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The Parthenon

por Mary Beard

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318482,037 (4.04)6
Publisher's description: Oscar Wilde compared it to a white goddess, Evelyn Waugh to Stilton cheese. In observers from Lord Byron to Sigmund Freud to Virginia Woolf it met with astonishment, rapture, poetry, even tears--and, always, recognition. Twenty-five hundred years after it first rose above Athens, the Parthenon remains one of the wonders of the world, its beginnings and strange turns of fortune over millennia a perpetual source of curiosity, controversy, and intrigue. 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. Who built the Parthenon, and for what purpose? How are we to understand its sculpture? Why is it such a compelling monument? The classicist and historian Mary Beard takes us back to the fifth century B.C. to consider the Parthenon in its original guise--as the flagship temple of imperial Athens, housing an enormous gold and ivory statue of the city's patron goddess attended by an enigmatic assembly of sculptures. Just as fascinating is the monument's far longer life as cathedral church of Our Lady of Athens, as "the finest mosque in the world," and, finally, as an inspirational ruin and icon. Beard also takes a cool look at the bitter arguments that continue to surround the "Elgin Marbles," the sculptures from the Parthenon now in the British Museum. Her book constitutes the ultimate tour of the marvelous history and present state of this glory of the Acropolis, and of the world.… (mais)
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An excellent study of this iconic building. Thoughtful, balanced, and wise, it follows the history of the Parthenon from its construction through its later incarnations as church, mosque, powder magazine and (surprisingly late in the day) national monument. Beard is the ideal guide, never swayed by the political hysteria which dominates any mention of the temple nowadays. Equally useful as an introduction to the building and its controversies, or as a refresher for those more familiar with the issues. ( )
  TheIdleWoman | Feb 10, 2019 |
Review: The Parthenon by Mary Beard.

This is an interesting book about the history of a famous building. Anyone touring in that area of Greece or the British Museum in London where Lord Elgin sold many large pieces of marble columns, frieze hangings, and sculptures from the ancient Parthenon ruins may want to read a book like this or even take the book with you for reference reasons. The author reminds us that there are great voids of mystery about what it was built for or the exact date and much of what we see at the Parthenon ruins now is a controversial restoration. Mary Beard takes the reader through the entire history of the Parthenon on truth and assumption. She details its probable early use as a Temple to Athens as well as other theories of being a known utility of a Christian church and Mosque in later years.

The Parthenon has a quite fascinating and rich history, A thousand years as a Pagan Temple, another thousands years as a Christian church and another four hundred years as an Islamic Mosque. Everything that Lord Elgin ended up taking after the explosion in 1687 to the British museum, where they are well taken care of, the Greek’s wants back to place in an even better place, the new Acropolis Museum, to show the world these ancient works of art. The author does go over the controversy over ownership of the Parthenon sculptures, the hanging friezes and the pieces of marble columns that once was part of the elaborate monument.

The background on the 1687 explosion of the Parthenon was caused by stored gun powder of the Ottoman Empire (Turks) using the Parthenon as an arsenal. After the explosion this made the Parthenon a target for the Venetians over the Christian preservation they held in the building. The Venetians started shelling ammunition and didn’t stop until the Parthenon was considered ruin. There has been partial restoration over the years but the building was never brought back to architectural structure it once was. After Lord Elgin collected what he wanted from the Parthenon ruins, what remained deteriorated over the years and became an ancient monument.

The author notes that the Parthenon had the hardest time trying to survive then any other monument. Since the 5th century BC the building has been burnt, sacked, looted, converted to a Christian church, defaced, turned into a Mosque, defaced again, additions added and then removed, and in 1687 it was shelled by the Venetians. It was a fascinating read and sad in a way of how this iconic monument was a glorious structure from the 5th century Athenian history.
( )
1 vote Juan-banjo | May 31, 2016 |
My favorite book by Mary Beard (so far). To me, it reads a lot like her blog, A Don's Life, which I enjoy immensely. The scholarship is there, but her writing is so conversational and so interestingly informative that you almost don't realize you're learning something. A fun way to become an expert on the most important building in the history of architecture. ( )
1 vote scootm | Sep 23, 2010 |
Read it and you'll definitely want to see the Parthenon for yourself.

Witty and dry - true Beard style. ( )
  wrappedupinbooks | Jul 16, 2007 |
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Publisher's description: Oscar Wilde compared it to a white goddess, Evelyn Waugh to Stilton cheese. In observers from Lord Byron to Sigmund Freud to Virginia Woolf it met with astonishment, rapture, poetry, even tears--and, always, recognition. Twenty-five hundred years after it first rose above Athens, the Parthenon remains one of the wonders of the world, its beginnings and strange turns of fortune over millennia a perpetual source of curiosity, controversy, and intrigue. 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. Who built the Parthenon, and for what purpose? How are we to understand its sculpture? Why is it such a compelling monument? The classicist and historian Mary Beard takes us back to the fifth century B.C. to consider the Parthenon in its original guise--as the flagship temple of imperial Athens, housing an enormous gold and ivory statue of the city's patron goddess attended by an enigmatic assembly of sculptures. Just as fascinating is the monument's far longer life as cathedral church of Our Lady of Athens, as "the finest mosque in the world," and, finally, as an inspirational ruin and icon. Beard also takes a cool look at the bitter arguments that continue to surround the "Elgin Marbles," the sculptures from the Parthenon now in the British Museum. Her book constitutes the ultimate tour of the marvelous history and present state of this glory of the Acropolis, and of the world.

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