The Crowning Jewel of the Periclean building program was the Parthenon, executed over 15 years, from 448/7 to 432.

One approaches the Parthenon through the west gate to the Acropoplis (the Propylaion, rebuilt with Acropolis),

Acropolis thus viewed from the west.

Approaching through the Propylaion


The West Pediment would be the first monumental scene you encounter, where once was represented the Triumph of Athena in contest with Poseidon (she won the patronage of Athens by her gift of the Olive). Few figures remain.

Here Iris, the messenger of the gods seems to take flight: notice the use of drapery to suggest motion in rhythmos.  (=capturing a sequence of action in a single frame, as in Myron's Diskobolos).

Nearby the chariot of the Moon drawn by this charger descends into the dusk.


The opposite East Pediment showed the Birth of Athena, fully armed from the brow of Zeus.

Again, few figures remain, such as these reclining gods in attendance, identified as Dionysus, Kore (Persephone) and Demeter.

Beneath the Pediments and along the North and South sides were sculpture placques called metopes depicting such symbols triumph over savagery and the battle of Greeks and Centaurs, as at the SW corner

These metopes show development from a fairly mechanical sense of motion  to dramatic realism that seems to ready to leap out.

And at the top of the inner wall ran a continuous frieze or narrative scene representing the worship of Athena on her birthdate at the summer solstice: the Panathenaea. The whole scheme was arranged to convey the stages of preparation and the spirit of excitement. On the west end young men mount up and gallup off to join the procession.

Along either side people of all ages bring offerings to the goddess as summarized in this plan.

And the whole procession culminates on the East end (beneath the pediment of Athena's birth) with the presentation of the ceremonial robe, the peplos