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History (5)

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites

The Acropolis. A few remains of the Mycenaean period and considerable remnants of the Pelargikon remain on the top of the hill from prehistoric times. No remains of the Geometric period have been discovered. The first shrines must be dated at the earliest to the 8th c. B.C. In 566 B.C., the year when Peisistratos instituted the festival and games of the Great Panathenaia, the highest section of the Mycenaean tower in front of the entrance to the Acropolis was taken down and the first altar was consecrated there to Athena Nike. At the same time a straight ramp was built up the hill to help the procession in its ascent and the first temples were built inside the Acropolis: the Hekatompedon in 570-566 on the site where the Parthenon was later erected, the Old Temple of Athena in 529-520 whose foundations have been preserved, and a number of smaller buildings.
  In the period from 490 to 480 B.C. the Acropolis was still surrounded by the Pelargikon wall, but this had lost its defensive role. In 485 B.C. a new propylon had replaced the old entrance, and near the Altar of Athena Nike a small poros temple was built. The Hekatompedon was torn down and in its place the first marble Parthenon was begun. This was in a half-finished state when the Acropolis was razed by the Persians in 480 B.C. A new program for rebuilding the temples and other buildings which had been destroyed was started in 448 B.C. after the signing of Kallias' Peace Treaty with the Persians at Susa. Among the first works on the Acropolis was the construction of strong retaining walls, partly to level the area, but chiefly to enlarge the area of the Acropolis. Then followed monuments which still remain today in a remarkable state of preservation: the Parthenon in 447-438 B.C., the Propylaia in 437-432, the Erechtheion in 421-406, the Temple of Brauronian Artemis, the Chalkotheke, and other small temples and altars.
  In Hellenistic and Roman times only minor buildings were constructed on the Acropolis. Immediately after 27 B.C. the Erechtheion was repaired and a circular temple of Rome and Augustus was built to the E of the Parthenon. The temples of the Acropolis remained virtually untouched through the whole mediaeval period, save for their conversion to Christian churches. Their destruction and demolition began in the middle of the 17th c. A.D. and continued until the Greek War of Independence.

Around the Acropolis. In the whole area around the Acropolis remains and sherds from the Neolithic through the Late Geometric periods are found. From the 7th, but chiefly from the 6th c. B.C. through the Roman period, all along the Peripatos road which surrounds the Acropolis numerous shrines and other buildings were constructed. In 465 B.C. the Klepsydra fountain was built and at some time after the Persian wars the cult of Pan was instituted in a small cave above it, next door to a cave in which Apollo Hypoakraios had been worshiped since an early period. East of it, in the cave of Aglauros, a fountain had been built in Mycenaean times, which communicated directly to the Acropolis by means of a stair. Even after the destruction of the fountain, the stair was still used by the Arrephoroi to get down to the neighboring Shrine of Aphrodite and Eros. On the S slope of the Acropolis were the Odeion of Perikles and W of it on the ruins of the old Theater of Dionysos Eleuthereus, the new theater, which was finally completed under Lykourgos (338-326 B.C.). At the highest point behind the theater the monument of Thrasyllos was built in 321-320 B.C., while to the S of the scene building was the Sanctuary of Dionysos Eleutheros, including a stoa and two temples. The cult of Asklepios was founded in 419-418 B.C. to the W of the theater, with a sanctuary incorporating numerous buildings. Later a stoa was built in front of it by Eumenes II (197-159 B.C.). Above the E end of this was the monument of Nikias (320-319) and at the other end, the Odeion of Herodes Atticus which was built soon after A.D. 160. The Shrine of the Nymphs was uncovered in front of the odeion. Sherds found in it dated from about the middle of the 7th c. B.C.
  Besides the Peripatos, the street of the Tripods surrounded the Acropolis. This started at the Prytaneion and ended in front of the propylon of the Shrine of Dionysos Eleuthereus. Along this were numerous choregic monuments, of which many bases have been found, and one of which, the monument of Lysikrates (335-334 B.C.), is nearly intact. The Prytaneion was in the Agora of Theseus, where the street of the Tripods branches off from the Panathenaic Way. Near this spot the Eleusinion was built around the middle of the 6th c. B.C.

This extract is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Aug 2005 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains 671 image(s), bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.

Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities

In nearly all the cities of Greece, which were usually built upon a hill or some natural elevation, there was a kind of tower or citadel, reared upon the highest part, to which the name akropolis (upper town) was given. At Rome, the Capitolium was analogous in its purposes to the acropolis of Greek cities. The Acropolis of Athens was situated on a plateau of rock, about 200 feet in height, 1000 in breadth from east to west, and 460 in length from north to south. It was originally called Cecropia, after Cecrops, the ancestor of the Athenians, whose grave and shrine were shown on the spot. On the north side of the Acropolis was the Erechtheum, the common seat of worship of the ancient gods of Athens, Athene Polias, Hephaestus, Poseidon, and Erechtheus himself, who was said to have founded the sanctuary. His house was possibly northeast of the Erechtheum. Pisistratus, like the ancient kings, had his residence on the Acropolis, and may have added the stylobate to the temple of Athene recently identified, south of the Erechtheum. The walls of the fortress proper were destroyed in the Persian wars, 480 and 479 B.C., and restored by Cimon. But the wall surrounding the foot of the hill, called the Pelasgicon or Pelargicon, and supposed to be a relic of the oldest inhabitants, was left in ruins. Cimon also laid the foundation of a new temple of Athene on the south side of the hill. This temple was begun afresh and completed in the most splendid style by Pericles, and called the Parthenon. Pericles at the same time adorned the approach to the west side of the Acropolis with the glorious Propylaea, and began to rebuild the Erechtheum in magnificent style. There were several other sanctuaries on the Acropolis--that, for instance, of Artemis Brauronia, on the southeastern side of the Propylaea; the beautiful little temple of Athene Nike, to the southwest; and the Pandroseum, adjoining the temple of Erechtheus. There were many altars--that of Zeus Hypatos, for example--and countless statues, among them that of Athene Promachos, with votive offerings. Among the numerous grottos in the rock, one on the north side was dedicated to Pan, another to Apollo.

This text is cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)

The Acropolis... is a square craggy rock, rising abruptly about 150 feet, with a flat summit of about 1,000 feet from east to west, by 500 feet broad from north to south. It is inaccessible on all sides, except the west, where it is ascended by a steep slope. It was at one and the same time the fortress, the sanctuary, and the museum of the city. Although the site of the original city, it had ceased to be inhabited from the time of the Persian wars, and was appropriated to the worship of Athena and the other guardian deities of the city. It was one great sanctuary, and is therefore called by Aristophanes abaton Akropolin, hieron temenos (Lysistr. 482). By the artists of the age of Pericles its platform was covered with the master-pieces of ancient art, to which additions continued to be made in succeeding ages. The sanctuary thus became a museum; and in order to form a proper idea of it, we must imagine the summit of the rock stripped of every thing except temples and statues, the whole forming one vast composition of architecture, sculpture, and painting, the dazzling whiteness of the marble relieved by brilliant colours, and glittering in the transparent clearness of the Athenian atmosphere. It was here that Art achieved her greatest triumphs; and though in the present day a scene of desolation and rain, its ruins are some of the most precious reliques of the ancient world.
  The Acropolis stood in the centre of the city. Hence it was the heart of Athens, as Athens was the heart of Greece; and Pindar no doubt alluded to it, when he speaks of asteos omphalos thuoeis en tais hierais Athanais.It was to this sacred rock that the magnificent procession of the Panathenaic festival took place once in four years. The chief object of this procession was to carry the Peplus, or embroidered robe, of Athena to her temple on the Acropolis Panathenaea. In connection with this subject it is important to distinguish between the three different Athenas of the Acropolis. The first was the Athena Polias, the most ancient of all, made of olive wood, and said to have fallen from heaven; its sanctuary was the Erechtheium. The second was the Athena of the Parthenon, a statue of ivory and gold, the work of Pheidias. The third was the Athena Promachus, a colossal statue of bronze, also the work of Pheidias, standing erect, with helmet, spear, and shield. Of these three statues we shall speak more fully hereafter; but it must be borne in mind that the Peplus of the Panathenaic procession was carried to the ancient statue of Athena Polias, and not to the Athena of the Parthenon.

