Athenian Acropolis Essay

Submitted By rachelewalley
Words: 1703
Pages: 7

The Athenian Acropolis was a Herculean feat of creation. The grandeur and immensity of this place in that time was awe inspiring. It was established to honor the goddess Athena, the gods, and the people of Greece. Over centuries the condition of the Acropolis has degraded in the hands of different occupiers and wars resulting in destruction to the buildings and the displacement of its many sculptures. Today, the Grecians battle economic devastation they attempt to continue to honor their past by revering a pinnacle of human art and history. The debate surrounding whether or not to return pieces separated has sparked worldwide interest. A large majority of the missing pieces reside in the collection of the British Museum of History, and were attained rather illicitly in the mid-nineteenth century. Historians and architects argue whether the Parthenon marbles should be returned or remain were they are. I would like to see the pieces returned to complete many of the severed sculptures and friezes. The British Museum houses an incredible array of art preserving man’s history and culture. The British Museum defends the acquisition of the Athenian Marbles by touting their availability to be seen by many visitors discovering world history while at the same time being preserved and protected with the best that fortune can buy. Is this a case of ‘all or nothing’, or can a compromise lead to mutual agreement for the betterment of all?
Athens derives its name from the Greek goddess Athena. In the tales of the ancient Greeks, the goddess Athena (who had sprung from the head of Zeus, fully clothed and armored) entered a contest with Poseidon, the God of the Sea, for the honor of being the patron saint of the finest city in Greece. King Cecrops, Greece’s first king, would decide who could provide the better gift to the people of the fine city. Poseidon, with a mighty blow from his trident, struck the Acropolis creating a salty spring (now known as the sea Erekhtheis). Athena bested this gift with a sapling which grew into the greatest tree in Greece: the Olive(Hamilton 393). From this the people derived sustenance, fuel, trade and shelter. She is the great protector and the bringer of wisdom and peace. The Parthenon was dedicated to her because she was known as Parthenos, the virgin(Hamilton 394). The Parthenon was built between the years ca. 447-432 BCE in the Doric order by the architects Iktinos and Kallikrates. This temple was built to house a giant 40-foot statue of the goddess Athena. The decorative aspects of the Parthenon consist of a set of 3 sculptures: the frieze, the metopes and the pediments. The metopes and the frieze are part of the actual structure, being carved directly into the stones of the existing structure. The metopes are high relief additions that surrounded the building. Each of the four sides depicted grand and heroic scenes: the north side portrayed the Trojan War and the south side illustrated the Greeks engaged in battle with the Centaurs; Olympian gods fighting giants adorned the east and on the west Greeks warred with the Amazons(Swindale). There were a total of 92 metopes in prominent display. Along the inner row of columns laid the frieze. The frieze consisted of 160 meters of low relief depicting an intricate portrayal of a procession leading to the Temple during a Panathenaic Festival. Of these original 92 metopes, Athens retains thirty-nine while fifteen are in London at the British Museum. Of the original 115 frieze panels only 93 exist intact: the British Museum has fifty-six panels, the Louvre in Paris has one, while only thirty-six remain in Athens(Swindale). This incredible structure, representing the philosophical foundation of a culture from which the inspirational wisdom of democracy sprung; having survived the weathers and ravages of millennia, now faces its ironic adversary: man’s propensity toward greed and petulance. It is for this very reason that many would…