A lot of the architectural elements of the ancient buildings and their foundations remained on the Acropolis. But the Parthenon is the most beautiful of them. The Parthenon is a monument of ancient architecture, ancient temple located on the Acropolis of Athens, the main temple in ancient Athens, dedicated to the patroness of the city and the whole Attica, Athena-Virgin. The temple is a wonderful sample of ancient Greek architecture. So the goal of this paper is to investigate the architecture of this temple. To achieve this goal, the paper has been organized into several sections, in which architecture, sculpture, paints, marble of the Parthenon etc. will be explored.
The Parthenon in its current form stands on three marble steps (total height is approximately 1.5 m). Peripter is Doric, which has 8 columns on each butt end and 17 columns on each side (if to count twice the corner columns). Height, composed of 10-12 drums, of peristyle columns is 10.4 m. Diameter of the column base is 1,9 m. Corner columns are slightly thicker (1.95 m).
The columns have 20 cannelures (vertical grooves) and taper at the top. Size of the cathedral in the plan (according the stylobate) is 30,9 x69, 5 m. The inner premises of the cathedral, or cella (external dimension is 21,7 x59 m), is raised above stylobate at two levels (total height of 0.7 m) and has a six-column portico at the ends, the columns of which are somewhat lower than in the external colonnade.
Cella is divided into two rooms. Eastern (longer) are called Gekatompedon (inner size 29,9 x19, 2 m), is divided into three naves by two rows of Doric columns (9 columns in each row), which close at the western end by the transverse row of three additional columns.
It is assumed that there was also a second tier of Doric columns, which was located on the first and provided the necessary height of ceilings. Here is a magnificent 12-meter statue of Athena Parthenos (Athena the Virgin), one of the finest works of Phidias. Phidias portrayed Athena in long heavy robes, sticking a spear; her left hand is based on a shield.
Around the spear, at the bottom, the snake wrapped itself as an emblem of wisdom. In her right hand Athena holds the statue of the goddess of Victory. Ornate helmet crowned the head of Athena. The whole statue was performed on a wooden base. It was not made using bronze and marble, as usual, but using pure gold and ivory. Using the same pure gold, Phidias completed clothing and helmet of goddess. Gold plate formed hair and a shield, and sapphires were inserted into eye sockets.
Overlapping areas of western cella (inner size 13.9 x19, 2 m), which was called the Parthenon, was based on four tall columns, presumably Ionian. State Treasury of the Republic and the Athenian state archives were kept in the Parthenon and in time the name was transferred to the whole temple. There was also a room where girls wove the garments which is also called peplos as the gift of the goddess.
All components of the Parthenon, including roof tiles and steps of stylobate, were carved out of the local Pentelic marble, almost white after extraction, but eventually acquiring a warm yellow. Mortar or cement were not used, masonry was dry. The blocks were carefully adjusted to each other, the horizontal connections between them were made with the I-iron braces placed in the grooves and filled with lead, and vertical was created with iron rods.
The decoration of the church, complemented the architecture was divided into three main categories: metopes with high reliefs, or square panels, located between the triglyphs frieze above the outer colonnade; bas-relief, which like continuous band belted cella outside till the top; two colossal group of free-standing sculptures, filled the deep (0.9 m) triangular pediments.
Along the perimeter of the outer walls of the temple at a height of 12 meters famous frieze of the Parthenon stretched like a continuous ribbon. The frieze depicted a procession in honor of the Great Panafiney (big celebration of the goddess Athena). 365 figures of people (young riders, girls, old men with olive branches) and 226 animals have been cut there, none of the figures repeated.
Previously it was thought that the relief friezes depicted scenes from traditional ceremonies of Panafinei’s birthday celebration. According to another version, the frieze of the Parthenon depicted 192 heroes who died in the famous Battle of Marathon against the Persians in 490 BC. 92 metopes show scenes of martial arts: the gods and the giants from the east side, centaurs and lapith (they were preserved very well) - from the south, the Greeks and the Amazons - from the west, members of the Trojan War (allegedly) - from the north. The group from the western pediment represented a dispute for the Attica between Athena and Poseidon, when a gift from the goddess (the olive tree) was considered more valuable gift than a source of salt water, which was opened in the rock by Poseidon. Few statues remained from both groups but it is clear that it was a great work of art in the middle of the fifth century BC. Bas-relief band on top of cella (total length is 160 m, height is 1 m, the height of the stylobate is 11 m. There were approximately 350 infantry and 150 cavalry figures) portrayed Panafines procession annually bringing new attire – peplos for Athena. Moving from west to east horsemen, chariots, citizens of Athens are along the northern and southern sides, and the musicians, people with gifts, sacrificial sheep and oxen are closer to the head of the procession. Groups of cavalry are located along the western face of the wall, above the portico. Some of them stands near their horses, some of them sits on them or goes away (this part of the bas-relief remained in Athens).
A central group of processes is represented at the eastern butt end. It is composed from priests and priestesses of Athens with three young servants. Priest takes the folded peplos. Figures of main gods from the Greek Pantheon are on either side of this scene. They are divided into two groups and turned their faces outward toward the corners of the building, watching the approach of the procession. Next to them, right and left, two groups of citizens or legal persons are presented, and people who lead the process are slowly moving along the edges.
Architectural Features of the Parthenon
The Parthenon’s connection with the nature was expressed not only by proportional ratio of the temple and the hill. Greek architects and sculptors saw that distant objects or parts of them appeared smaller, so they were able to correct the optical distortion. Thus, the head of Apollo from the west pediment of the temple of Zeus at Olympia, designed for contemplation from bottom, seems ugly and deformed directly in front. Optical distortion in the vertical inscription on the temple in Priene also was corrected. The top letters are larger than lower letters, but when you look at the inscription from position below it seems that all they are of the same size. Careful architectural measurements of the Parthenon showed that lines of building are not straight and the surfaces are not flat. They are slightly curved.