I. Walls of the Acropolis.
Being a citadel, the Acropolis was fortified. The ancient fortifications are ascribed to the Pelasgians, who are said to have levelled the summit of the rock, and to have built a wall around it, called the Pelasgic Wall or Fortress (Pelasgikon teichos, Herod. v. 64). The approach on the western side was protected by a system of works, comprehending nine gates, hence called enneapulon to Pelasgikon. These fortifications were sufficiently strong to defy the Spartans, when the Peisistratidae took refuge in the Acropolis (Herod. v. 64, 65); but after the expulsion of the family of the despot, it is not improbable that they were partly dismantled, to prevent any attempt to restore the former state of things, since the seizure of the citadel was always the first step towards the establishment of despotism in a Greek state. When Xerxes attacked the Acropolis, its chief fortifications consisted of palisades and other works constructed of wood. The Persians took up their position on the Areiopagus, which was opposite the western side of the Acropolis, just as the Amazons had done when they attacked the city of Cecrops. From the Areiopagus the Persians discharged hot missiles against the wooden defences, which soon took fire and were consumed, thus leaving the road on the western side open to the enemy. The garrison kept them at bay by rolling down large stones, as they attempted to ascend the road; and the Persians only obtained possession of the citadel by scaling the precipitous rock on the northern side, close by the temple of Aglaurus (Herod. viii. 52, 53). It would seem to follow from this narrative that the elaborate system of works, with its nine gates on the western side, could not have been in existence at this time. After the capture of the Acropolis, the Persians set fire to all the buildings upon it; and when they visited Athens in the following year, they destroyed whatever remained of the walls, or houses, or temples of Athens (Herod. viii. 53, ix. 93).
  The foundations of the ancient walls no doubt remained, and the name of Pelasgic continued to be applied to a part of the fortifications down to the latest times. Aristophanes (Av. 832) speaks of tes poleos to Pelargikon, which the Scholiast explains as the Pelargic wall on the Acropolis; and Pausanias (i. 28.3) says that the Acropolis was surrounded by the Pelasgians with walls, except on the side fortified by Cimon. We have seen, however, from other authorities that the Pelasgians fortified the whole hill; and the remark of Pausanias probably only means that in his time the northern wall was called the Pelasgic, and the southern the Cimonian. When the Athenians returned to their city after its occupation by the Persians, they commenced the restoration of the walls of the Acropolis, as well as of those of the Asty; and there can be little doubt that the northern wall had been rebuilt, when Cimon completed the southern wall twelve years after the retreat of the Persians. The restoration of the northern wall may be ascribed to Themistocles; for though called apparently the Pelasgic wall, its remains show that the greater part of it was of more recent origin. In the middle of it we find courses of masonry, formed of pieces of Doric columns and entablature; and as we know from Thucydides (i. 93) that the ruins of former buildings were much employed in rebuilding the walls of the Asty, we may conclude that the same was the case in rebuilding those of the Acropolis.
  The Pelasgicum signified not only a portion of the walls of the Acropolis, but also a space of ground below the latter (to Pelasgikon kaloumenon to hupo ten Akropolin, Thuc. ii. 17). That it was not a wall is evident from the account of Thucydides, who says that an oracle had enjoined that it should remain uninhabited; but that it was, notwithstanding this prohibition, built upon, in consequence of the number of people who flocked into Athens at the commencement of the Peloponnesian war. Lucian (Piscator. 47) represents a person sitting upon the wall of the Acropolis, and letting down his hook to angle for philosophers in the Pelasgicum. This spot is said to have been originally inhabited by the Pelasgians, who fortified the Acropolis, and from which they were expelled because they plotted against the Athenians (Paus. i. 28.3). It is placed by Leake and most other authorities at the north-western angle of the Acropolis. A recent traveller remarks that the story of the Pelasgic settlement under the north side of the Acropolis inevitably rises before us, when we see the black shade always falling upon it, as over an accursed spot, in contrast with the bright gleam of sunshine which always seems to invest the Acropolis itself; and we can imagine how naturally the gloom of the steep precipice would conspire with the remembrance of an accursed and hateful race, to make the Athenians dread the spot.
  The rocks along the northern side of the Acropolis were called the Long Rocks (Makrai), a name under which they are frequently mentioned in the Ion of Euripides, in connection with the grotto of Pan, and the sanctuary of Aglaurus: entha prosborrhous tetras Pallados hup ochthoi tes Athenaion chthonos Makras kalousi ges anaktes Atthidos. This name is explained by the fact that the length of the Acropolis is much greater than its width; but it might have been given with equal propriety to the rocks on the southern side. The reason why the southern rocks had not the same name appears to have been, that the rocks on the northern side could be seen from the greater part of the Athenian plain, and from almost all the demi of Mt. Parnes; while those on the southern side were only visible from the small and more undulating district between Hymettus, the Long Walls, and the sea. In the city itself the rocks of the Acropolis were for the most part concealed from view by houses and public buildings.
  The surface of the Acropolis appears to have been divided into platforms, communicating with one another by steps. Upon these platforms stood the temples, sanctuaries, or monuments, which occupied all the summit. Before proceeding to describe the monuments of the Acropolis, it will be adviseable to give a description of the present condition of the walls, and of the recent excavations on the platform of the rock, for which we are indebted to Mr. Penrose's important work.
  On the ascent to the Acropolis from the modern town our first attention is called to the angle of the Hellenic wall, west of the northern wing of the Propylaea. It is probable that this wall formed the exterior defence of the Acropolis at this point. Following this wall northwards, we come to a bastion, built about the year 1822 by the Greek general Odysseus to defend an ancient well, to which there is access within the bastion by an antique passage and stairs of some length cut in the rock. Turning eastwards round the corner, we come to two caves, one of which is supposed to have been dedicated to Pan; in these caves are traces of tablets let into the rock. Leaving these caves we come to a large buttress, after which the wall runs upon the edge of the nearly vertical rock. On passing round a salient angle, where is a small buttress, we find a nearly straight line of wall for about 210 feet; then a short bend to the south-east; afterwards a further straight reach for about 120 feet, nearly parallel to the former. These two lines of wall contain the remains of Doric columns and entablature, to which reference has already been made. A mediaeval buttress about 100 feet from the angle of the Erechtheium forms the termination of this second reach of wall. From hence to the north-east angle of the Acropolis, where there is a tower apparently Turkish, occur several large square stones, which also appear to have belonged to some early temple. The wall, into which these, as well as the before mentioned fragments, are built, seems to be of Hellenic origin. The eastern face of the wall appears to have been entirely built in the Middle Ages on the old foundations. At the south-east angle we find the Hellenic masonry of the Southern or Cimonian wall. At this spot 29 courses remain, making a height of 45 feet. Westward of this point the wall has been almost entirely cased in mediaeval and recent times, and is further supported by 9 buttresses, which, as well as those on the north and east sides, appear to be mediaeval. But the Hellenic masonry of the Cimonian wall can be traced all along as far as the Propylaea under the casing. The south-west reach of the Hellenic wall terminates westwards in a solid tower about 30 feet high, which is surmounted by the temple of Nike Apteros, described below. This tower commanded the unshielded side of any troops approaching the gate, which, there is good reason to believe, was in the same position as the present entrance. After passing through the gate and proceeding northwards underneath the west face of the tower, we come to the Propylaea. The effect of emerging from the dark gate and narrow passage to the magnificent marble staircase, 70 feet broad, surmounted by the Propylaea, must have been exceedingly grand. A small portion of the ancient Pelasgic wall still remains near the south-east angle of the southern wing of the Propylaea, now occupied by a lofty mediaeval tower. After passing the gateways of the Propylaea we come upon the area of the Acropolis, of which considerably more than half has been excavated under the auspices of the Greek government. Upon entering the enclosure of the Acropolis the colossal statue of Athena Promachus was seen a little to the left, and the Parthenon to the right; both offering angular views, according to the usual custom of the Greeks in arranging the approaches to their public buildings. The road leading upwards in the direction of the Parthenon is slightly worked out of the rock; it is at first of considerable breadth, and afterwards becomes narrower. On the right hand, as we leave the Propylaea, and on the road itself, are traces of 5 votive altars, one of which is dedicated to Athena Hygieia. Further en, to the left of the road, is the site of the statue of Athena Promachus. Northwards of this statue, we come to a staircase close to the edge of the rock, partly built, partly cut out, leading to the grotto of Aglaurus. This staircase passes downwards through a deep cleft in the rock, nearly parallel in its direction to the outer wall, and opening out in the face of the cliff a little below its foundation. In the year 1845 it was possible to creep into this passage, and ascend into the Acropolis; but since that time the entrance has been closed up. Close to the Parthenon the original soil was formed of made ground in three layers of chips of stone; the lowest being of the rock of the Acropolis, the next of Pentelic marble, and the uppermost of Peiriaic stone. In the extensive excavation made to the east of the Parthenon there was found a number of drums of columns, in a more or less perfect state, some much shattered, others apparently rough from the quarry, others partly worked and discarded in consequence of some defect in the material. The ground about them was strewed with marble chips; and some sculptors' tools, and jars containing red colour were found with them. In front of the eastern portico of the Parthenon we find considerable remains of a level platform, partly of smoothed rock, and partly of Peiraic paving. North of this platform is the highest part of the Acropolis. Westwards of this spot we arrive at the area between the Parthenon and Erechtheium, which slopes from the former to the latter. Near the Parthenon is a small well, or rather mouth of a cistern, excavated in the rock, which may have been supplied with water from the roof of the temple. Close to the south, or Caryatid portico of the Erechtheium, is a small levelled area on which was probably placed one of the many altars or statues surrounding that temple.
  Before quitting the general plan of the Acropolis, Mr. Penrose calls attention to the remarkable absence of parallelism among the several buildings. Except the Propylaea and Parthenon, which were perhaps intended to bear a definite relation to one another, no two are parallel. This asymmetria is productive of very great beauty; for it not only obviates the dry uniformity of too many parallel lines, but also produces exquisite varieties of light and shade. One of the most happy instances of this latter effect is in the temple of Nike Apteros, in front of the southern wing of the Propylaea. The facade of this temple and pedestal of Agrippa, which is opposite to it, remain in shade for a considerable time after the front of the Propylaea has been lighted up; and they gradually receive every variety of light, until the sun is sufficiently on the decline to shine nearly equally on all the western faces of the entire group. Mr. Penrose observes that a similar want of parallelism in the separate parts is found to obtain in several of the finest mediaeval structures, and may conduce in some degree to the beauty of the magnificent Piazza of St. Marc at Venice.

