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The Parthenon enigma

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Built in the fifth century b.c., the Parthenon has been venerated for more than two millennia as the West's ultimate paragon of beauty and proportion. Since the Enlightenment, it has also come to represent our political ideals, the lavish temple to the goddess Athena serving as the model for our most hallowed civic architecture. But how much do the values of those who built the Parthenon truly correspond with our own? And apart from the significance with which we have invested it, what exactly did this marvel of human hands mean to those who made it? In this revolutionary book, Joan Breton Connelly challenges our most basic assumptions about the Parthenon and the ancient Athenians. Beginning with the natural environment and its rich mythic associations, she re-creates the development of the Acropolis--the Sacred Rock at the heart of the city-state--from its prehistoric origins to its Periklean glory days as a constellation of temples among which the Parthenon stood supreme. In particular, she probes the Parthenon's legendary frieze: the 525-foot-long relief sculpture that originally encircled the upper reaches before it was partially destroyed by Venetian cannon fire (in the seventeenth century) and most of what remained was shipped off to Britain (in the nineteenth century) among the Elgin marbles. The frieze's vast enigmatic procession--a dazzling pageant of cavalrymen and elders, musicians and maidens--has for more than two hundred years been thought to represent a scene of annual civic celebration in the birthplace of democracy. But thanks to a once-lost play by Euripides (the discovery of which, in the wrappings of a Hellenistic Egyptian mummy, is only one of this book's intriguing adventures), Connelly has uncovered a long-buried meaning, a story of human sacrifice set during the city's mythic founding. In a society startlingly preoccupied with cult ritual, this story was at the core of what it meant to be Athenian. Connelly reveals a world that beggars our popular notions of Athens as a city of staid philosophers, rationalists, and rhetoricians, a world in which our modern secular conception of democracy would have been simply incomprehensible. The Parthenon's full significance has been obscured until now owing in no small part, Connelly argues, to the frieze's dismemberment. And so her investigation concludes with a call to reunite the pieces, in order that what is perhaps the greatest single work of art surviving from antiquity may be viewed more nearly as its makers intended. Marshalling a breathtaking range of textual and visual evidence, full of fresh insights woven into a thrilling narrative that brings the distant past to life, The Parthenon Enigma is sure to become a landmark in our understanding of the civilization from which we claim cultural descent.
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Grouping Information

Grouped Work ID 0548b6f2-9592-082f-91a2-6aa53700ba31
Grouping Title parthenon enigma
Grouping Author connelly joan breton
Grouping Category book
Last Grouping Update 2020-05-23 23:03:19PM
Last Indexed 2020-05-24 00:11:10AM

Solr Details

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display_description "A revolutionary new understanding of the most famous and influential building in the world, a thesis that calls into question our basic understanding of the ancient civilization that we most identify with. For more than two millennia, the Parthenon has been revered as the symbol of Western culture, the epitome of the ancient society from which we derive our highest ideals. It was understood to honor the city-state's patron deity Athena, and its intricately sculpted surface believed to depict a celebration of civic continuity in the birthplace of democracy. But through a close reading of a lost play by Euripides, accidentally discovered on a papyrus wrapping an Egyptian mummy, Joan Connelly began to develop a new theory that has sparked one of the fiercest controversies ever to rock the world of classics. Now, she recounts how our most basic sense of the Parthenon and of the culture that built it may have been crucially mistaken. Re-creating the ancient structure from its natural environment to its pediment, and using a breathtaking range of textual and visual evidence, she uncovers a monument glorifying human sacrifice set in a world of cult rituals quite unlike anything conventionally conjured by the word "Athenian." "--
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isbn 030759338
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owning_library_catalog Nashville Public Library
owning_location_catalog Green Hills
Green Hills Kids
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primary_isbn 9780307476593
publishDate 2014
Bib IdFormatFormat CategoryEditionLanguagePublisherPublication DatePhysical Description
overdrive:a71c26a0-e68a-4c78-8e11-cfd050f734b2 eBook eBook English Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2014
ils:CARL0000425160 Book Books English Alfred A. Knopf, 2014. xxiii, 485 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, map ; 25 cm.
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subject_facet Athens (Greece) -- Buildings, structures, etc
Parthenon (Athens, Greece)
Symbolism in architecture -- Greece -- Athens
title_display The Parthenon enigma
title_full The Parthenon Enigma
The Parthenon enigma / Joan Breton Connelly
title_short The Parthenon enigma
topic_facet Architecture
Buildings, structures, etc
Symbolism in architecture