The name of this legendary ancient Greek temple - Parthenon - is taken from the word Parthenos, one of the epithets of the goddess Athena. And indeed, this glorious work of architecture was originally dedicated to the patron goddess of the city of Athens.
However, the Parthenon is much more than a monument to Athena - it is also one of the masterpieces of Western architecture. From the elegantly simple yet refined Doric columns, to the elaborately beautiful images of sculpture (which were designed by the famous artist Phidias) that adorn the frieze, metopes, and pediments, this structure perfectly embodies the Classical Greek ideals of order, harmony, and balance.
The numerous refinements devised by the architects Iktinos and Kallikrates make the Parthenon both graceful and majestic. Indeed, clever touches such as the gentle swelling of the Doric columns (the effect is referred to as entasis) improve the appearance of the structure when it is viewed from a distance. These subtle but important enhancements give the Parthenon its power, and the impressive results have led some scholars to compare this marble temple to a work of grand sculpture.
Learn more about the role the goddess Athena played in Greek mythology at Mythography.
Art and Experience in Classical Greece
Professor J.J. Pollitt puts the Classical period in perspective, using dynamic descriptions of some of the most memorable works from this time of artistic brilliance. There is a lucid discussion of the Parthenon in this book, with images to illustrate the text.
This beautifully illustrated book (from the Phaidon Art and Ideas series and written by Nigel Spivey) covers the subject of ancient Greek art brilliantly.