2. The Propylaea.

The road up the western slope of the Acropolis led from the agora, and was paved with slabs of Pentelic marble. At the summit of the rock Pericles caused a magnificent building to be constructed, which might serve as a suitable entrance (Propulaia) to the wonderful works of architecture and sculpture within:
     Opsesthe de: kai gar anoignumenon psophos ede ton Propulaion.
     All ololuxate phainomenaisin tais archaiaisin Athenais,
     Kai thaumastais kai poluumnois, hin ho kleinos Demos enoikei. (Aristoph. Equit. 1326.)

The Propylaea were considered one of the masterpieces of Athenian art, and are mentioned along with the Parthenon as the great architectural glory of the Periclean age. When Epaminondas was urging the Thebans to rival the glory of Athens, he told them that they must uproot the Propylaea of the Athenian Acropolis, and plant them in front of the Cadmean citadel.
  The architect of the Propylaea was Mnesicles. It was commenced in the archonship of Euthymenes, B.C. 437, and was completed in the short space of five years (Plut. Pericl. 13). The building was constructed entirely of Pentelic marble, and covered the whole of the western end of the Acropolis, which was 168 feet in breadth. The central part of the building consisted of two Doric hexastyle porticoes, covered with a roof of white marble, which attracted the particular notice of Pausanias (i. 22.4). Of these porticoes the western faced the city, and the eastern the interior of the Acropolis; the latter, owing to the rise of the ground, being higher than the former. They were divided into two unequal halves by a wall, pierced by five gates or doors, by which the Acropolis was entered. The western portico was 43 feet in depth, and the eastern about half this depth; and they were called Propylaea from their forming a vestibule to the five gates or doors just mentioned. Each portico or vestibule consisted of a front of six fluted Doric columns, supporting a pediment, the columns being 4 1/2 feet in diameter, and nearly 29 feet in height. Of the five gates the one in the centre was the largest, and was equal in breadth to the space between the two central columns in the portico in front. It was by this gate that the carriages and horsemen entered the Acropolis, and the marks of the chariotwheels worn in the rock are still visible. The doors on either side of the central one were much smaller both in height and breadth, and designed for the admission of foot passengers only. The roof of the western portico was supported by two rows of three Ionic columns each, between which was the road to the central gate.
  The central part of the building which we have been describing, was 58 feet in breadth, and consequently did not cover the whole width of the rock: the remainder was occupied by two wings, which projected 26 feet in front of the western portico. Each of these wings was built in the form of Doric temples, and communicated with the adjoining angle of the great portico. In the northern wing (on the left hand to a person ascending the Acropolis) a porch of 12 feet in depth conducted into a chamber of 35 feet by 30, usually called the Pinacotheca, from its walls being covered with paintings (oikema echon graphas, Paus. i. 22.6). The southern wing (on the right hand to a person ascending the Acropolis) consisted only of a porch or open gallery of 26 feet by 17, which did not conduct into any chamber behind. On the western front of this southern wing stood the small temple of Nike Apteros (Nike Apteros), the Wingless Victory (Paus. i. 22.4). The spot occupied by this temple commands a wide prospect of the sea, and it was here that Aegeus is said to have watched his son's return from Crete. From this part of the rock he threw himself, when he saw the black sail on the mast of Theseus. Later writers, in order to account for the name of the Aegaean sea, relate that Aegeus threw himself from the Acropolis into the sea, which is three miles off.
  There are still considerable remains of the Propylaea. The eastern portico, together with the adjacent parts, was thrown down about 1656 by an explosion of gunpowder which had been deposited in that place; but the inner wall, with its five gateways, still exists. The northern wing is tolerably perfect; but the southern is almost entirely destroyed: two columns of the latter are seen imbedded in the adjacent walls of the mediaeval tower.

  The Temple of Nike Apteros requires a few words. In the time of Pericles, Nike or Victory was figured as a young female with golden wings (Nike petetai pterugoin chrusain, Aristoph. Av. 574); but the more ancient statues of the goddess are said to have been without wings. Nike Apteros was identified with Athena, and was called Nike Athena. Standing as she did at the exit from the Acropolis, her aid was naturally implored by persons starting on a dangerous enterprise. (Nike t' Athana Polias, he sozei m aei, Soph. Philoct. 134.) Hence, the opponents of Lysistrata, upon reaching the top of the ascent to the Acropolis, invoke Nike (despoina Nike xungenou), before whose temple they were standing. This temple was still in existence when Spon and Wheler visited Athens in 1676; but in 1751 nothing remained of it but some traces of the foundation and fragments of masonry lying in the neighbourhood of its former site. There were also found in a neighbouring wall four slabs of its sculptured frieze, which are now in the British Museum. It seemed that this temple had perished utterly; but the stones of which it was built were discovered in the excavations of the year 1835, and it has been rebuilt with the original materials under the auspices of Ross and Schaubert. The greater part of its frieze was also discovered at the same time. The temple now stands on its original site, and at a distance looks very much like a new building, with its white marble columns and walls glittering in the sun.
  This temple is of the class called Amphiprostylus Tetrastylus, consisting of a cella with four Ionic columns at either front, but with none on the sides. It is raised upon a stylobate of 3 feet, and is 27 feet in length from east to west, and 18 feet in breadth. The columns, including the base and the capital, are 13 1/2 feet high, and the total height of the temple to the apex of the pediment, including the stylobate, is 23 feet. The frieze, which runs round the whole of the exterior of the building, is 1 foot 6 inches high, and is adorned with sculptures in high relief. It originally consisted of fourteen pieces of stone, of which twelve, or the fragments of twelve, now remain. Several of these are so mutilated that it is difficult to make out the subject; but some of them evidently represent a battle between Greeks and Persians, or other Oriental barbarians. It is supposed that the two long sides were occupied with combats of horsemen, and that the western end represented a battle of foot soldiers. This building must have been erected after the battle of Salamis, since it could not have escaped the Persians, when they destroyed every thing upon the Acropolis; and the style of art shows that it could not have been later than the age of Pericles. But, as it is never mentioned among the buildings of this statesman, it is generally ascribed to Cimon, who probably built it at the same time as the southern wall of the Acropolis. Its sculptures were probably intended to commemorate the recent victories of the Greeks over the Persians.

Pedestal of Agrippa. On the western front of the northern wing of the Propylaea there stands at present a lofty pedestal, about 12 feet square and 27 high, which supported some figure or figures, as is clear from the holes for stanchions on its summit. Moreover we may conclude from the size of the pedestal that the figure or figures on its summit were colossal or equestrian. Pausanias, in describing the Propylaea, speaks of the statues of certain horsemen, respecting which he was in doubt whether they were the sons of Xenophon, or made for the sake of ornament (es euprepeian); and as in the next clause he proceeds to speak of the temple of Nike on the right hand (or southern wing) of the Propylaea, we may conclude that these statues stood in front of the northern wing (Paus. i. 22.4). Now, it has been well observed by Leake, that the doubt of Pausanias, as to the persons for whom the equestrian statues were intended, could not have been sincere; and that, judging from his manner on other similar occasions, we may conclude that equestrian statues of Gryllus and Diodorus, the two sons of Xenophon, had been converted, by means of new inscriptions, into those of two Romans, whom Pausanias has not named. This conjecture is confirmed by an inscription on the base, which records the name of M. Agrippa in his third consulship; and it may be that the other Roman was Augustus himself, who was the colleague of Agrippa in his third consulship. It appears that both statues stood on the same pedestal, and accordingly they are so represented in the accompanying restoration of the Propylaea.

