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Parthenon (pär´thənŏn) [Gr.,=the virgin's place], temple sacred to Athena, on the acropolis at Athens. Built under Pericles between 447 BC and 432 BC, it is the culminating masterpiece of Greek architecture. Ictinus and Callicrates were the architects and Phidias supervised the sculpture. The temple is peripteral, with eight Doric columns at each end and 17 on the flanks (46 in all); it stands upon a stylobate three steps high. The body of the building comprised a cella and behind it an inner chamber (the Parthenon proper), which gave the temple its name. At front and rear, within the outer colonnade, were two porticoes, the pronaos and opisthodomos, respectively, with six columns each.

Within the cella a Doric colonnade two tiers high supported the roof timbers and divided the space into a lofty central nave bounded by an aisle on three sides. Toward the west end of this nave stood the Athena Parthenos, the colossal gold and ivory statue by Phidias dedicated c.438 and destroyed in antiquity. The inner chamber, to the west, apparently served as treasury and was entered through a large western doorway. The pediments terminating the roof at each end of the building were ornamented with sculptured groups depicting the birth of Athena on the eastern end and the contest between Athena and Poseidon on the western end. The upper part of the cella walls and the friezes above the porticoes formed a continuous band of sculpture around the building. The friezes traditionally have been said to represent the Panathenaic procession held every fourth year in homage to Athena, but this interpretation of them only dates to the late 1700s; no ancient description of the subject of the friezes survives. Of the 525 ft (160 m) of this sculptured frieze, 335 ft (102 m) still exists. The western portion is now in the Acropolis Museum; the greater part of the remainder, removed by Lord Elgin, is in the British Museum (see Elgin Marbles). Fragments also are in museums in six other countries.

In the 6th cent. the Parthenon became a Christian church, with the addition of an apse at the east end. It next served as a mosque, and a minaret was added to it. In 1687, in the Venetian attack on Athens, it was used as a powder magazine by the Turks and the entire center portion was destroyed by an explosion. The beauty of the Parthenon began to be appreciated in the 18th cent., and in 1762 measured drawings by James Stuart and Nicholas Revett gave strong impetus to the classic revival. After the end of Turkish control (1830), intensive archaeological study of the Parthenon commenced. Numerous attempts have since been made to establish the mathematical or geometrical basis supposedly employed in producing the design's high perfection. Restoration work is still being done.

See studies by P. E. Corbett (1959), R. Carpenter (1970), M. Beard (2003), and J. B. Connelly (2014).

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Parthenon. The C5 bc Greek Temple of Athena Parthenos on the Acropolis in Athens, widely regarded as the most refined building featuring Greek Hellenic Doric architecture, and the model for much Greek Revival work, despite the fact that many details, e.g. the relationships of columns to soffits, are less than satisfactory). The Parthenon had a peristyle surrounding the naos and Virgin's chamber, with seventeen columns on the flanks and eight at each pedimented end. The metopes contained exquisite sculptures, as did the pediments (much is now in the British Museum, London), while subtle optical refinements such as entasis and curved stylobates further contributed to its stature as a canonic work. Within the Virgin Goddess's chamber were four elegant Ionic columns, so in some respects it was a synthesis of Doric and Ionic architecture.


M. Beard (2002);
Chrisp (1997);
Dinsmoor (1950);
Korres (2000)

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Parthenon Temple to the goddess Athena erected (447–432 bc) by Pericles on the Acropolis in Athens. The finest example of a Doric order temple, it was badly damaged by an explosion in 1687. Most of the surviving sculptures were removed by Lord Elgin in 1801–03. See Elgin Marbles;

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Parthenon the temple of Athene Parthenos, built on the Acropolis in 447–432 bc by Pericles to honour Athens' patron goddess and to commemorate the recent Greek victory over the Persians. It was designed by Ictinus and Callicrates with sculptures by Phidias, including a colossal gold and ivory statue of Athene. It remains standing, despite being severely damaged by Venetian bombardment in 1687. (See also Elgin Marbles.)