Propaganda and National Pride in Building the Parthenon

Powerful Essays
To what extent were propaganda and national pride as important as

religion in the design, construction and decoration of the Parthenon?

Although the decision to build the Parthenon was highly controversial

in Athens because of the politics that surrounded it, was the

Parthenon erected simply as sign of dedication to the gods? Or was it

to fuel the dwindling pride of the Athenian citizens? By studying the

structure, decoration and design, I hope to come to a conclusion as to

whether the Parthenon was simply physical evidence of Athenian pride

or whether it was pride in religion.

Brief History

Though the Persian wars were possibly over before the Parthenon was

being considered, the wars played a vital role for Athens and her

temples. During the wars, the armies of Persia attacked Athens and

sacked the city leaving much of it in ruins, including the new temple

in honour of Athene atop the Acropolis that was under construction.

During the struggle, many of the states in Greece joined together to

fight against the Persians and decided that they should not rebuild

any of the temples that had been destroyed by the Persians to have an

eternal memory of the devastation they caused and the lack of respect

they have for religion. The once impressive city of Athens was

reduced to dust, with small basic houses and nothing really imposing.

The relatively basic buildings of Athens must have crushed the pride

of the people, however, due to the oath taken at Plataea not to

rebuild any of the temples, the people remained humbled by their

modest buildings in their cities. Some of the states in Greece joined

together in a league to sustain a navy that could protect them from

more attacks from the Persians. The money given by each of the states

was kept at a treasury in Delos, the Greeks then referred to the band

of states as the Delian League. Eventually, it became obvious that

Athens would be the leaders of the league and so the money was

transferred to Athens. After rebuilding and fortifying the city, the

Athenians made peace with Persia in 449BC. The oath of Plataea no

longer seemed necessary, and a popular Athenian politician, Pericles,

began advances to persuade the Athenians to rebuild the temples of

Athens. Pericles wanted to discuss rebuilding the temples and

guarding the oceans with the other states in the Delian League.


... middle of paper ...

... after so many violent wars, their

city was still here. So to conclude, I believe that national pride was

hugely important in the building of the Parthenon, and although it

seems that religion took a lower priority, it may have been just as

important as national pride in the building of the Parthenon.

Bibliography - Books


D’Agostino, Bruno (1974) Monuments of Civilisation Greece, Readers

Digest, London

Connolly, Peter; Dodge, Hazel (1998) The Ancient City: Life in

Classical Athens and Rome Oxford University Press, Oxford

Jenkins, Ian (1994) The Parthenon Frieze, British Museum Press, London

Peach, Susan; Millard, Anne (2003) The Greeks, Usborne Publishing,


Woodford, Susan (1981) The Parthenon Cambridge University Press,


Beard, Mary (2002) The Parthenon Profile Books, London

Bibliography – Websites


Bibliography – Video


Sculpture of the Parthenon Viewtech
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