3. The Parthenon.
The Parthenon (Parthenon = the Virgin?s House) was the great glory of the Acropolis, and the most perfect production of Grecian architecture. It derived its name from its being the temple of Athena Parthenos (Athena Parthenos), or Athena the Virgin, a name given to her as the invincible goddess of war. It was also called Hecatompedos or Hecatompedon, the Temple of One Hundred Feet, from its breadth; and sometimes Parthenon Hecatompedos. It was built under the administration of Pericles, and was completed in B.C. 438. We do not know when it was commenced; but notwithstanding the rapidity with which all the works of Pericles were executed, its erection could not have occupied less than eight years, since the Propylaea occupied five. The architects, according to Plutarch, were Callicrates and Ictinus: other writers generally mention Ictinus alone (Strab. ix.; Paus. viii. 41.9). Ictinus wrote a work upon the temple. (Vitruv. vii. Praef.) The general superintendence of the erection of the whole building was entrusted to Pheidias.
  The Parthenon was probably built on the site of an earlier temple destroyed by the Persians. This is expressly asserted by an ancient grammarian, who states that the Parthenon was 50 feet greater than the temple burnt by the Persians (Hesych. s. v. Hekatompedos), a measure which must have reference to the breadth of the temple, and not to its length. The only reason for questioning this statement is the silence of the ancient writers respecting an earlier Parthenon, and the statement of Herodotus (vii. 53) that the Persians set fire to the Acropolis, after plundering the temple (to hiron), as if there had been only one; which, in that case, must have been the Erechtheium, or temple of Athena Polias. But, on the other hand, we find under the stylobate of the present Parthenon the foundations of another and much older building; and to this more ancient temple probably belonged the portions of the columns inserted in the northern wall of the Acropolis, of which we have already spoken.
  The Parthenon stood on the highest part of the Acropolis. Its architecture was of the Doric order, and of the purest kind. It was built entirely of Pentelic marble, and rested upon a rustic basement of ordinary limestone. The contrast between the limestone of the basement and the splendid marble of the superstructure enhanced the beauty of the latter. Upon the basement stood the stylobate or platform, built of Pentelic marble, five feet and a half in height, and composed of three steps. The temple was raised so high above the entrance to the Acropolis, both by its site and by these artificial means, that the pavement of the peristyle was nearly on a level with the summit of the Propylaea. The dimensions of the Parthenon, taken from the upper step of the stylobate, were about 228 feet in length, 101 feet in breadth, and 66 feet in height to the top of the pediment. It consisted of a sekos or cella, surrounded by a peristyle, which had eight columns at either front, and seventeen at either side (reckoning the corner columns twice), thus containing forty-six columns in all. These columns were 6 feet 2 inches in diameter at the base, and 34 feet in height. Within the peristyle at either end, there was an interior range of six columns, of 5 1/2 feet in diameter, standing before the end of the cella, and forming, with the prolonged walls of the cella, an apartment before the door. These interior columns were on a level with the floor of the cella, and were ascended by two steps from the peristyle. The cella was divided into two chambers of unequal [Figure] size, of which the Eastern chamber or naos was about 98 feet, and the Western chamber or opisthodomus about 43 feet.4 The ceiling of both these chambers was supported by inner rows of columns. In the eastern chamber there were twenty-three columns, of the Doric order, in two stories, one over the other, ten on each side, and three on the western return: the diameter of these columns was about three feet and a half at the base. In the western chamber there were four columns, the position of which is marked by four large slabs, symmetrically placed in the pavement. These columns were about four feet in diameter, and were probably of the Ionic order, as in the Propylaea. Technically the temple is called Peripteral Octastyle.
  Such was the simple structure of this magnificent building, which, by its united excellencies of materials, design, and decorations, was the most perfect ever executed. Its dimensions of 228 feet by 101, with a height of 66 feet to the top of the pediment, were sufficiently great to give a appear. ance of grandeur and sublimity; and this impression was not disturbed by any obtrusive subdivision of parts, such as is found to diminish the effect of many larger modern buildings, where the same singleness of design is not apparent. In the Parthenon there was nothing to divert the spectator's contemplation from the simplicity and majesty of mass and outline, which forms the first and most remarkable object of admiration in a Greek temple; for the statues of the pediments, the only decoration which was very conspicuous by its magnitude and position, having been inclosed within frames which formed an essential part of the designs of either front, had no more obtrusive effect than an ornamented capital to an unadorned column. The whole building was adorned within and without with the most exquisite pieces of sculpture, executed under the direction of Pheidias by different artists. The various architectural members of the upper part of the building were enriched with positive colours, of which traces are still found. The statues and the reliefs, as well as the members of architecture, were enriched with various colours; and the weapons, the reins of horses, and other accessories, were of metal, and the eyes of some of the figures were inlaid.
  Of the sculptures of the Parthenon the grandest and most celebrated was the colossal statue of the Virgin Goddess, executed by the hand of Pheidias himself. It stood in the eastern or principal apartment of the cella; and as to its exact position some remarks are made below. It belonged to that kind of work which the Greeks called chryselephantine; ivory being employed for those parts of the statue which were unclothed, while the dress and other ornaments were of solid gold. This statue represented the goddess standing, clothed with a tunic reaching to the ankles, with her spear in her left hand, and an image of victory, four cubits high, in her right. She was girded with the aegis, and had a helmet on her head, and her shield rested on the ground by her side. The height of the statue was twenty-six cubits, or nearly forty feet. The weight of the gold upon the statue, which was so affixed as to be removable at pleasure, is said by Thucydides (ii. 13) to have been 40 talents, by Philochorus 44, and by other writers 50: probably the statement of Philochorus is correct, the others being round numbers. It was finally robbed of its gold by Lachares, who made himself tyrant of Athens, when Demetrius was besieging the city (Paus. i. 25.5). A fuller account of this masterpiece of art is given in the Dictionary of Biography (see Pheidias, the ivory and gold statue of Atlena in the Parthenon).
  The sculptures on the outside of the Parthenon have been described so frequently that it is unnecessary to speak of them at any length on the present occasion. These various pieces of sculpture were all closely connected in subject, and were intended to commemorate the history and the honours of the goddess of the temple, as the tutelary deity of Athens.
1. The Tympana of the Pediments (i. e. the inner flat portion of the triangular gable-ends of the roof above the two porticoes) were filled with two compositions in sculpture, each nearly 80 feet in length, and consisting of about 24 colossal statues. The eastern or principal front represented the birth of Athena from the head of Zeus, and the western the contest between Athena and Poseidon for the land of Attica. The mode in which the legend is represented, and the identification of the figures, have been variously explained by archaeologists, to whose works upon the subject a reference is given below.
2. The Metopes, between the Triglyphs in the frieze of the entablature (i. e. the upper of the two portions into which the surface between the columns and the roof is divided), were filled with sculptures in high-relief. Each tablet was 4 feet 3 inches square. There were 92 in all, 14 on each front, and 32 on each side. They represented a variety of subjects relating to the exploits of the goddess herself, or to those of the indigenous heroes of Attica. Those on the south side related to the battle of the Athenians with the Centaurs: of these the British Museum possesses sixteen.
3. The Frieze, which ran along outside the wall of the cella, and within the external columns which surround the building, was sculptured with a representation of the Panathenaic festival in very low relief. Being under the ceiling of the peristyle, the frieze could not receive any direct light from the rays of the sun, and was entirely lighted from below by the reflected light from the pavement; consequently it was necessary for it to be in low relief, for any bold projection of form would have interfered with the other parts. The frieze was 3 feet 4 inches in height, and 520 feet in length. A large number of the slabs of this frieze was brought to England by Lord Elgin, with the sixteen metopes just mentioned, and several of the statues of the pediments: the whole collection was purchased by the nation in 1816, and deposited in the British Museum.
  Among the many other ornaments of the temple we may mention the gilded shields, which were placed upon the architraves of the two fronts beneath the metopes. Between the shields there were inscribed the names of the dedicators. The impressions left by these covered shields are still visible upon the architraves; the shields themselves were carried off by Lachares, together with the gold of the statue of the goddess (Paus. i. 25.5). The inner walls of the cella were decorated with paintings; those of the Pronaos, or Prodoms, were partly painted by Protogenes of Caunus (Plin. xxxv. 10. s. 36.20); and in the Hecatompedon there were paintings representing Themistocles and Heliodorus (Paus. i. 1.2, 37.1).
  We have already seen that the temple was some-times called Parthenon, and sometimes Hecatompedon; but we know that these were also names of separate divisions of the temple. There have been found among the ruins in the Acropolis many official records of the treasurers of the Parthenon inscribed upon marble, containing an account of the gold and silver vessels, the coin, bullion, and other valuables preserved in the temple. From these inscriptions we learn that there were four distinct divisions of the temple, called respectively the Pronaos (Pronaos, Proneion), the Hecatompedon (Ekatompedon), the Parthenon (Parthenon), and the Opisthodomus (Opisthodomos).
  Respecting the position of the Pronaos there can be no doubt, as it was the name always given to the hall or ambulatory through which a person passed to the cella. The Pronaos was also, though rarely, called Prodomus (Prodomos, Philostr. Vit. Apoll. ii. 10), But as to the Opisthodomus there has been great difference of opinion. There seems, however, good reason for believing that the Greeks used the word Opisthodomus to signify a corresponding hall in the back-front of a temple; and that as Pronaos, or Prodomus, answered to the Latin anticum, so Opisthodomus was equivalent to the Latin posticum. (To pro [tou sekou] prodomos, kai to katopin opisthodomos, Pollux, i. 6; comp. en tois pronaois kai tois opisthodomois,, Diod. xiv. 41). Lucian (Herod. 1) describes Herodotus as reading his history to the assembled Greeks at Olympia from the Opisthodomus of the temple of Zeus. If we suppose Herodotus to have stood in the hall or ambulatory leading out of the back portico, the description is intelligible, as the great crowd of auditors might then have been assembled in the portico and on the steps below; and we can hardly imagine that Lucian could have conceived the Opisthodomus to be an inner room, as some modern writers maintain. Other passages might be adduced to prove that the Opisthodomus in the Greek temples ordinarily bore the sense we have given to it (comp. Paus. v. 13.1, 16.1); and we believe that the Opisthodomus of the Parthenon originally indicated the same part, though at a later time, as we shall see presently, it was used in a different signification.
