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works of Pericles were not only remarkable for their beauty, which from the very first gave them an air of antiquity (kádde pèv yàp ἕκαστον εὐθὺς ἦν τότε ἀρχαῖον), but also for their durability, which even in Plutarch's time, 600 years afterwards, made them look new, and as if fresh from the chisel. "Such a bloom of freshness, as it were, was there upon them, keeping their face ever untouched by time, as if they were animated by a spirit of eternal youth and undecaying vitality” (οὕτως ἐπανθεῖ τις καινότης ἀεὶ ἄθικτον ὑπὸ τοῦ χρόνου διατηροῦσα τὴν ὄψιν, ὥσπερ ἀειθαλὲς πνεῦμα καὶ ψυχὴν ἀγήρω καταμεμιγμένην τῶν ἔργων ἐχόντων). Sixteen centuries later, wrote Sir W. Gell: "The Temple of Minerva Parthenos is, without exception, the most magnificent ruin in the world, both for execution and design. Though an entire museum has been transported to England from the spoils of this temple, it still remains without a rival."
But this is far from being the only way in which it has suffered. When Alaric, king of the Goths (A. D. 396), captured Athens, it is probable that her public buildings were much injured and despoiled. Moreover it is recorded that Justinian (A. D. 550) removed columns from the city to the church of St. Sophia at Constantinople; though it is not stated that either injured the Parthenon. But at last, when in the 6th century Christianity had displaced Paganism, it was converted into a Christian church, dedicated to the 'Ayía Zopía or Divine Intelligence, and covered with a roof and cupolas. (Leake i. 62.) A portion of the pronaos (at the east end) was pulled down to make room for the apsis or circular termination of the church. (Museum of Class. Antiq. i. 355. Penr. Plate 3.) In after times the Turks erected a mosque within the temple dedicated to the Panaghia, and described by Spon and Wheler (i. 82) as “la grande Mosquée, qui était autrefois le Temple de Minerve," and which as we may suppose was built and repaired from its materials. Hence, in 1675, the centre of the eastern pediment was one large void, and S. and W. found that all its sculptured figures had fallen down, "excepté une tête de cheval marin." But greater damage still was done to it in 1687. The city then held by the Turks, was besieged by the Venetians, and a shell, thrown from the opposite hill of the Museum, exploded in the middle of the 'cella,' almost wholly levelled its walls, threw down five of the pillars of the peristyle on the north, and six on the south side. (Wilkins' Atheniensia, 114.) A model of it in its then state may be seen in the British Museum. Subsequently it has of course suffered partly by time, and partly in the present century by sieges during the war of the Greeks against the Turks, as well as by removals of its fragments. On the other hand, the present Greek government has excavated considerably more
than half of the whole Acropolis (Penr. 2), and cleared away the rubbish from the temple, the original plan and dimensions of which are described by Col. Leake (Top. of Athens, 332-338) as follows:
"It consisted of a onkós or cella, surrounded with a peristyle, which had 8 Doric columns in the front, and 17 in the sides (counting those at the corners double). Hence it was technically described as Peripteral Octastyle. These 46 columns were 6 feet 2 inches in diameter at the base (6.251 from fillet to fillet. Penr. 10), and 34 feet in height (34-253 = 1 of height of pediment 49 = 14 of breadth of front. Penr. 13). They stood upon a pavement or stylobate composed of 4 steps resting upon a rustic basement of ordinary limestone. The entire height of the temple, from the upper step of the stylobate to the cymatium of the top of the pediment was 59 127 feet, or 7 of the breadth of the west front, which measured on the upper step 101.341 English, or 100 Greek feet. The total length on the top of this step was 228.141 feet." "Within the peristyle at either end there was an interior range of 6 columns, of 5 feet in diameter (5.402. Penr. 10, 14), and 33 feet high, standing before the end of the cella, and forming a vestibule to its door (H and M, the IIpóvaos and Posticum). There was an ascent of 2 steps. into these vestibules from the peristyle. The cella, 62.5 feet broad within, was divided into 2 unequal chambers, of which the western, called also the opisthodomus (O), was 43 feet 10 inches long, and the eastern, or Naós (P), 98-04 feet, separated from the opisthodomus by a transverse wall more than 3 feet thick. The ceiling of the former was supported by 4 columns, 4 feet in diameter at the base," supposed to have been Ionic, like those of the corridor of the Propylaea.
