What is a pediment? Greek architecture

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The pediment is the triangular place under the roof of a Greek temple. Each temple has two pediments, one on the front and one on the back. They’re always isosceles triangles. 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.

Temple of Artemis, Corfu (ca. 580 BC)

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.

Temple of Aphaea at Aegina (Shows the Trojan War)

Temple of Aphaea at Aegina (Shows the Trojan War)

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.

Learn by doing: draw a pediment. What sculpture would you put in the pediment?
Triglyphs and Metopes
More about Greek temples

Bibliography and further reading about Greek architecture:

Triglyphs and Metopes
Fluted Columns
Doric Architecture
Ionic Architecture
Corinthian Architecture
More about Greek architecture
Ancient Greece
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By |2017-07-29T09:59:18+00:00July 2nd, 2017|Architecture, Greeks|0 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. What is a pediment? Greek architecture. Quatr.us Study Guides, July 2, 2017. Web. December 16, 2018.

About the Author:

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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