  The Hecatompedon must have been the eastern or principal chamber of the cella. This follows from its name; for as the whole temple was called Hecatompedon, from its being 100 feet broad, so the eastern chamber was called by the same name from its being 100 feet long (its exact length is 98 feet 7 inches). This was the naos, or proper shrine of the temple; and here accordingly was placed the colossal statue by Pheidias. In the records of the treasures of the temple the Hecatompedon contained a golden crown placed upon the head of the statue of Nike, or Victory, which stood upon the hand of the great statue of Athena, thereby plainly showing that the latter must have been placed in this division of the temple. There has been considerable dispute respecting the disposition of the columns in the interior of this chamber; but the removal of the Turkish Mosque and other incumbrances from the pavement has now put an end to all doubt upon the subject. It has already been stated that there were 10 columns on each side, and 3 on the western return; and that upon them there was an upper row of the same number. These columns were thrown down by the explosion in 1687, but they were still standing when Spon and Wheler visited Athens. Wheler says, on both sides, and towards the door, is a kind of gallery made with two ranks of pillars, 22 below and 23 above. The odd pillar is over the arch of the entrance which was left for the passage. The central column of the lower row had evidently been removed in order to effect an entrance from the west, and the arch of the entrance had been substituted for it. Wheler says a kind of gallery, because it was probably an architrave supporting the rank of columns, and not a gallery. Recent observations have proved that these columns were Doric, and not Corinthian, as some writers had supposed, in consequence of the discovery of the fragment of a capital of that order in this chamber. But it has been conjectured, that although all the other columns were Doric, the central column of the western return, which would have been hidden from the Pronaos by the statue, might have been Corinthian, since the central column of the return of the temple at Bassae seems to have been Corinthian.
  If the preceding distribution of the other parts of the temple is correct, the Parthenon must have been the western or smaller chamber of the cella. Judging from the name alone, we should have naturally concluded that the Parthenon was the chamber containing the statue of the virgin goddess; but there appear to have been two reasons why this name was not given to the eastern chamber. First, the length of the latter naturally suggested the appropriation to it of the name of Hecatompedon; and secondly, the eastern chamber occupied the ordinary position of the adytum, containing the statue of the deity, and may therefore have been called from this circumstance the Virgin?s-Chamber, though in reality it was not the abode of the goddess. It appears, from the inscriptions already referred to, that the Parthenon was used in the Peloponnesian war as, the public treasury; for while we find in the Hecatompedon such treasures as would serve for the purpose of ornament, the Parthenon contained bullion, and a great many miscellaneous articles which we cannot suppose to have been placed in the shrine alongside of the statue of the goddess. But we know from later authorities that the treasury in the temple was called Opisthodomus; and we may therefore conclude, that as the Parthenon was the name of the whole building, the western chamber ceased to be called by this name, and acquired that of the Opisthodomus, which was originally the entrance to it. It appears further from the words of one of the Scholiasts (ad Aristoph. l. c.), as well as from the existing remains of the temple, that the eastern and western chambers were separated by a wall, and that there was no direct communication between them. Hence we can the more easily understand the account of Plutarch, who relates that the Athenians, in order to pay the greatest honour to Demetrius Poliorcetes, lodged him in the Opisthodomus of the Parthenon as a guest of the goddess (Plut. Demetr. 23).
  In the centre of the pavement of the Hecatompedon there is a place covered with Peiraic stone, and not with marble, like the rest of the pavement. It has been usually supposed that this was the foundation on which the statue of then goddess rested; but this has been denied by K. F. Hermann, who maintains that there was an altar upon this spot. There can however be little doubt that the common opinion is correct, since there is no other place in the building to which we can assign the position of the statue. It could not have stood in the western chamber, since this was separated by a wall from the eastern. It could not have stood at the western extremity of the eastern chamber, where Ussing places it, because this part of the chamber was occupied by the western return of the interior columns (see ground-plan). Lastly, supposing the spot covered with Peiraic stone to represent an altar, the statue could not have stood between this spot and the door of the temple. The only alternative left is placing the statue either upon the above-mentioned spot, or else between it and the western return of the interior columns, where there is scarcely sufficient space left for it.
  There has been a great controversy among modern scholars as to whether any part of the roof of the eastern chamber of the Parthenon was hypaethral, or pierced with an opening to the sky. Most English writers, following Stuart, had arrived at a conclusion in the affirmative; but the discussion has been recently reopened in Germany, and it seems impossible to arrive at any definite conclusion upon the subject. We know that, as a general rule, the Grecian temples had no windows in the walls; and consequently the light was admitted either through some opening in the roof, or through the door alone. The latter appears to have been the case in smaller temples, which could obtain sufficient light from the open door; but larger temples must necessarily have been in comparative darkness, if they received light from no other quarter. And although the temple was the abode of the deity, and not a place of meeting, yet it is impossible to believe that the Greeks left in comparative darkness the beautiful paintings and statues with which they decorated the interior of their temples. We have moreover express evidence that light was admitted into temples through the roof. This appears to have been done in two ways, either by windows or openings in the tiles of the roof, or by leaving a large part of the latter open to the sky. The former was the case in the temple of Eleusis. There can be little doubt that the naos or eastern chamber of the Parthenon must have obtained its light in one or other of these ways; but the testimony of Vitruvius (iii. 1) cannot be quoted in favour of the Parthenon being hypaethral, as there are strong reasons for believing the passage to be corrupt. If the Parthenon was really hypaethral, we must place the opening to the sky between the statue and the eastern door, since we cannot suppose that such an exquisite work as the chryselephantine statue of Athena was not protected by a covered roof.
Before quitting the Parthenon, there is one interesting point connected with its construction, which must not be passed over without notice.
  It has been discovered within the last few years, that in the Parthenon, and in some others of the purer specimens of Grecian architecture, there is a systematic deviation from ordinary rectilinear construction. Instead of the straight lines in ordinary architecture, we find various delicate curves in the Parthenon. It is observed that the most important curves in point of extent, are those which form the horizontal lines of the building where they occur; such as the edges of the steps, and the lines of the entablature, which are usually considered to be straight level lines, but in the steps of the Parthenon, and some other of the best examples of Greek Doric are convex curves, lying in vertical plains; the lines of the entablature being also curves nearly parallel to the steps and in vertical plains. The existence of curves in Greek buildings is mentioned by Vitruvius (iii. 3), but it was not until the year 1837, when much of the rubbish which encumbered the stylobate of the Parthenon had been removed by the operations carried on by the Greek government, that the curvature was discovered by Mr. George Pennethorne, an English architect then at Athens. Subsequently the curves were noticed by Messrs. Hofer and Schaubert, German architects, and communicated by them to the Wiener Bauzeitung. More recently a full and elaborate account of these curves has been given by Mr. Penrose, who went to Athens under the patronage of the Society of Dilettanti for the purpose of investigating this subject, and who published the results of his researches in the magnificent work, to which we have already so often referred. Mr. Penrose remarks that it is not surprising that the curves were not sooner discovered from an inspection of the building, since the amount of curvature is so exquisitely managed that it is not perceptible to a stranger standing opposite to the front ; and that before the excavations the steps were so much encumbered as to have prevented any one looking along their whole length. The curvature may now be easily remarked by a person who places his eye in such a position as to look along the lines of the step or entablature from end to end, which in architectural language is called boning.
  For all architectural details we refer to Mr. Penrose's work, who has done far more to explain the construction of the Parthenon than any previous writer. There are two excellent models of the Parthenon by Mr. Lucas, in the Elgin Room at the British Museum, one a restoration of the temple, and the other its ruined aspect.
  It has been already stated that the Parthenon was converted into a Christian church, dedicated to the Virgin-Mother, probably in the sixth century. Upon the conquest of Athens by the Turks, it was changed into a mosque, and down to the year 1687 the building remained almost entire with the exception of the roof. Of its condition before this year we have more than one account. In 1674 drawings of its sculptures were made by Carrey, an artist employed for this purpose by the Marquis de Nointel, the French ambassador at Constantinople. These drawings are still extant and have been of great service in the restoration of the sculptures, especially in the pediments. In 1676 Athens was visited by Spon and Wheler, each of whom published an account of the Parthenon (Spon, Voyage du Levant, 1678; Wheler, Journey into Greece, 1682).
  In 1687, when Athens was besieged by the Venetians under Morosini, a shell, falling into the Parthenon, inflamed the gunpowder, which had been placed by the Turks in the eastern chamber, and reduced the centre of the Parthenon to a heap of ruins. The walls of the eastern chamber were thrown down together with all the interior columns, and the adjoining columns of the peristyle. Of the northern side of the peristyle eight columns were wholly or partially thrown down; and of the southern, six columns; while of the pronaos only one column was left standing. The two fronts escaped, together with a portion of the western chamber. Morosini, after the capture of the city, attempted to carry off some of the statues in the western pediment; but, owing to the unskilfulness of the Venetians, they were thrown down as they were being lowered, and were dashed in pieces.
  At the beginning of the present century, many of the finest sculptures of the Parthenon were removed to England, as has been mentioned above. In 1827 the Parthenon received fresh injury, from the bombardment of the city in that year; but even in its present state of desolation, the magnificence of its ruins still strikes the spectator with astonishment and admiration.

