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Parthenon frieze - seated goddesses

Parthenon frieze – seated goddesses

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.

A scene from the Parthenon frieze

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

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.

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. This gave Phidias a chance to show off how well he could show the movements of the horses and the men. The idea of keeping horses under control emphasizes the battle of order over chaos, just like on the metopes.

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!
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