The Byzantine Parthenon
Presented by Penny Mantouvalou
The Whitting Room (Arts 436), University of Birmingham
5:30 PM 2nd May 2018
A marble temple now standing in ruins, situated on top of the Athenian Akropolis, is regarded as the symbol of Greek culture. Visitors from all over the world gather here every year to see what remains of a classical, Ancient Greek monument and learn more about its history.
Today the Parthenon is known as the classical icon, a work of art, which combines excellent architecture in design, scale and originality, as well as a rich sculptural multilayered figurative decoration, which includes a large group of mythological scenes. It has been an inspiration not only to other contemporary temples but also to modern buildings in the West. Nevertheless, the Parthenon adopted other functions and names in the course of history, serving as a Byzantine church and later after 1204 as a Latin one. During the Ottoman period, it was used as a mosque.
Athens was part of a Byzantine province, which was Christianized following the example of the rest of the empire. As it would be expected the Parthenon’s nature and function changed as well and adapted. The building embraced in time Byzantine culture and Christianity. However, what makes this case unique is the great pagan tradition this temple had, and how this was mixed with the new features.