By Joan Breton Connelly
Inbuilt the 5th century b.c., the Parthenon has been honored for greater than millennia because the West’s final paragon of attractiveness and percentage. because the Enlightenment, it has additionally come to symbolize our political beliefs, the lavish temple to the goddess Athena serving because the version for our such a lot hallowed civic structure. yet how a lot do the values of these who equipped the Parthenon really correspond with our personal? And except the importance with which we have now invested it, what precisely did this surprise of human palms suggest to people who made it?
In this innovative ebook, Joan Breton Connelly demanding situations our most simple assumptions in regards to the Parthenon and the traditional Athenians. starting with the traditional surroundings and its wealthy mythic institutions, she re-creates the advance of the Acropolis—the Sacred Rock on the center of the city-state—from its prehistoric origins to its Periklean glory days as a constellation of temples between which the Parthenon stood ideally suited. particularly, she probes the Parthenon’s mythical frieze: the 525-foot-long aid sculpture that initially encircled the higher reaches ahead of it used to be in part destroyed by means of Venetian cannon hearth (in the 17th century) and so much of what remained was once shipped off to Britain (in the 19th century) one of the Elgin marbles. The frieze’s great enigmatic procession—a fantastic festival of cavalrymen and elders, musicians and maidens—has for greater than 2 hundred years been idea to symbolize a scene of annual civic social gathering within the birthplace of democracy. yet due to a once-lost play by way of Euripides (the discovery of which, within the wrappings of a Hellenistic Egyptian mummy, is just one of this book’s interesting adventures), Connelly has exposed a long-buried which means, a narrative of human sacrifice set through the city’s mythic founding. In a society startlingly preoccupied with cult ritual, this tale used to be on the center of what it intended to be Athenian. Connelly unearths an international that beggars our renowned notions of Athens as a urban of staid philosophers, rationalists, and rhetoricians, an international within which our glossy secular notion of democracy might were easily incomprehensible.
The Parthenon’s complete importance has been obscured beforehand owing in no small half, Connelly argues, to the frieze’s dismemberment. And so her research concludes with a decision to reunite the items, so that what's possibly the best unmarried murals surviving from antiquity can be seen extra approximately as its makers meant. Marshalling a panoramic variety of textual and visible proof, filled with clean insights woven right into a exciting narrative that brings the far away previous to lifestyles, The Parthenon Enigma is certain to turn into a landmark in our knowing of the civilization from which we declare cultural descent.