The magnificent temple on the Acropolis that Athens, known as the Parthenon, to be built in between 447 and also 432 BCE in the golden e of Pericles, and it was specialized to the city"s patron deity Athena. The temple was created to home the brand-new gold and ivory cult statue the the goddess by the grasp sculptor Phidias (also Pheidias) and also to proclaim come the civilization the success that Athens as leader the the coalition of Greek pressures in the Persian Wars. The cult statue, begun in 447 BCE and dedicated in 438 BCE, would stay the an excellent city"s symbol because that a thousand year until, in so late Antiquity, it disappeared indigenous the historical record, possibly taken come Constantinople and also there later on destroyed. Fortunately, copies and representations, the most complete being the second century CE "Varvakeion statuette", the the statue and some of its sculptural details, together with descriptions by Plutarch and also Pausanias, permit us to fairly accurately rebuild its initial appearance.

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Materials & Dimensions

The name Parthenon derives from among Athena"s countless epithets: Athena Parthenos, an interpretation Virgin. Parthenon way "house that Parthenos" which was the name given in the fifth century BCE come the chamber (cella) within the temple which housed the cult statue, and also from the fourth century BCE the whole building acquired the surname Parthenon.


Although richly decorated on the external with magnificent decoration, the most important sculpture was always intended to it is in the huge statue that Athena inside it.

Although richly decorated on the exterior with magnificent decorative sculpture, the most crucial sculpture was constantly intended to it is in the large statue the Athena inside it. Indeed, there is evidence that the holy place was built to measure in order to accommodate the chryselephantine (gold and ivory) statue that Athena by Pheidias. The sculptor was already famous for his colossal copper statue of Athena Promachos i beg your pardon stood on the acropolis and was apparently visible native Cape Sounion, and also he was commissioned by Pericles to produce a statue worthy that the best city in Greece and also its patron deity.

The Athena Parthenos was, then, a large statue which, according to Pliny, was approximately 11.5 metres high (26 cubits) and was make of carved ivory because that flesh parts and also gold (1140 kilos or 44 talents of it) for whatever else, all wrapped about a wood core. The gold parts could additionally be quickly removed if important in times of financial necessity. Extra embellishments were rendered making use of glass, copper, silver, and also jewels. The is estimated the statue cost the city around 5,000 talents, a truly vast sum of money which make it an ext expensive than the building costs that the Parthenon itself.

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The Varvakeion Athena
Mark Cartwright (CC BY-NC-SA)

The statue stood on a pedestal measure up 4.09 through 8.04 metres, confronted the east door, and also was surrounded by the Doric columns of a peristyle set inside the cella. In front of the statue, sunk into the flooring, to be a big but shallow tank that water. This had actually the double benefit of showing light right into the chamber and maintaining a moist atmosphere to ideal preserve the ivory. The cut in the temple floor in which the main support column of the frostbite was placed is still clearly shows today.

Sculptural Decoration

The statue stood for Athena stand majestic, completely armed and also holding a 4 cubit tall statue that Nike in her appropriate hand. Athena wore a peplos which was tucked into a belt. She organized a big circular shield in she left hand i beg your pardon rests on the floor. She additionally has a spear on she left side, and also a large coiled sacred snake resided in between her feet and also the shield. On her triple-crested helmet stand a sphinx and also two griffins through Pegasus wing either side; griffins also decorated the cheek-pieces. ~ above the goddess" chest was the snake-tasselled aegis given to her by Zeus v the head of the gorgon Medusa in ivory. The political parties of Athena"s sandals were decorated with the mythical fight between the centaurs and also Lapiths. The base of the statue shown scenes of the birth of Pandora, watched over by the most necessary gods the Mt. Olympus.