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Exploration of the Parthenon Sculptures: from the Physical and Historical Perspectives

2020-05-21 来源: 51Due教员组 类别: Essay范文

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下面51due教员组为大家整理一篇优秀的代写范文- Exploration of the Parthenon Sculptures: from the Physical and Historical Perspectives,供大家参考学习。这篇文章将对这些雕塑的遗存进行更深入的研究,以便更好地了解古希腊、民主的起源和西方文明。观察将按放大到细节的顺序进行,从表面发现艺术作品的深层含义。从研究寺庙的物质环境,到雕塑的形式,再到具体的内容,最后是其背后的历史文化背景。

 

Exploration of the Parthenon Sculptures: from the Physical and Historical Perspectives

1. Introduction

 

The Parthenon is a temple located on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece. It was built in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at its peak of glory. The temple was built to praise the patron of the Athens people, goddess Athena. Parthenon is one of the most significant monument that represent the culture of ancient Greece. The construction of the Parthenon took nine years, follow by six years of decoration, which makes the temple not only significant in the architectural area, but also in the aesthetics features. The density of sculptures in the Parthenon is higher than any other historical monuments from the ancient Greece. In addition to the large numbers and extravagancy of the sculptures, the quality of the sculptures is also the finest representation of Greek culture. In the essay, a closer look into the remains of the sculptures will be taken, to have a better understanding of Ancient Greece, the origin of democracy and western civilization. The observations will be made in the order of zooming in to the details, from the surface to discover the deeper meanings of the art works. From studying the physical context of the temple, to the form of the sculptures, then to the specific content and finally the historical and cultural context behind them.

 

2. Physical Context of the Parthenon

 

The design of the Parthenon represents the highest architectural standards of the Ancient Greece. The inner decoration is even more complex. According to figure 1, there are 8 columns each on the east and west sides of the temple, and 17 columns on the south and north sides. the east and west pediments are as high as 19 meters. With a length of 70 meters and width of 31 meters, it has two pediments on the east and west. The many ratios in the structure involves the application of the Golden Section. Each of the pediments are decorated with large sculptures that celebrates the achievements of Athena. There are also sculpture decorations of the Doric metopes that cover all the frieze above the columns on the outside, as well as on the Ionic frieze in the exterior walls. There is also a statue of Athena made by the famous Greek sculptor Pheidias himself. The Parthenon functioned not only as a temple for memorial purposes, but also as a treasury, which explains the richness in its decoration. Despite the glories in centuries ago, there are very little of the sculptures that remain in the temple. Most of the sculptures that survived the wars between the Greeks and the Turkish and Roman armies are now kept in museums in London, Paris, Rome, Vienna and Palermo.

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Figure 1. The Plan View of the Parthenon and Arrangement of Decoration

 

3. Form and Style of the Marble Metope

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Figure 2. Marble metope (South) from the Parthenon: A Centaur is restrained by a Lapith.

 

There are 92 metopes contained in the frieze of the Parthenon. Fourteen on both the east and the west side, and the rest on the south and north. There are multiple styles and higher degree of variations among the metopes. In comparison, the style and form of sculpture in the frieze and the pediment are much more cohesive. There are several hypotheses about it. One possible reason for the variation is that not all the sculptures were made together. A small portion of it could be made prior to the completion of the Parthenon and a change of style occurs afterwards. Another theory is the improvement in craftsmanship and sculptor skills. In general, the sculptures on the south and west are more obvious in the variation of styles. From the head of the figures, it is seen that the metopes sculpture follow the Severe Style. The physical movement of the figures are only to the contours, instead of to the muscles. While there are a few sculptures that remain on the metopes, most are destroyed during the wars. Figure 2 shows a sculpture on the south metope. It depicts the battle between Centaurs and Lapiths with a Lapith restraining a Centaur by the head. Although the head of both the characters are missing, the fineness of the sculpture work can be seen through the proportion of body parts, the lines of defined muscles of the Lapith, as well as the motion expressed in the sculpture.

 

4. Content of the Pediments

The large amount of sculptures in the Parthenon contains rich characters and plots. There are sculptures that capture the festival celebrations: joyful young man, beautiful young maiden, players of instruments and priests that oversee the festive activities. There used to be a statue of Athena that is 12 meters tall in the Parthenon. The statue is made of wood and carefully designed so that it could be moved and hidden. The statue captured a standing figure of Athena with her spear leaning on the shoulder and shield by her side. Her helmet and robe were made of gold, and her face and arms were carved out of ivory. In 146 A.D., the statue was stolen from the temple by the Roman empire and the glory of the temple is long lost in history. The second most notable sculptures of the Parthenon are the east and west pediments. The east pediment tells the story of the birth of Athena, which is from the Greek mythology, while the west pediment tells the story of the contest between Athena and Poseidon. Despite the damages of the temple, one can still see the liveliness of the characters from the remains of the temple. For example, the spirits of the young Athens are successfully depicted by the sculpture in figure 3. It shows the scene of parade of the Athens on horse, when the horses motion to jump up. The posture of the young Athens, movement of the horses and their waving ropes are perfectly executed to form the dignified and elegant beauty. Among the hundreds of sculptures in the Parthenon, not a single repetition is spotted, contributing to a magnificent symphony.

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Figure 3. Horsemen, Frieze

 

5. Historical and Cultural Context

The Parthenon was built when the Ancient Greek culture was at its peak. Meanwhile, it was also the time when classism was thriving in the sculptures. One of the most distinctive features of classism in sculpture is the harmony between the Gods and the humans. The Ancient Greeks retained their respect for the divine, while also celebrating the greatness of mankind. Such a philosophy can be seen in many sculptures in the Parthenon. For example, as the largest sculpture and statue in the Parthenon, the statue of Athena was holding a spear and a shield and wearing the robes of humans, which shows that the artwork was already in the process of secularization. Another well know sculpture, the Three Goddesses originally on the east pediment of the Parthenon is another example (Figure 4). The heads and arms of the characters are all gone now, but the elegant gestures of the goddesses, their peaceful figures and the treatment of their cloths have made them look more like humans with flesh and blood than cold marbles. From the details of the clothing, it can be clearly seen that the texture of their robes is delicate, thin and light, roughly showing their body figures. The beauty of women and the divinity of the goddesses are combined in the work.

图片4.png

Figure 4. Three Goddesses, East Pediment

 

6. Conclusion

The high density and quality of sculptures in the Parthenon is the highest representation of the Ancient Greek culture. Packed in a relatively small area, the delicacy of the sculptures combined with the structure itself is beyond comparison. Despite some deviations in style in part of the sculptures, the Parthenon, as a specimen of the origin of western civilization, has shown the world the idea of harmonious coexistence between humans and the divine.

 

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