Ancient architects knew that strictly horizontal line and a flat surface seem bending in the middle from a distance. They strove to correct and change this impression. So, for example, the surface of levels of the Parthenon gradually, almost imperceptibly, increases from the edges to the center. Stylobate increases slightly towards the center. The front surface of the entablature is somewhat tilted outward, and the surface of gable is tilted inside. Corner columns of butt end facade are slightly inclined to the middle, and the middle two columns are inclined to the corners. If anyone mentally continue axis of corner columns, they will cross each other at high altitude. This destroys the effect of the optical illusion. A number of vertical lines appear somewhat expanding.
It is also noteworthy that the columns of the Parthenon are not all the same thickness. The angular columns were made thicker than the others, because they must seem somewhat thinner, silhouetted against a light background. Later, the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius said: “corner columns are absorbed by ambient light”. One of the Greek treatises noted that: “cylinder seems compressed in the middle; it should be slightly thickened to avoid this impression”. Diameter of corner columns, which are visible in the sky, is bigger than others, and in addition, they represent a complex figure in cross section that is different from a circle. It is possible that this explains entasis, i.e. a thickening of the Greek columns.
Making the curvature of the surface of the steps, moving the column, making them different thicknesses, the creators of the temple corrected distortion, which disturbed the harmony of the building and hindered to feel its plasticity. That is why the builders moved the staircase leading to the main steps of the Parthenon, a little to the north, toward the man, going up to the temple from the Propylaea. When you look on the Parthenon from the angle of the curvature of stylobate, convex in the center, is well combined with the curvature of the stairs. The second columns of the inner line of the portico of the Parthenon are smaller than the outer columns, and it seems that they stand further and the portico is deeper than it really is.
Deviations from the horizontals and verticals are almost invisible. Nevertheless, they are important because they contribute the integrity and collectedness of the church. All of visible lines are connected to each other, there is none which is not intersected and seemed alienated from each other. As in a plastic human body it is impossible to find a straight line in the Parthenon. Very complicated design construction of a large number of building blocks and components is not perceived as building composed of individual elements, but it seems the "live", plastic body, like embodied in Greek sculpture fine athletes.
Marble is a material that also makes this impression of plastic body. By the time of building the Parthenon Greeks have known and appreciated this wonderful stone, realizing how good marble captured light and absorbed it by surface, resembling to the human body by of tenderness. Till the Parthenon temples were erected mainly with coarse porous stone, i.e. limestone which after completion was covered with a layer of marble plaster. The Parthenon was built with marble. Of course, some parts of it were made of wood. Metal was used for bonding marble blocks, but marble was the basic material.
Near Athens, in the mountains of Pentelikon deposits of good white marble were found. Tiny iron particles that are in it, appeared on the surface after processing. In contact with moisture in the air, they gradually oxidized and formed a uniform layer, and sometimes spotted a beautiful, golden patina. The snow-white coldish stone absorbing the moisture of air became warm. This ability of processed marble to react on light and surrounding air strengthened the connection of the building with nature.
Colorationof the Parthenon
Marble slabs of the Parthenon had not only beautiful covered with a patina surface but painted in some parts in bright, sonorous tones. In the Archaic period, when the temple was built of coarse material, they were plastered and then painted so that the paint covered the surface of the material. The paint performed a dual role. It concealed rough surface of limestone and gave brilliance, brightness for a temple. Paint covered also sculptural works of the Archaic period by a quite thick layer. In the classical period, the principles and methods of coloring have changed. Colored wax was superimposed on marble by a thin layer. Wax gradually under the influence of heat permeated the stone, staining but not hiding like in the Archaic era its surface. Marbles became colored, not losing most valuable qualities such as luminosity and tenderness.
Of course, not all marble slabs of the Parthenon were painted. Elements of the building, constructive role of which it was necessary to emphasize, were highlighted. Shaded by cornice triglyphs were covered in blue paint, metopes were covered in red. Vertical plates of the pediment also were painted. Gilding was also used. The lower surface of echinus (extensions on the capitals of the columns) was red as taenia (zone between the architrave and frieze). Red and blue colors were used on the underside of the cornice. Marble caissons of colonnade overlapping were shaded in red, blue, and gold or yellow.
Color was used in order to underline the elements of sculpture. Bronze wreaths were also used in the decor of the building. The holes drilled in the architrave for its mounting evidenced it.
Columns of the Parthenon
Columns of the Parthenon are divided by vertical grooves referred to as cannelures. They make less noticeable horizontal joints between the individual parts (drums) of column. Marble is particularly light and beautiful in their sharp edges. The shadows of the edges emphasize the verticality of the columns and their harmony. Compared to the fluted columns smooth trunk is perceived as lifeless and distant. The grooves can take a feeling of isolation from column, connect it to the air, and revive the impression of it. As the gaps between the columns of the temple passed the external space to the temple, so deepening cannelures enter the space in the volume of the column and merge building with nature.
Seven centuries after the construction of the Parthenon had passed when Roman Emperor Hadrian in villa Tivoli near Rome created construction intentionally small to appear tall and strong for himself. And, however he did not feel the greatness, disappointment, and skepticism did not leave him. A person who intends to climb the steps of the Parthenon, visible from a distance, approaching it, discovers that they are huge in size, and there are smaller stages opposite the entrance. The temple rises in all its height, but it has so harmonious proportions, similar to human body, that it does not diminish a person, it does not make him smaller, but, on the contrary, elevates and evokes the feeling of high esteem. The architectural forms of the temple show high value and endless possibilities of men. Therefore, the Parthenon will be a magnificent work of art forever.