4. The Erechtheium.
The Erechtheium (Erechtheion) was the most revered of all the sanctuaries of Athens, and was closely connected with the earliest legends of Attica. Erechtheus or Erichthonius, for the same person is signified under the two names, occupies a most important position in the Athenian religion. His story is related variously; but it is only necessary on the present occasion to refer to those portions of it which. serve to illustrate the following account of the building which bears his name. Homer represents Erechtheus as born of the Earth, and brought up by the goddess Athena, who adopts him as her ward, and instals him in her temple at Athens, where the Athenians offer to him annual sacrifices (Hom. Il. ii. 546, Od. vii. 81). Later writers call Erechtheus or Erichthonius the son of Hephaestus and the Earth, but they also relate that he was brought up by Athena, who made him her companion in her temple. According to one form of the legend he was placed by Athena in a chest, which was entrusted to the charge of Aglaurus, Pandrosus, and Herse, the daughters of Cecrops, with strict orders not to open it; but that Aglaurus and Herse, unable to control their curiosity, disobeyed the command; and upon seeing the child in the form of a serpent entwined with a serpent, they were seized with madness, and threw themselves down from the steepest part of the Acropolis (Apollod. iii. 14.6; Hygin. Fab. 166; Paus. i. 18.2). Another set of traditions represented Erechtheus as the god Poseidon. In the Erechtheium he was worshipped under the name of Poseidon Erechtheus; and one of the family of the Butadae, which traced their descent from him, was his hereditary priest (Apollod. iii. 15.1; Plut. Vit. X. Orat. ; Xen. Sympos. 8.40). Hence we may infer with Mr. Grote that the first and oldest conception of Athens and the sacred Acropolis places it under the special protection, and represents it as the settlement and favourite abode of Athena, jointly with Poseidon; the latter being the inferior, though the chosen companion of the former, and therefore exchanging his divine appellation for the cognomen of Erechtheus.
  The foundation of the Erechtheium is thus connected with the origin of the Athenian religion. We have seen that according to Homer a temple of Athena existed on the Acropolis before the birth of Erechtheus; but Erechtheus was usually regarded as the founder of the temple, since he was the chief means of establishing the religion of Athena in Attica. This temple was also the place of his interment, and was named after him. It contained several objects of the greatest interest to every Athenian. Here was the most ancient statue of Athena Polias, that is, Athena, the guardian of the city. This statue was made of olive-wood, and was said to have fallen down from heaven. Here was the sacred olive tree, which Athena called forth from the earth in her contest with Poseidon for the possession of Attica; here also was the well of salt water which Poseidon produced by the stroke of his trident, the impression of which was seen upon the rock; and here, lastly, was the tomb of Cecrops as well as that of Erechtheus. The building also contained a separate sanctuary of Athena Polias, in which the statue of the goddess was placed, and a separate sanctuary of Pandrosus, the only one of the sisters who remained faithful to her trust. The more usual name of the entire structure was the Erechtheium, which consisted of the two temples of Athena Polias and Pandrosus. But the whole building was also frequently called the temple of Athena Polias, in consequence of the importance attached to this part of the edifice. In the ancient inscription mentioned below, it is simply called the temple which contained the ancient statue (ho neos en ho to archaion agalma).
  The original Erechtheium was burnt by the Persians; but the new temple was built upon the ancient site. This could not have been otherwise, since it was impossible to remove either the salt well or the olive tree, the latter of which sacred objects had been miraculously spared. Though it had been burnt along with the temple, it was found on the second day to have put forth a new sprout of a cubit in length, or, according to the subsequent improvement of the story, of two cubits in length (Herod. viii. 55; Paus. i. 27.2). The new Erechtheium was a singularly beautiful building, and one of the great triumphs of Athenian architecture. It was of the Ionic order, and in its general appearance formed a striking contrast to the Parthenon of the Doric order by its side. The rebuilding of the Erechtheium appears to have been delayed by the determination of the people to erect a new temple exclusively devoted to their goddess, and of the greatest splendour and magnificence. This new temple, the Parthenon, which absorbed the public attention and means, was followed by the Propylaea; and it was probably not till the completion of the latter in the year before the Peloponnesian war, that the rebuilding of the Erechtheium was commenced, or at least continued, with energy. The Peloponnesian war would naturally cause the works to proceed slowly until they were quite suspended, as we learn from a very interesting inscription, bearing the date of the archonship of Diodes, that is, B.C. 409-8. This inscription, which was discovered by Chandler, and is now in the British Museum, is the report of a commission appointed by the Athenians to take an account of the unfinished parts of the building. The commission consisted of two inspectors (epistatai), an architect (architekton) named Philocles, and a scribe (grammateus). It appears from this inscription that the principal parts of the building were finished; and we may conclude that they had been completed some time before, since Herodotus (viii. 55), who probably wrote in the early years of the Peloponnesian war, describes the temple as containing the olive tree and the salt well, without making any allusion to its being in an incomplete state. The report of the commission was probably followed by an order for the completion of the work; but three years afterwards the temple sustained considerable damage from a fire (Xen. Hell. i. 6.1). The troubles of the Athenians at the close of the Peloponnesian war must again have withdrawn attention from the building; and we therefore cannot place its completion much before B.C. 393, when the Athenians, after the restoration of the Long Walls by Conon, had begun to turn their attention again to the embellishment of their city. The words of Xenophon in the passage quoted above -ho palaios tes Athenas neos- have created difficulty, because it has been thought that it could not have been called the old temple of Athena, inasmuch as it was so new as to be yet unfinished. But we know that the old temple of Athena was a name commonly given to the Erechtheium to distinguish it from the Parthenon. Thus Strabo (ix.) calls it, ho archaios naos ho tes Poliados
  The Erechtheium was situated to the north of the Parthenon, and close to the northern wall of the Acropolis. The existing ruins leave no doubt as to the exact form and appearance of the exterior of the building; but the arrangement of the interior is a matter of great uncertainty. The interior of the temple was converted into a Byzantine church, which is now destroyed; and the inner part of the building presents nothing but a heap of ruins, belonging partly to the ancient temple, and partly to the Byzantine church. The difficulty of understanding the arrangement of the interior is also increased by the obscurity of the description of Pausanias. Hence it is not surprising that almost every writer upon the subject has differed from his predecessor in his distribution of some parts of the building; though there are two or three important points in which most modern scholars are now agreed. The building has been frequently examined and described by architects; but no one has devoted to it so much time and careful attention as M. Tetaz, a French architect, who has published the results of his personal investigations in the Revue Archeologique for 1851 (parts 1 and 2). We, therefore, follow M. Tetaz in his restoration of the interior, with one or two slight alterations, at the same time reminding our readers that this arrangement must after all be regarded as, to a great extent, conjectural. The walls of the ruins, according to the measurement of Tetaz, are 20.034 French metres in length from east to west, and 11.215 metres in breadth from north to south.
  The form of the Erechtheium differs from every other known example of a Grecian temple. Usually a Grecian temple was an oblong figure, with two porticoes, one at its eastern, and the other at its western, end. The Erechtheium, on the contrary, though oblong in shape and having a portico at the eastern front, had no portico at its western end; but from either side of the latter a portico projected to the north and south, thus forming a kind of transept. Consequently the temple had three porticoes, called prostaseis in the inscription above mentioned, and which may be distinguished as the eastern, the northern, and the southern prostasis, or portico. The irregularity of the building is to be accounted for partly by the difference of the level of the ground, the eastern portico standing upon ground about 8 feet higher than the northern; but still more by the necessity of preserving the different sanctuaries and religious objects belonging to the ancient temple. The skill and ingenuity of the Athenian architects triumphed over these difficulties, and even converted them into beauties.
  The eastern portico stood before the principal entrance. This is proved by its facing the east, by its greater height, and also by the disposition of its columns. It consisted of six Ionic columns standing in a single line before the wall of the cella, the extremities of which are adorned with antae opposite to the extreme columns. Five of these columns are still standing.
  The northern portico, called in the inscription he prostasis he pros tou thuromatos, or the portico before the thyroma, stood before the other chief entrance. It also consisted of six Ionic columns, but only four of these are in front; the two others are placed, one in each flank, before a corresponding anta in the wall on either side of the door. These columns are all standing. They are about 3 feet higher, and nearly 6 inches greater in diameter, than those in the eastern portico. It must not, however, be inferred from this circumstance that the northern portico was considered of more importance than the eastern one; since the former appeared inferior from its standing on lower ground. Each of these porticoes stood before two large doors ornamented with great magnificence.
  The southern portico, though also called prostasis in the inscription, was of an entirely different character. Its roof was supported by six Caryatides, or columns, of which the shafts represented young maidens in long draperies, called hai Korai in the inscription. They are arranged in the same manner as the columns in the northern portico -namely, four in front, and one on either anta. They stand upon a basement eight feet above the exterior level; the roof which they support is flat, and about 15 feet above the floor of the building. The entire height of the portico, including the basement, was little more than half the height of the pitched roof of the temple. There appears to have been no access to this portico from the exterior of the building. There was no door in the wall behind this portico; and the only access to it from the interior of the building was by a small flight of steps leading out into the basement of the portico between the Caryatid and the anta on the eastern flank. All these steps may still be traced, and two of them are still in their place. At the bottom of them, on the floor of the building, there is a door opposite the great door of the northern porch. It is evident, from this arrangement, that this southern portico formed merely an appendage of that part of the Erechtheium to which the great northern door gave access. A few years ago the whole of this portico was in a state of ruins, but in 1846 it was restored by M. Piscatory, then the French ambassador in Greece. Four of the Caryatides were still standing; the fifth, which was found in an excavation, was restored to its former place, and a new figure was made in place of the sixth, which was, and is, in the British Museum.
  The western end of the building had no portico before it. The wall at this end consisted of a basement of considerable height, upon which were four Ionic columns, supporting an entablature. These four columns had half their diameters engaged in the wall, thus forming, with the two antae at the corners, five intercolumniations, corresponding to the front of the principal portico. The wall behind was pierced with three windows in the spaces between the engaged columns in the centre.
  The frieze of the building was composed of black Eleusinian marble, adorned with figures in low relief in white marble; but of this frieze only three portions are still in their place in the eastern portico.
