The Parthenon (Wonders of the World)

The Parthenon (Wonders of the World)

Mary Beard

Language: English

Pages: 240

ISBN: 0674055632

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Praise for the previous edition:

"Wry and imaginative, this gem of a book deconstructs the most famous building in Western history."–Benjamin Schwarz, The Atlantic

"In her brief but compendious volume [Beard] says that the more we find out about this mysterious structure, the less we know. Her book is especially valuable because it is up to date on the restoration the Parthenon has been undergoing since 1986."–Gary Wills, New York Review of Books

At once an entrancing cultural history and a congenial guide for tourists, armchair travelers, and amateur archaeologists alike, this book conducts readers through the storied past and towering presence of the most famous building in the world. In the revised version of her classic study, Mary Beard now includes the story of the long-awaited new museum opened in 2009 to display the sculptures from the building that still remain in Greece, as well as the controversies that have surrounded it, and asks whether it makes a difference to the "Elgin Marble debate."















have come down to clear, non-negotiable legal limits. Most commentators at the time were much more ambivalent about Elgin’s actions than we usually (thanks to Byron’s spin) imagine, and their objections were focused on the prising away of sculpture from the standing remains of the building. They were not generally averse to the idea that Elgin should cart off to Britain the bits and pieces he found by digging or – never mind the villagers – those that were built into the Turkish houses on the

in theory participate in the political process; but how far did they? And what counted as participation? Some critics have pointed out that the place where the assembly regularly met was hardly geared to mass involvement, since it could only accommodate a small proportion, not much more than 10 per cent, of those eligible to attend. Others have interpreted participation more generously: if you take into account not just the assembly but all the different forms of political and public service

were arranged. But even with them, crucial problems remain. We have no idea at all how the birth of Athena itself was depicted, for the central figures over the main east entrance had disappeared long before the Marquis de Nointel arrived, when the building was first converted to a church. Was she really shown literally popping out of Zeus’ head, as the myth had it – and as is sometimes found in smaller-scale depictions of the story? Or was it, as many scholars now guess, a more prosaic, less

return of the marbles which belong to it.’ The rousing words were accompanied by an even more dramatic gesture. In front of the cameras, Samaras reinserted into its original place a sculpted head from one of the metopes, given back on temporary loan from the Vatican Museum – smiling as he did so, one critic observed, ‘like a child who had completed his first jigsaw puzzle’. Melina Mercouri would have deplored the politics of these men (she was as far to the left as they are to the right) – but

which a large viewing area in the shape of an eye was inserted, as if to make the point about the visual relationship between museum and the ruins on the rock. But when work started on the foundations, substantial remains of the ancient and early medieval city of Athens were uncovered. These were significant enough to ensure the cancellation of the whole project – or at least significant enough to provide a convenient excuse for those who wished to see the end of the scheme for other reasons. So

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