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Parthenon frieze - seated goddesses

Parthenon frieze – seated goddesses

What is on the Parthenon frieze?

On the Parthenon’s frieze, Pheidias carved a long procession of Athenians, with girls in the front, bringing a new dress for the goddess Athena to her temple.

What is a frieze?
The Parthenon
Classical Greek architecture
Athens in the Classical period
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A scene from the Parthenon frieze

A scene from the Parthenon frieze: bringing the new dress for the goddess



A new style of carving

Most of the carving was done in a beautiful new style, where all the figures moved very gracefully, and the clothes were floating and very thin, almost transparent, so that you could see all the muscles and tendons of the women wearing them.

Classical Greek sculpture
More Greek sculpture
Ancient Greek clothing

Horses and their riders

Young men ride horses on the Parthenon frieze

Young men ride horses on the Parthenon frieze

Another part of the Parthenon frieze showed the rich young men of Athens riding their horses. The horses are excited to be in a parade, and the young men are trying to keep them under control.

Where do horses come from?

This gave Phidias a chance to show off how well he could show the movements of the horses and the men.

Order and chaos

The idea of keeping horses under control emphasizes the battle of order over chaos, just like on the metopes.

Order and chaos
Rhythm and Greek temples
The Parthenon’s metopes
Greek art history

Learn by doing: build a model of the Parthenon in Lego or on Minecraft
The Parthenon blows up!

Bibliography and further reading about the Parthenon:


A Greek Temple, by Fiona MacDonald, Mark Bergin (2002) (this is specifically about the Parthenon, not just any Greek temple)

Parthenon, by Lynn Curlee (2004). Easy reading. Lovely pictures.

The Athenian Acropolis: History, Mythology, and Archaeology from the Neolithic Era to the Present, by Jeffrey M. Hurwit (2000). This is not a children’s book, but it is pretty interesting reading. Hurwit is a archaeologist and art historian who works on the Athenian Acropolis.

Take our quiz – how much do you know about the Parthenon?
The Parthenon blows up! home