The Naos, or Parthenon proper had in the interior 2 flank rows of fluted Doric columns, 10 on each flank, with 3 in the western return. The full diameter of these was 3.656 feet; the number of their flutes 16 instead of 20, the usual number in Doric columns, probably because being in the interior of the building, but little light fell on them. From Wheler's account of them as they still remained in 1676 (Stuart's Athens, ii. 25), there can be no doubt (says Mr. Penrose, 5), that like those in the Temple of Neptune at Paestum, they were surmounted by an upper range of pillars of the same order, to which their entablature served as a sort of stylobate. A beautiful example of this arrangement was also exhibited in the Temple of the Olympian Zeus at Agrigentum. (Uned. Antiq. of Athens, v. Plate 2.) The peristyle was originally protected by a solid marble roof, but with regard to the covering of the Naos nothing is really known or determined. Mr. Stuart, and others agree with him, concluded from various circumstances that the two internal ranges of VOL. I.
columns divided it (the Naós) into three aisles, of which the two next the walls alone were roofed, and that in the centre exposed to the heavens (in' aiopías), or as Vitruvius, iii. 1, c. 22, says, medium sub divo est sine tecto. If so, the roof of the side aisles must have rested on the upper and shorter tier of the columns. We may observe, by the way, that a hypaethral temple is clearly alluded to in the story of Pausanias (Thucyd. i. 133) retiring into a small chamber attached to the Temple of Athena Chalcioecus, that he might not suffer from being exposed to the air (ἐς οἴκημα οὐ μέγα δ ἦν τοῦ ἱεροῦ ἐσελθὼν, ἵνα μὴ ὑπαίθριος ταλαιπωροίη).
Another point connected with the Parthenon, on which earlier writers fell into error, has subsequently been cleared up. From the description of it in Pausanias (i. 24. 5), and the fact of the western end being turned to its great portal, the Propylaea, it was formerly supposed that this was the entrance or principal front of the building. But it is now agreed by the best authorities that the principal front faced the east, as is the case with most of the existing temples in Greece. Each of the fronts was surmounted with a pediment (acrós), the triangular flat or gable ends of which (the tympana) were filled with statues and sculptured groups, placed symmetrically on each side of a central group or figure. From the fragments which still remain, combined with some drawings (of which there are fac-similes in the British Museum) taken for the French Embassy by Jacques Carrey, in 1674-1678, the subject of the western pediment has been clearly made out to be the contest of Athena with Poseidon for the dominion of Athens, the central figures of which have been described "as the most beautiful group left us from antiquity." An admirable restoration of the whole composition is given in the Museum of Classical Antiquities (i. 402), as designed by Prof. Cockerell, whose sculptured pediment of St. George's Hall, Liverpool, approaches somewhat in general character to that of the western pediment, and exhibits (says Mr. Falkener) "one of the finest pedimental groups of modern times." In the same work (353), is a reduced fac-simile of Carrey's drawing of the eastern pediment, exhibiting the centre as one large void, from which however Mr. F. (402) has developed a beautiful but conjectural restoration, representing the birth of Athena from the head of Zeus. This was the subject of the original, as we are informed by Pausanias (i. 24. 5), and Mr. F. supports his views with much learning and ingenuity, but the data for its reconstruction are so insufficient, that all attempts to re-produce its details and treatment can only be considered as speculative, however ingenious.
Nor was the sculptured ornamentation confined to the pediments.
The metopes also, i. e. the intervals between the Doric triglyphs of the exterior entablature, were filled with sculptures in high relief, representing for the most part subjects connected with Athenian history, and exhibiting a succession of 92 groups, 14 on each front, and 32 on each flank of the temple. Those on the south side related (except nine) to the contest between the Centaurs and the Lapithae. Fifteen of them are now in the British Museum, and they are described in the Elgin and Phigaleian Marbles, i. 144-146. In those of the northern flank a female figure frequently occurs, and hence it is supposed that they related to the wars of the Amazons.
