Pediments in Ancient Greek Architecture - Ancient Greece answers questions


greek temple with pediment
Greek temple with a pediment (Sicily)

The pediment is the triangular place under the roof of a Greek temple. Each temple has two, one on the front and one on the back. At first pediments were probably plain, but soon the Greeks began to decorate pediments with stone sculpture. One of the earliest pediments, on the temple of Artemis on the island of Corfu, has a scary Medusa on it.

pediment from corfu
Temple of Artemis, Corfu (ca. 580 BC)

Later Greek sculptors put whole scenes on pediments, usually one exciting part of a well-known myth. The Parthenon has the story of the birth of Athena on one side, and the story of Athena and Poseidon fighting to be the main god of Athens on the other side.

The tricky thing about pediments was what to put in the little angles of the triangle at the sides. On the pediment of the temple at Corfu, the sculptors have Medusa standing, then animals who are lower, and then teeny little people in the angles. On the Archaic temple at Aegina, the sculptors had fallen soldiers lie down in the angles.

Temple of Aphaea at Aegina (Shows the Trojan War)

Triglyphs and Metopes
Fluted Columns
Doric Architecture
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Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

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