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Lecture 3

Lecture 3 - High Classical Period, Late Classical Period, and Greek Urbanism

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Christina Katsougiannopolou

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FAH207 Lecture 3 MAY22/2012
The High Classical Period (450-400 BC)
- The Rise of Athens as the most powerful Greek city-state: Athens leads the Delian League, an alliance of Greek
city-states against the threat from the Persians.
454 BC Athens transfers the treasury of the Delian League to Athens; the Delian League becomes an
Athenian Empire
- The Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC): Athens vs. Sparta
“…was an unmitigated disaster…Athens’ evolution toward a unified Aegean state collapsed; Greece
would never become a nation-state” - I. Morris, B. Powell, The Greeks. History, Culture and Society
(Prentice Hall 2009) p. 337
- Athens: intellectual and artistic center of Greece
Later became the most powerful city-state, esp. after the Persian War
Victory over the Persians gave Greeks immense pride
- Athens was a maritime city-state and gradually developed their navy
After the Persian War, the money they got from the allies meant for future expedition in defense against
the Persians (Delian League money), ended up becoming tributes funding for Athens’ building program
- Under Perikles, the Athenians launched an unprecedented building program in order to restore the city’s
religious center, the Acropolis, that had been destroyed during the Persian Wars
Building Projects on the Acropolis under Perikles
(1) Pathenon (447-432 BC)
(2) Propylaea (437-432 BC)
(3) Temple of Athena Nike (ca. 420-410 BC)
(4) The Erechtheion (ca. 4303-406 BC) named after a mythical King
- These building projects were funded by the monies Athens’ allies were forced to supply.
- According to Plutarch. , not everyone was pleased about the building project, mainly the rest of Greece and
Perikles’ enemies. This was because Athens used the League’s money to fund the project
- No other city-state had the ambition to go through a building project or had sufficient supply of money to fund
such a huge project
- The architects of the Parthenon were Iktinos and Kallikrates, while the sculptural decoration was supervised by
- Plan of the Parthenon has a strict proportional system has the ratio 4 : 9
Opted for a wide façade not elongated (?) ratio of the colonnades became 8 : 17 rather than the
usual 6 : 13
A more compact building
- Parthenon: not a traditional temple no altar at the front
Combines Ionic and Doric elements
Intentional pride themselves for their Ionian heritage while living in a Doric territory
Back chamber has ionic columns
Jacques Carrey (1674): drawings of the Pathenon’s pediments
The metopes depicting Lapiths and Centaurs from the south side
92 metopes decorated the architrave, most of them lost forever; on the other sides, the themes
of Gigantomachy (east), Amazonomachy (west), and Greeks vs. Trojans (north)
East Pediment: Birth of Athena
Zeus in the center, Hera and Hephaestus on the left, Athena and Poseidon on the right
Further to the left: Artemis, Demeter and Kore, Dionysus and Helios
Further to the right: Hermes, Amphitrite, Apollo, Hestia, Aphrodite, and Dione
West Pediment: Contest between Athena and Poseidon
- None of Pheidias’ original works has been preserved. The sculptures on the pediments and the frieze of the
Parthenon probably reflect Pheidias’ style that scholars have defined as “the Parthenon style”.
It is typical of Attic sculpture of the last 40 years of the 5th c. BCE.
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