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The Parthenon Enigma

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A revolutionary new understanding of the most famous and influential building in the world, a thesis that calls into question our basic understanding of the ancient civilization that we most identify with.

For more than two millennia, the Parthenon has been revered as the symbol of Western culture, the epitome of the ancient society from which we derive our highest ideals. It was understood to honor the city-state's patron deity Athena, and its intricately sculpted surface believed to depict a celebration of civic continuity in the birthplace of democracy. But through a close reading of a lost play by Euripides, accidentally discovered on a papyrus wrapping an Egyptian mummy, Joan Connelly began to develop a new theory that has sparked one of the fiercest controversies ever to rock the world of classics. Now, she recounts how our most basic sense of the Parthenon and of the culture that built it may have been crucially mistaken. Re-creating the ancient structure from its natural environment to its pediment, and using a breathtaking range of textual and visual evidence, she uncovers a monument glorifying human sacrifice set in a world of cult rituals quite unlike anything conventionally conjured by the word "Athenian." 

Review:

"Alternately a cathedral, a mosque, and an archaeological ruin, the Parthenon atop Athens's Acropolis was constructed nearly 2,500 years ago (447 — 432 B.C.E.), on the site of an earlier temple, as a huge, 'lavishly decorated' temple of Athena. Here, in contrast to tendencies to project upon it our modern 'standards of what it means to be civilized,' archaeologist and NYU classics professor Connelly (Portrait of a Priestess) urges readers 'to see the Parthenon and the people who made it as they were.' Using surviving snippets from a long-lost Euripides play, she argues that the Parthenon frieze isn't a snapshot of contemporary fifth-century B.C.E. Athenians 'marching in their annual Panathenaic procession,' but a mythological scene glorifying human sacrifice before a battle between followers of rivals Athena and Poseidon. Within the Parthenon sits a tomb shrine to those sacrificed heroines, whose associated cult was incorporated into the worship of Athena. Connelly's persuasive reinterpretation of the frieze will spark controversy among academics, as will her advocacy of the return to Greece of the British Museum's Elgin Marbles. But this detailed, smart, and tantalizing study offers much to savor while immersing readers in a 'spirit-saturated, anxious world' at the mercy of mercurial gods. Illus." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

JOAN BRETON CONNELLY is a classical archaeologist and the author of two previous books, Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece and Votive Sculpture of Hellenistic Cyprus. She received her A.B. in classics from Princeton University and Ph.D. in classical and Near Eastern archaeology from Bryn Mawr College, where she now serves on the board of trustees. In 1996, Professor Connelly was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. She received the Archaeological Institute of America’s Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2007 and held NYU’s Lillian Vernon Chair for Teaching Excellence in 2002–2004. She has held visiting fellowships at All Souls College, Magdalen College, New College, and Corpus Christi College at Oxford University, and at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, and has been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Professor Connelly has excavated throughout Greece, Kuwait, and Cyprus where she has directed the Yeronisos Island Excavations since 1990. She is currently a professor of classics and art history at New York University.

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About the Author

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Product Details

ISBN:
9780307593382
Author:
Connelly, Joan Breton
Publisher:
Alfred A. Knopf
Subject:
Ancient - Greece
Subject:
World History-Ancient Near East
Subject:
History
Publication Date:
20140131
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
125 ILLUS IN TXT; 8PP OF COLOR
Pages:
512
Dimensions:
9.51 x 6.55 x 1.56 in 1.94 lb

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » History » Ancient and Classical
Arts and Entertainment » Art » General
History and Social Science » Western Civilization » Ancient Greece
History and Social Science » World History » Ancient Near East

The Parthenon Enigma Used Hardcover
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Product details 512 pages Alfred A. Knopf - English 9780307593382 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Alternately a cathedral, a mosque, and an archaeological ruin, the Parthenon atop Athens's Acropolis was constructed nearly 2,500 years ago (447 — 432 B.C.E.), on the site of an earlier temple, as a huge, 'lavishly decorated' temple of Athena. Here, in contrast to tendencies to project upon it our modern 'standards of what it means to be civilized,' archaeologist and NYU classics professor Connelly (Portrait of a Priestess) urges readers 'to see the Parthenon and the people who made it as they were.' Using surviving snippets from a long-lost Euripides play, she argues that the Parthenon frieze isn't a snapshot of contemporary fifth-century B.C.E. Athenians 'marching in their annual Panathenaic procession,' but a mythological scene glorifying human sacrifice before a battle between followers of rivals Athena and Poseidon. Within the Parthenon sits a tomb shrine to those sacrificed heroines, whose associated cult was incorporated into the worship of Athena. Connelly's persuasive reinterpretation of the frieze will spark controversy among academics, as will her advocacy of the return to Greece of the British Museum's Elgin Marbles. But this detailed, smart, and tantalizing study offers much to savor while immersing readers in a 'spirit-saturated, anxious world' at the mercy of mercurial gods. Illus." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , JOAN BRETON CONNELLY is a classical archaeologist and the author of two previous books, Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece and Votive Sculpture of Hellenistic Cyprus. She received her A.B. in classics from Princeton University and Ph.D. in classical and Near Eastern archaeology from Bryn Mawr College, where she now serves on the board of trustees. In 1996, Professor Connelly was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. She received the Archaeological Institute of America’s Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2007 and held NYU’s Lillian Vernon Chair for Teaching Excellence in 2002–2004. She has held visiting fellowships at All Souls College, Magdalen College, New College, and Corpus Christi College at Oxford University, and at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, and has been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Professor Connelly has excavated throughout Greece, Kuwait, and Cyprus where she has directed the Yeronisos Island Excavations since 1990. She is currently a professor of classics and art history at New York University.
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