Those of the western front appear to have represented the warlike achievements of the Athenians, especially against the Persians; while those of the eastern, like the pedimental group above, related to Athena. (Leake's Topog. 336.) Under each metope of this eastern front, and upon the architrave, were also hung shields of gold, as appears by impressions on the wall, with inscriptions between them, the traces of which are still visible in the holes for the letters. (Wordsworth, Athens and Attica, 98; Penr. 13.) A fragment of one of the metopes may be seen in the vestibule of the University Library at Cambridge.
A still more elaborate series of sculptures embellished the interior frieze (Zwpópos) which ran along the outside walls of the cella, and within the colonnade formed by the columns of the peristyle. They comprised an entire length of more than 500 feet, forming, as a connected subject, the most extensive piece of sculpture in Greece." It represented the Panathenaic procession celebrated every fifth year at Athens, on its way to the Acropolis, to place the sacred 'peplus' round the statue of Athena Polias, and dedicate it to the goddess. (Wordsworth, 105.) Of the whole frieze, the British Museum possesses an extent of rather more than 249 feet, with plaster casts of more than 76 feet in length, of which an excellent description is given, accompanied by illustrations, in the Elgin and Phigaleian Marbles, 11. 165–230. The figures have the most varied character, arrangement, and costume: "the procession," says Dodwell (Greece, i. 387), "appearing as if it had been summoned to meet in the dead of the night, and every person had put on those parts of his dress which happened to present themselves at the time." The whole composition has elicited the admiration of all who have examined and written upon it. The horses especially are of exquisite beauty; and the sculptor Flaxman (Lect. iv. 104) expressed himself thus enthusiastically upon them: "The horses in the frieze in the Elgin collection appear to live and move, to roll their eyes, to gallop,
prance, and curvet; the veins of their faces and legs seem distended with circulation; in them are distinguished the hardness and decision. of bony forms, from the elasticity of tendon and the softness of flesh. The beholder is charmed with the deer-like lightness and elegance of their make; and although the relief is not above an inch from the background, and they are so much smaller than nature, we can scarcely suffer reason to persuade us they are not alive."
But the great wonder and chief ornament of the Parthenon was the celebrated statue of the goddess, forty feet high, executed by Pheidias himself, in what was called chryselephantine, i.e. gold and ivory work. This stood in the eastern or principal chamber of the cella, and traces of its pedestal (R), and the step and railing which surrounded it, are still visible. Pausanias (i. 24. 7) and Pliny (H. N. xxxvi. 5, 4) inform us that the statue represented the goddess standing upright (τὸ ἄγαλμα τῆς ̓Αθηνᾶς ὀρθόν ἐστιν), with a tunic reaching to her feet, a Medusa's head in ivory (originally gold) on her breast, a spear in her right hand, and a 'Victory' four cubits high in her left. The crest of her helmet was finished by a sphinx, and the sides were ornamented with griffins. At her feet lay her shield elaborately embossed on both sides with figures in relief, and the rest or lower end of the spear was supported by a dragon, the shaft and head being united by a sphinx in bronze (Plin. l. c.) The pure (aπe0ov) gold on the statue, &c., all of which was removeable (πeрiaiρeτòv åñav), weighed, as Thucydides affirms (ii. 13), not less than forty talents, and other writers make it more. The face, feet, and hands were of ivory; the eyes were inlaid gems. (Plato, Hipp. Major, § 23.) Further details are given in the Elgin and Phigaleian Marbles, i. 136, 137, and in the Dict. of Biog. s.v. Pheidias. A presumed restoration of the statue, according to the ancient authorities, is also given in Mr. Quatremère de Quincy's Jupiter Olympien, p. 266, and in Mr. Lucas' admirable model of the Parthenon at the British Museum.
Two other statues of the same goddess on the Acropolis were the Athena Promachus and the Athena Polias.
The first was the ἡ χαλκῆ ἡ μεγάλη Αθηνα (Demos. F. L. § 309), the Athena of bronze, the great Athena, of colossal size, with helmet, spear, and shield, placed on a lofty pedestal on the N.W. of the Acropolis, facing the west (Leake i. 349), and to the left of a spectator after passing through the Propylaea. The point of the spear and the crest of the helmet, seen over the Parthenon itself, were visible to the sailor approaching the Peiraeus from Sunium (Paus. i. 28. 2. Leake i. 350), and the position of the statue, as well as its attitude, suggested the idea which the epithets of IIpóuaxos, the