In the city of Athens, the ancient Athenians dedicated an awe-inspiring monument to their patron goddess, Athena. This was the temple known as the Parthenon (named after one of the epithets of the goddess - Parthenos).
This work of architecture featured a magnificent frieze that depicted gods and humans. In one section of the frieze, the gods of Olympus were portrayed, carved in shallow relief, their graceful forms emerging from the face of the marble. These gods and goddesses appear to be watching the human spectacle taking place in the remainder of the frieze.
On either end of the temple, there are pediments that also depict important Athenian myths. One is the contest between Athena and the sea god Poseidon over the city of Athens. The other depicts the birth of Athena, as she springs from the head of her father, Zeus.
The sculptural reliefs on the Parthenon all tell a story, about the people of Athens and their aspirations, and also their relationship with the deities who watched over them from the peaks of Mt. Olympus. These stories are the myths of ancient Greece, and they continued to inspire us even today.
Learn more about the gods Athena, Poseidon, and Zeus 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.