  With respect to the interior of the building, it appears from an examination of the existing remains that it was divided by two transverse walls into three compartments, of which the eastern and the middle was about 24 feet each from east to west, and the western about 9 feet. The last was consequently a passage along the western wall, of the building, at one end of which was the great door of the northern portico, and at the other end the door of the staircase leading to the portico of the Caryatides. There can, therefore, be little doubt that this passage served as the pronaos of the central compartment. It, therefore, appears from the ruins themselves that the Erechtheium contained only two principal chambers. This is in accordance with the statement of Pausanias,who says (i. 26.5) that the Erechtheium was a double building (diploun oikema). He further states that the temple of Pandrosus was attached to that of Athena Polias (toi naoi tes Athenas Pandrosou naos suneches, i. 27.2). Now since Herodotus and other authors mention a temple of Erechtheus, it was inferred by Stuart and others that the building contained three temples -one of Erechtheus, a second of Athena Polias, and a third of Pandrosus. But, as we have remarked above, the Erechtheium was the name of the whole building, and it does not appear that Erechtheus had any shrine peculiar to himself. Thus the olive tree which is placed by Herodotus (viii. 55) in the temple of Erechtheus, is said by other writers to have stood in the temple of Pandrosus (Apollod. iii. 14.1; Philochorus, ap. Dionys. de Deinarch. 3). We may therefore safely conclude that the two temples, of which the Erechtheium consisted, were those of Athena Polias and of Pandrosus, to which there was access by the eastern and the northern porticoes respectively. That the eastern chamber was the temple of Athena Polias follows from the eastern portico being the more important of the two, as we have already shown.
  The difference of level between the floors of the two temples would seem to show that there was no direct communication between them. That there was, however, some means of communication between them appears from an occurrence recorded by Philochorus (ap. Dionys. l. c.), who relates that a dog entered the temple of Polias, and having penetrated (dusa) from thence into that of Pandrosus, there lay down at the altar of Zeus Herceius, which was under the olive tree. Tetaz supposes that the temple of Polias was separated from the two lateral walls of the building by two walls parallel to the latter, by means of which a passage was formed on either side, one on the level of the floor of the temple of Polias, and the other on the level of the floor of the Pandroseium; the former communicating between the two temples by a flight of steps, and the latter leading to the souterrains of the building.
  A portion of the building was called the Cecropium. Antiochus, who wrote about B.C. 423, related that Cecrops was buried in some part of the temple of Athena Polias (including under that name the whole edifice). In the inscription also the Cecropium is mentioned. Pausanias makes no mention of any sepulchral monuments either of Cecrops or of Erechtheus. Hence it may be inferred that none such existed; and that, as in the case of Theseus in the Theseium, the tradition of their interment was preserved by the names of Erechtheium and Cecropium, the former being applied to the whole building, and the latter to a portion of it. The position of the Cecropium is determined by the inscription, which speaks of the southern prostasis, or portico of Caryatides, as he prostasis he pros toi Kekropioi. The northern portico is described as pros tou thuromatos. From the pros governing a different case in these two instances, it has been justly inferred by Wordsworth, that in the former, the dative case signifies that the Caryatid portico was a part of, and attached to, the Cecropium; while, in the latter, the genitive indicates that the northern portico was only in the direction of or towards the portal. In addition to this there is no other part of the Pandroseium to which the Cecropium can be assigned. It cannot have been, as some writers have supposed, the western compartment -a passage between the northern and southern porticoes- since this was a part of the temple of Pandrosus, as we learn from the inscription, which describes the western wall as the wall before the Pandroseium (ho toichos ho pros tou Pandroseiou). Still less could it have been the central apartment, which was undoubtedly the cella of the Pandroseium. We may, therefore, conclude that the Caryatid portico, with the crypt below, was the Cecropium, or sepulchre of Cecrops. It is evident that this building, which had no access to it from the exterior, is not so much a portico as an adjunct, or a chapel of the Pandroseium, intended for some particular purpose, as Leake has observed.
  We may now proceed to examine the different objects in the building and connected with it. First, as to the temple of Athena Polias. In front of the portico was the altar of Zeus Hypatus, which Pausanias describes as situated before the entrance (pro tes esodou). In the portico itself (eselthousi, Paus.) were altars of Poseidon-Erechtheus, of Butes, and of Hephaestus. In the cella (en toi naoi), probably near the western wall, was the Palladium, or statue of the goddess. In front of the latter was the golden lamp, made by Callimachus, which was kept burning both day and night; it was filled with oil only once a year, and had a wick of Carpasian flax (the mineral Asbestus), whence the lamp was called ho asbestos luchnos (Strab. ix.). It is mentioned as one of the offences of the tyrant Aristion, that he allowed the fire of this lamp to go out during the siege of Athens by Sulla. Pausanias says, that a brazen palm tree rising above the lamp to the roof carried off the smoke. In other parts of the cella were a wooden Hermes, said to have been presented by Cecrops, a folding chair made by Daedalus, and spoils taken from the Persians. The walls of the temple were covered with pictures of the Butadae.
  The statue of Athena Polias, which was the most sacred statue of the goddess, was made of olive wood. It is said to have fallen down from heaven, and to have been a common offering of the demi many years before they were united in the city of Athens. It was emphatically the ancient statue; and, as Wordsworth has remarked, it had, in the time of Aeschylus, acquired the character of a proper name, not requiring to be distinguished by the definite article. Hence Athena says to Orestes (Aesch. Eum. 80.): hizou palaion ankathen labon bretas. It has been observed above that the Panathenaic peplos was dedicated to Athena Polias, and not to the Athena of the Parthenon. This appears from the following passage of Aristophanes (Au. 826), quoted by Wordsworth:
     tis dai theos Poliouchos estai;
     toi xanoumen ton peplon;
     ti d'oui?? Athenaian eomen Poliada;
Upon which passage the scholiast remarks: tei Athenai Poliadi ousei peplos egineto pampoikilos hon anepheron en tei pompei ton Panathenaion. The statue of Athena seems to have been covered with the peplus. A very ancient statue of Athena, which was discovered a few years back in the Aglaurium, is supposed by K. O. Muller to have been a copy of the old Athena Polias. A description of this statue, with three views of it, is given by Mr. Scharf in the Museum of Classical Antiquities. It is a sitting figure, 4 feet 6 inches in height. It has a very archaic character; the posture is formal and angular; the knees ate close together, but the left foot a little advanced; the head and arms are wanting.
  With respect to the objects in the Pandroseium, the first thing is to determine, if possible, the position of the olive tree and the salt well. That both of these were in the Pandroseium cannot admit of doubt. Two authors already quoted (Apollod. iii. 14.1; Philochor. ap. Dionys. de Deinarch. 3) expressly state that the olive tree stood in the temple of Pandrosus; and that such was the case with the salt well, also, appears from Pausanias (i. 26.5), who, after stating that the building is twofold, adds: in the inner part is a well of salt water, which is remarkable for sending forth a sound like that of waves when the wind is from the south. There is, also, the figure of a trident upon the rock: these are said to be evidences of the contention of Poseidon (with Athena) for Attica. This salt well is usually called Xalassa Erechtheis, or simply Xalassa (Apollod. iii. 14.1; Herod. viii. 55); and other writers mention the visible marks of Poseidon's trident. Leake supposed that both the well and the olive tree were in the Cecropium, or the southern portico, on the ground that the two were probably near each other, and that the southern portico, by its peculiar plan and construction, seems to have been intended expressly for the olive, since a wall, fifteen feet high, protected the trunk from injury, while the air was freely admitted to its foliage, between the six statues which supported the roof. But this hypothesis is disproved by the recent investigations of Tetaz, who states that the foundation of the floor of the portico is formed of a continuous mass of stones, which could not have received any vegetation. The olive tree could not, therefore, have been in the southern portico. M. Tetaz places it, with much probability, in the centre of the cella of the Pandroseium. He imagines that the lateral walls of the temple of Polias were continued under the form of columns in the Pandroseium, and that the inner space between these columns formed the cella of the temple, and was open to the sky. Here grew the olive-tree under the altar of Zeus Herceius according to the statement of Philochorus (ap. Dionys. l. c.). The description by Virgil (Aen. ii. 512) of the altar, at which Priam was slain, is applicable to the spot before us: Aedibus in mediis, nudoque sub aetheris axe Ingens ara fuit, juxtaque veterrima laurus Incumbens arae atque umbra complex Penates.
  The probable position of the salt well has been determined by Tetaz, who has discovered, under the northern portico, what appear to be the marks of Poseidon's trident. Upon the removal, in 1846, of the remains of a Turkish powder magazine, which encumbered the northern portico, Tetaz observed three holes sunk in the rock; and it is not unlikely that this was the very spot shown to devout persons, and to Pausanias among the number, as the memorial of Poseidon's contest with Athena. A drawing of them is given by Mr. Penrose, which we subjoin, with his description.
  They occur upon the surface of the rock of the Acropolis, about seven feet below the level of the pavement. These singular traces consist of three holes, partly natural and partly cut in the rock; that lettered a in the plan is close to the eastern anta of the portico; it is very irregular, and seems to form part of a natural fissure; b and c, near the surface, seem also to have been natural, but are hollowed into a somewhat cylindrical shape, between 2 and 3 feet deep and 8 and 9 in diameter; d is a receptacle, as may be presumed, for water, cut 1.0 deep in the rock, and connected with the holes b and c by means of a narrow channel, alto about 1.0 deep. The channel is produced for a short distance in the direction of a, but was perhaps discontinued on its being discovered that, owing to natural crevices, it would not hold water. At the bottom of b and c were found fragments of ordinary ancient pottery. There appears to have been a low and narrow doorway through the foundation of the wall, dividing this portico from the temple, to the underground space or crypt, where these holes occur, and also some communication from above, through a slab rather different from the rest, in the pavement of the portico immediately over them.
  Pausanias has not expressly mentioned any other objects as being in the Pandroseium, but we may presume that it contained a statue of Pandrosus, and an altar of Thallo, one of the Horae, to whom, he informs us elsewhere (ix. 35.1), the Athenians paid divine honours jointly with Pandrosus. He has also omitted to notice the oikouros ophis, or Erechthonian serpent, whose habitation in the Erechtheium was called drakaulos, and to whom honey cakes were presented every month. We have no means of determining the position of this drakaulos.
  The Erechtheium was surrounded on most sides by a Temenos or sacred inclosure, separated from the rest of the Acropolis by a wall. This Temenos was on a lower level than the temple, and the descent to it was by a flight of steps close to the eastern portico. It was bounded on the east by a wall, extending from this portico to the wall of the Acropolis, of which a part is still extant. On the north it was bounded by the wall of the Acropolis, and on the south by a wall extending from the southern portico towards the left wing of the Propylaea. Its limits to the west cannot be ascertained. In the Temenos, there were several statues mentioned by Pausanias, name y, that of the aged priestess Lysimacha, one cubit high (comp. Plin. xxxiv. 8. s. 19. 15); the colossal figures in brass of Erechtheus and Eumolpus, ready to engage in combat; some ancient wooden statues of Athena in the half burnt state in which they had been left by the Persians; the hunting of a wild boar; Cycnus fighting with Hercules; Theseus finding the slippers and sword of Aegeus under the rock; Theseus and the Marathonian bull; and Cylon, who attempted to obtain the tyranny at Athens. In the Temenos, also, was the habitation of two of the four maidens, called Arrephori, with their sphaerestra, or place for playing at ball. These two maidens remained a whole year in the Acropolis; and on the approach of the greater Panethenaea they received from the priestess of Polias a burden, the contents of which were unknown to themselves and to the priestess. With this burden they descended into a subterraneous natural cavern near the temple of Aphrodite in the gardens, where they deposited the burden they brought, and carried back another burden covered up (Paus. i. 27.3; Plut. Vit. X. Orat.; Harpocr., Suid., s. v. Deipnophoroi). It is probable that the Arrephori passed through the Aglaurium in their descent to the cavern above mentioned. The steps leading to the Aglaurium issued from the Temenos; and it is not impossible, considering the close connexion of the worship of Aglaurus with that of her sister Pandrosus, that the Aglaurium may have been considered as a part of the Temenos of the Erechtheium.

