The roof was covered with large overlapping marble tiles known as imbrices and tegulae. * Doric peripteral temple, which means that it consists of a rectangular floor plan with a series of low steps on every side, and a colonnade (8 x 17) of Doric columns extending around the periphery of the entire structure. * The larger of the two interior rooms, the naos, housed the cult statue. The smaller room (the opisthodomos) was used as a treasury * The columns lean inward, called entasis, and would meet 5000m above floor level. This effect is unnoticeable when viewing the Parthenon and it will appear perfectly square. If the columns were vertical they may seem weaker, as if the roof would squeeze and push the columns outwards and fall to the floor. Additionally, the inward tilt of the columns was used in buildings before the Parthenon and thus was a commonly understood practice. Compare to the Temple of Apollo at Aegina, Olympia's Temple of Zeus, and Tegea's Temple of Athena Alea * The stylobate is the platform upon which the temple stands, and though it appears horizontal, it curves upward in the middle. 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. In practical terms this has the function of shedding rain water.
  7. If anyone's interested in following up on what Elliot and I were saying about the Southern Metopes, the article I focussed on was Tarbell (1920) in the American Journal of Archaeology. Title was something about centauromachies and amazonomachies. That suggested there was no reason to call them "anti-Persian". Johnson (2005) "Persians as Centaurs in Xenophon's Cyropaedia" was what I used to prepare the other side of the argument.
  8. North Metopes notes

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  9. Thomas and I were presenting on the Western Frieze, and I dont think we touched on the topic of the placement of the frieze. This isnt really specific to the western part of the Frieze, but the whole Frieze in general. The frieze is situated very high up on the walls of the Parthenon. The detailed carvings therefore must have been rather difficult for casual observers of the time to see. What then was the point of the sculptures if no-one could see them, especially when they would have ultimately been overshadowed by the architrave above them when the temple was intact? I have a theory that as the temple was ultimately built as the temple of Athena, the frieze and other high-up sculptures may have not necessarily been intended as subjects of viewing by people, but more of a private gallery for the eyes of the gods, for their viewing pleasure.
  10. East Frieze defiunietely leaves us with more questions than answers. It presents 12 gods,clearly identifiable by their attributes, a number of men and in the centre a ''peplos scene''. The men could be the Eponymous Heroes of the Athenian tribes, representative citizens or Athenian magistrates, but they cannot be clearly identified. The ''peplos scene'' in the middle is probably the most controversial piece of the whole frieze. Most people think it depicts the handing of the peplos for Athena from a child of unknown sex and identity to a man, probably Archon Basileus (chief religious magistrate). To the left there are girls carrying stools with cushions on their heads and probably a priestess of Athena. The meaning of this is unknown. It might have been clear in antiquity, but it is also possible that a deliberate ambiguity was left in the image.

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