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Ancient Greece
Parthenon



Parthenon
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 8 to 10
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   9.26

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    acropolis, brokered, cella, culmination, magnificence, pediment, ceasefire, irrational, life-like, standing, timeless, onset, layout, structural, statesman, pagan
     content words:    Persian Empire, Greco-Persian Wars, Persian Wars, When Pericles, Ottoman Empire, On September, Thomas Bruce, Lord Elgin, British Museum


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Parthenon
By Vickie Chao
  

1     Thousands of years ago in the heyday of the ancient Greek civilization, Athens was the center of the world. But at the onset of the 5th century B.C., another great civilization sought to challenge that dominance. That civilization was the mighty Persian Empire. In 492 B.C., the Persian king Darius launched his first attack against the Greeks, officially setting off the so-called Greco-Persian Wars or simply "the Persian Wars." After more than four decades of fighting, the two archenemies finally agreed to a ceasefire. In 449 B.C., a rich Athenian by the name of Callias brokered a deal, commonly known as the Peace of Callias, between the Greeks and the Persians. After the Persians consented to the terms, they withdrew their troops and went back to their homeland, leaving the Greeks to rebuild their cities, including Athens.
 
2     Pericles, a prominent Athenian statesman, wanted to restore Athens back to its glorious days before the conflict had destroyed it. One area in particular that he wanted to fix was the acropolis. The acropolis, which literally means "city at the top" in Greek, was a standard component in the layout of a Greek city. It always stood atop a hill or on elevated ground, serving the dual purposes of defense and religious worship. When Pericles began his work reconstructing the acropolis at Athens, he called for the boldest design and spared no expense. High on his to-do list was a temple dedicated to the city's patron goddess, Athena. For that assignment, he asked two architects, Ictinus (or Iktinos) and Callicrates (or Kallikrates), to draw a blueprint. And he hired a sculptor, Phidias, to design both the exterior and the interior of the temple. The entire construction took nine years to complete. When it was at last unveiled to the public in 438 B.C., its magnificence took everybody's breath away! Amazingly, that marvelous building still remains standing today in Athens. It is the world-famous Parthenon.
 
3     The Parthenon is a huge rectangular, marbled structure, with rows of columns on all four sides - eight on the east and west, and seventeen on the north and south. Inside the building, there was once a chamber, or a cella, where a giant statue of Athena (made of gold, ivory, and wood) stood proudly. Behind the cella, separated by a slant wall, was a treasure room for sacred objects. Light could only come into the cella from the doorway facing east. Directly above the columns on both the east and west ends of the temple were two triangular pediments with intricate designs. The eastern pediment showed the birth of Athena from the head of her father, Zeus, the king of all gods and goddesses. The western pediment depicted a fierce battle between Athena and Poseidon over the land of Attica. Dotted around the temple were numerous forceful, life-like sculptures. Phidias placed them strategically so each section told a different tale of ancient Greece.

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