5. Other Monuments on the Acropolis.
The Propylaea, the Parthenon and the Erechtheium were the three chief buildings on the Acropolis; but its summit was covered with other temples, altars, statues and works of art, the number of which was so great as almost to excite our astonishment that space could be found for them all. Of these, however, we can only mention the most important.
(i.) The Statue of Athena Promachus, one of the most celebrated works of Pheidias, was a colossal bronze figure, and represented the goddess armed and in the very attitude of battle. Hence it was distinguished from the statues of Athena in the Parthenon and the Erechtheium, by the epithet of Promachus. This Athena was also called The Bronze, the Great Athena (he chalke he megale Athena, Dem. de Fals. Leg.). Its position has been already described. It stood in the open air nearly opposite the Propylaea, and was one of the first objects seen after passing through the gates of the latter. It was of gigantic size. It towered even above the roof of the Parthenon; and the point of its spear and the crest of its helmet were visible off the promontory of Sunium to ships approaching Athens (Paus.i.28.2; comp.Herod.v.77). With its pedestal it must have stood about 70 feet high. Its position and colossal proportions are shown in an ancient coin of Athens, containing a rude representation of the Acropolis. It was still standing in A.D. 395, and is said to have frightened away Alaric when he came to sack the Acropolis (Zosim. v. 6). The exact site of this statue is now well ascertained, since the foundations of its pedestal have been discovered.
(ii.) A brazen Quadriga, dedicated from the spoils of Chalcis, stood on the left hand of a person, as he entered the Acropolis through the Propylaea. (Herod. v. 77; Paus. i. 28.2)
(iii.) The Gigantomachia, a composition in sculpture, stood upon the southern or Cimonian wall, and just above the Dionysiac theatre; for Plutarch relates that a violent wind precipitated into the Dionysiac theatre a Dionysus, which was one of the figures of the Gigantomachia (Paus. i. 25.2; Plut. Ant. 60). The Gigantomachia was one of four compositions, each three feet in height, dedicated by Attalus, the other three representing the battle of the Athenians and Amazons, the battle of Marathon, and the destruction of the Gauls by Attalus. If the Gigantomachia stood towards the eastern end of the southern wall, we may conclude that the three other compositions were ranged in a similar manner upon the wall towards the west, and probably extended as far as opposite the Parthenon. Mr. Penrose relates that south-east of the Parthenon, there has been discovered upon the edge of the Cimonian wall a platform of Piraic stone, containing two plain marble slabs, which are perhaps connected with these sculptures.
(iv.) Temple of Artemis Brauronia, standing between the Propylaea and the Parthenon, of which the foundations have been recently discovered (Paus. i. 23.7). Near it, as we learn from Pausanias, was a brazen statue of the Trojan horse (hippos doureios), from which Menestheus, Teucer and the sons of Theseus were represented looking out (huperkuptousi). From other authorities we learn that spears projected from this horse (Hesych. s. v. dourios hippos; comp. doureios hippos, krupton ampischon doru, Eurip. Troad. 14); and also that it was of colossal size (hippon huponton megethos hoson ho dourios, Aristoph. Av. 1128; Hesych. s. v. Krios aselgokeros). The basis of this statue has also been discovered with an inscription, from which we learn that it was dedicated by Chaeredemus, of Coele (a quarter in the city), and that it was made by Strongylion.
(v.) Temple of Rome and Augustus, not mentioned by Pausanias, stood about 90 feet before the eastern front of the Parthenon. Leake observes that from a portion of its architrave still in existence, we may infer that it was circular, 23 feet in diameter, of the Ionic or Corinthian order, and about 50 feet in height, exclusive of a basement. An inscription found upon the site informs us that it was dedicated by the Athenian people theai Hpomei kai Eebastoi Kaisari. It was dedicated to Rome and Augustus, because this emperor forbade the provinces to raise any temple to him, except in conjunction with Rome.
In following Pausanias through the Acropolis, we must suppose that he turned to the right after passing through the Propylaea, and went straight to the Parthenon; that; from the Parthenon he proceeded to the eastern end of the Acropolis; and returned along the northern side, passing the Erechtheium and the statue of Athena Promachus.

This extract is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited Aug 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Map of the Acropolis in Socrates and Plato's time

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