Ideas of the Parthenon

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The Greek people of the 5th century BC created a culture that was deeply rooted in philosophy and the arts. Their endless search for their place in the grand scheme of the universe and in nature around them influenced everything in their lives especially their love of the arts. Their drama, sculpture, and even architecture are all shining examples of the ideas that were so dominant in the minds of the Greek people. What could be considered the crown jewel of Greek architecture, the Parthenon, is one such of these examples. It brings into form the three principal ideas of humanism, rationalism, and idealism of the 5th century Greek people through not only its structure, but its ornamentation and sculpture as well. The basis of humanism can be summed up in the words of Protagoras, “Man is the measure of all things.” Humanism is the idea that human beings are the yardstick by with to measure all things in the universe, including Greek gods and goddesses. The Parthenon stands for this very idea through the fact that it is a human organization of space. It brings an understandable order into a chaotic space that would otherwise be incomprehensible to a human being. It allows a human to see the space and recognize it as something that is real. It also consists of repeated patterns and distance intervals throughout its structure that add to this order. The metopes, for example, are set in an alternating pattern with the triglyphs around the entire building at distinct intervals bringing a clear order to the entablature of the Parthenon. The columns that support the Parthenon are also placed in certain distance intervals from each other and coincide with the pattern formed by the metopes and triglyphs. These columns, however, are not in a perfect pattern of equal distances around the entire Parthenon. The columns on either side of the doorway to the Parthenon are placed a little farther apart than the rest to show a clear entrance to the building. Also the corner columns of the building are positioned slightly closer to their neighboring columns in order to compensate for the human eye. Without this compensation the columns would give the illusion of leaning outward and being farther apart than the rest of the columns because of the distortion of such a large structure to the human eye. The stylobate that the columns rest on is also built to allow for this op... ... middle of paper ... ...ding hints to the fact that the Parthenon is a place that is not meant for a human or even built with a human being in mind. For example, the steps of the Parthenon are to such a large scale that is clumsy and awkward for a man’s normal stride, but in the Greek mind, the perfect distance and size for that of a goddess. The entrance to the Parthenon, through it’s colossal size, denotes that a human is not the main concern when it comes to entering and exiting of this building in the mind of the architect. The 5th century Greek people played a pivotal role in the shaping of not only the world of philosophy but also the world of art and architecture. Their ideas of humanism, rationalism, and idealism were the things that brought to life the artwork of their time and still effects ours to this day. The Parthenon, with its bulging columns, its repeated ratios, and its colossal size expresses how these ideas formed the structure of the building and then shows how the same ideas brought to form the beautiful pediments and sculptures that give us a deeper insight into the minds and hearts of the Greek people. The Parthenon is truly an elaborate time capsule overflowing with Greek ideas.

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