February 12, 2014
Fah207 Greek and Roman Art
Lecture 6 Parthenon Overview and Greek Vase Painting c.600 –c.400BCE
Reconstruction of the Pediments
Pediments also called gables. Full 3D sculptures with a theme and narrative placed on
pediment after the Parthenon was built, overseen by artist Phidias. Have some drawings
done in 1700s done by a French traveler. On the west is the competition btw Athena and
Poseidon over the lordship of Athens. On the east is the birth of Athena. Central part of
birth of Athena wasn’t there when he drew it, it was damaged. West pediments
competition abt who is going to be patron god of the city, Athena and Poseidon
competed, Poseidon struck his trident in the ground and produced a salt water spring and
Athena produced an olive tree. Olive wood and oil is far more important in Greek world.
Form of triangular pediments strict and guide sculpture.
Demeter, Persephone and Iris/Artemis on the left. Conservative drapery.
Standing figure rushing most likely Iris messenger goddess bringing news of what’s
going on in the center the birth of Athena. Zeus had a headache, Hephaestus split his head
with an Axe and Athena came out with her armour, looks like a miniature adult.
Hestia, Dione and Aphrodite.
On the right side, Hestia probably hearing something. Dione in some sources is
Aphrodite’s mother, loosely dressed the most sensual figure on the Parthenon and
exposed shoulder. Comparison from left to right through the drapery, which becomes an
excuse to elaborate on the body beneath.
Showing off sensual curves in her body, drapery providing interesting pattern to distract
us from what we see and to accentuate.
Dionysus (or Herakles)
Youthful without beard, reclining perhaps enjoying himself in the symposium. Reclining
on drapery that looks like animal skin either lion or panther. Panther skin=Dionysus god
of wine and theater or Lion= Heracles. During the symposium there are cups that have
eyes on them when drinking them makes drinker look like he’s wearing a mask,
characteristic of Greek theater. Figure holding up something, usually reconstructed as a
wine cup. Heracles also known to enjoy drinking so not sure which it is. Heracles is not
one of the 12 Olympians although he did join the reign of the Olympians after his death
became immortal only hero to gain that status. Dionysus more likely.
Personification of River Ilissos, West Pediment
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Flowing nature of water looks more feminine, less musculature. Personification
phenomenon of making something that is not human into human form. For example
justice as a female form holding a balance.
Heracles + Chariot
Chariot with figure of son god Helios driving chariot rising coming into view into frame
of the Parthenon shown on east bottom left side. Appropriate for that corner which has
On the opposite side, she is going down depicts dawn, sunrise. East tells us exactly what
time it is and when looked together with surviving pieces central act of Athena her birth.
Figures at the very end are unaware of what is going on such as Aphrodite and Dionysus.
Persephone receiving news from Iris.
Sculptural Program as a Whole
Cult statue: giant depository of wealth her drapery is in gold part of it could have been
melted down for use in the city. She is the virgin goddess name of Parthenon comes from
On base is birth of Pandora, holding figure of Nike. Nike figures on aphroteria toping the
gabe. Small temple to Athena Nike towards the right as you come up.
Athena promacus giant statue greeted ppl entering main gate and was seen from the main
Messages repeated= victory over the Persians reinforced by all the Metope sculptors
which we have on all four sides that have dichotomy btw the good and the bad.
East Pediment shows birth of Athena how she came to be the patron deity of the city.
Origin of the City how Athena becomes so important to them and abt boasting. bragging
of the city. Because of Athena won.
Ionic Frieze, most likely Panathenaic Procession. Celebrating birth of Athena every year
in August. Celebration of humans Athenians immortalized with Olympian gods all on
same register democratically cant tell one person from the other none is more important
then the others.
OVERALL MESSAGE OF THE BUILDING PROGRAM
Humanistic principles of 5th C BCE Greece (Protagoras)
Civic / Hellenic Pride (Pericles Funeral Oration)
Positivistic attitude of logic / numerology (Pythagoras / Polykleitos)
Glory to Goddess, patroness of Athens
Function as a religious Temple as well as Civic Treasury
SOME THEMES IN THE SCULPTURAL ENSEMBLE
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Repetition message of victory and superiority
Order vs Chaos
Victory over the Persians
Historical/Mythical foundation of Athens
Cult and ritual, past present and future
Has at least 3 cellas and porches. Looks like not designed all at once. Building held
sculpture of Athena. Ionic order, dated to abt 1020yrs after the Parthenon
Erechtheon Athena, north porch from the east
Maidens that were slaves taken from carae and was placed there but instead they are
more like Athenian maidens like priestesses who are in service to Athena. Their drapery
looks heavier, conservative then what is seen with group of Aphrodite. Lines and folds of
the drapery, she is standing in for the column. Notion of human beings enacting
Ponderation one leg is free the other bears the weight of the tablature. Symmetrical
divided by two in two
Temple of Athena Nike
Small temple, Ionic. 4 columns in front and back not a peristyle it’s called a tetrastyle
cuz there are 4 columns. Used to have a balustrade where sandle binder comes from right
next to Doric structure, heavy gateway. Parthenon had both Ionic and Doric features.
Nike by Palonios from Olympia, 420
Wet drapery style. Nike rushing towards and landing, bellowing drapery sticking to her
body, whatever is in the back is providing a backdrop for the form of her body, one leg is
bare. From the base there is a inscription stating it was dedicated. Symbol of everything
that has to do with Greek excellence, Olympic games and victory.
Holding palm leaf, wings spread, holding drapery give 3D feel.
Aphrodite of Knidos by Praxiteles Roman copy of ac 350 BC marble Greek original
Changed all of female statue history by making first nude Aphrodite in all of Greek
history. Praxiteles was commissioned to make a cult statue for island of kos he did so in
nude modeled after his mistress. When he unveiled it for island of kos. Neighbouring
island of Knidos was so happy that they wanted the statue for themselves.