Parthenon

The Greek Gods

Delphi Philosophy Logo.jpg
Guide to Athens logo.jpg
1/4

Delphi stepped out of the shadow of the temple of Artemis and moved around the side, towards the edge.  The view across the city was beautiful – she could see the Pnyx, where the Assembly met, and the buildings in the Agora catching the sunlight. 


The Parthenon stood before her, trying its best to be impressive.  


Delphi had never really thought it was impressive.  Why would she?  She had seen it every single day of her life.  It was visible from just about everywhere in the city.  But up close, she couldn’t help but wonder how they had managed to build it.  Someone had once told her that there were no straight lines on the Parthenon – everything was slightly curved to make it look even taller than it really was.  She had barely ever given it a thought, but here – she felt almost scared by it.  


All right.  It was perhaps a bit impressive, she admitted to herself.


She knew that inside would be the statue to Athena, said to be the largest in the city.  She wondered how Athena felt, everyone being able to see your house all day, every day.  Delphi wasn’t sure she’d like that.


Slowly, convinced she would be caught at any second, Delphi approached the mighty columns.  Her heart pounding rapidly, she found an open door, took a glimpse inside and gasped.  The statue was enormous.  It had ivory skin and was dressed in gold.


She backed away, terrified.  Getting in trouble with the priests was one thing but getting in trouble with Athena was something entirely different.

1/2

Parthenon: Fact box

  • The Parthenon is the largest preserved Greek temple in the world and is known as one of the Wonders of the Ancient World.  It's one of the most famous buildings ever built.  It's so famous you’ve probably seen other buildings that look a bit like it – that’s because builders have been copying it for thousands of years!

 

  • The Parthenon was built under the leadership of the famous Greek general and statesman Pericles, who completed the building in 432 BC.

 

  • The design of the building is extremely clever – the huge columns lean slightly inwards and bulge in the middle to give the building a sense of energy and reaching up to the sky.  It’s like a huge illusion!

 

  • The statue to Athena was created by the sculptor Pheidias.  It stood 12 metres tall and contained over 1000kg of gold!   Sadly, the original statue has not survived so we’ve only got copies to see what it might have looked like.

 

  • Most of the treasures of the Acropolis are now at the nearby Acropolis museum.  However, in the early 1800’s Lord Elgin removed many of the statues and marble carvings from the building and sold them to the British Government.  Even today, many of the artefacts are at the British Museum in London, and there is a big argument about whether they should give them back!

The Greek Gods

The Greeks believed in hundreds of different gods.  The most important ones were called the Olympian gods and were thought to live on Mount Olympus in Greece.  The Gods included:

 

  • Zeus: The chief of the Olympian gods, and god of lightning.  He had a short temper and a terrible habit of fathering children with many different women!  He has a large temple in the city.

 

  • Hera: Zeus’ wife, and the god of marriage and family.  She was often very angry at Zeus and would seek furious revenge against anyone who broke their marriage vows.

 

  • Poseidon: Brother to Zeus and god of the sea.  Sailors would regularly make offerings and sacrifices to Poseidon before beginning a sea voyage.

 

  • Demeter: The goddess of farming and agriculture.  The Greeks believed her grief at not being with her daughter Persephone for half of each year caused winter to come.

 

  • Hades: The god of the underworld, and ruler over the land of the dead.  It was Hades who stole away Demeter’s daughter Persephone to be his wife for half of each year.

 

  • Aphrodite: The goddess of love and beauty.  Unsurprisingly, lots of trouble occurs in the Greek myths when men fall in love with her!
     

  • Hephaestus: The god of fire and the forge, where things were made out of metal.  He has a large temple in the Agora.

 

  • Ares: The god of war.  Soldiers would often pray to Ares for victory before battle.

 

  • Athena: The goddess of practical wisdom and the protector of Athens, who was named after her.

 

  • Artemis: The goddess of hunting and protector of pregnant women and young girls.  She was a formidable enemy and hated men!

 

  • Apollo: Twin brother to Artemis, and god of music, medicine and art.

 

  • Hermes: The fast and trickster messenger god.  He had a pair of golden sandals which allowed him to fly.

 

  • Dionysus: The god of wine.  Plays and music performed in the Theatre were performed in his honour.

Where do you want to go next?