parian marble

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Athenian Treasury

Delphi, Greece

502 BCE 

9.75 m. in height


The Athenian Treasury was constructed by the Athenians to house dedications made by their city and citizens to the sanctuary of Apollo. The entire treasury, including its sculptural decoration, is built of Parian marble. Pausanias mentions the building in his account of the sanctuary, claiming that it was dedicated from the spoils of the Battle of Marathon, fought in 490 BCE.

he platform upon which the treasury stands has a prominent inscription on its south face; it is dated internally to post-490 BCE.

ΑΘΕΝΑΙΟΙ Τ[Ο]Ι ΑΠΟΛΛΟΝ[Ι ΑΠΟ ΜΕΔ]ΟΝ ΑΚ[ΡΟΘ]ΙΝΙΑ ΤΕΣ ΜΑΡΑΘ[Ο]ΝΙ Μ[ΑΧΕ]Σ

The Athenians [dedicated this] to Apollo as first-fruits from the Persians at the Battle of Marathon.

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Portrait of an old magistrate, perhaps portrait of orator Q. Aurelius Symmachus.  From Horti Liciniani, so called temple of Minerva Medica (1879). Late IV-early V AD. Parian marble. Centrale Montemartini, Rome. Musei Capitolini, inv. M.C. 896

The Unwelcome Return of Passion

Note: “Theban Semele’s child” = Bacchus (Dionysus), god of wine.

Horace, Odes 1.19

The savage mother of Desires,
Theban Semele’s child too,
And License in her wantonness,
All bid me to return my heart
To a love that once was finished.
The brilliance of Glycera burns me-
Glycera, who shines with purer light
Than Parian marble; her pleasing boldness
Burns me too; likewise her face,
So very risky to behold.
Venus, rushing on me with
The whole of her power, won’t permit
Me to sing of Scythians,
Or Parthians, so brave whenever
They turn their horses back to shoot,
Or anything else that doesn’t matter.
Come, boys, and set down here for me
An altar made of living turf;
Put branches here, and frankincense,
And a dish with pure wine – two years old;
For Venus will arrive more gently
If I sacrifice a victim to her.

   Mater saeva Cupidinum
Thebanaeque iubet me Semelae puer
  et lasciva Licentia
finitis animum reddere amoribus.
  Urit me Glycerae nitor
splendentis Pario marmore purius;
  urit grata proteruitas
et voltus nimium lubricus aspici.
  In me tota ruens Venus
Cyprum deseruit, nec patitur Scythas
  aut versis animosum equis
Parthum dicere nec quae nihil attinent.
  Hic vivum mihi caespitem, hic
verbenas, pueri, ponite turaque
  bimi cum patera meri:
mactata veniet lenior hostia.

Venus and Cupids, Battista Dossi, 1530

On names: Athene

Let’s check out some excellent epithets of Pallas Athene. Lots of names connecting her to places, a few generic appellations shared with other deities, etc. But most really are illuminating. For example, note that the goddess is a leader in peace and war, is very perceptive and quick of mind, a great protectress - but is noted more for quickness of mind and practicality, than for introspection and deep knowledge. Basically, it looks like her presence is more likely to be felt on a military base or in a city hall than in a library.

Adamatos thea - untamed
Agoraia - of the market place
Anemotis - of the winds
Ageleia - who leads and protects people like a herd of cattle or she who takes the spoils
Aglauros - connected with the heroine Aglauros
Aithyia - diver, or a figurative reference to ships?
Alea - connected with the hero Aleus. Possibly also of refuge
Alalkomeneis - protectress, or also of Alalkomenai
Alkidemos - defender of the people
Alkimakhe - defender in battle
Alkis - strong, brave
Amboulia - of counsel
Apatouria - deciever
Areia - warlike
Akraia - She on high
Amaria - of day?
Arkhegetis - foundress, leader
Assesia - of Assesus
Atrytone - unflinching
Axiopoinos - who metes out just punishment
Aiantis - connected with the hero Aiax, or with the attic phile Aiantis
Agestratos- leader of hosts
Boarmia, Boudeia - yoker of oxen
Bia - might
Boulaia - of the boule (council)
Damasippos - horse tamer
Deino - terrible
Epipyrgitis - of/upon the tower
Ergane - of craft
Eryma - defender
Erysiptolis - defender of the city
Euresitekhnos - inventor of the crafts
Glaukopis - bright-eyed, owl-eyed
Gorgopis - gorgon-faced, grim
Gorgolopha - gorgon-crested
Gorgophone - killer of the gorgon
Gigantoleteira - destroyer of giants
Iasonia - connected with the hero Jason, or healer
Ilia - of Ilios
Ismenia - of the Ismenos river
Itonia - of Itonus, or connected with the hero Itonios
Hephaistia - connected with Hephaistos
Hippia - of horses
Hippolaitis - of Hippola
Hellotia - of the fertile marsh, or connected with the heroine Hellotis
Homaria - of the gathering
Homolois - well, one of the gates of Thebes was called that, and there was a Homoloia festival in Boeotia. Also, Homole mountain in Thessaly, and a legendary priestess called Homolois. Might also mean “of concord”. Nice range of options.
Hygieia - of good health
Kalliergos - of beautiful crafts
Keleutheia - of the roads
Khalinitis - bridler
Khalkioikos - of the bronze dwelling
Khryseopelex - gold-helmeted
Khrysolonkhos - of the golden spear
Kleidouchos - keeper of the keys
Koryphasia - of the head, or of the promontory called Koryphasion
Koryphagenes - born from the head
Kyparissia - of Kyparissiae, or of the cypress
Kydonia - of Kydonia on Crete
Kynthia - of the Kynthus mountain on Delos
Kolokasia - of the edible tubers, probably
Kissaia - of ivy
Koresia - of the lake Koresia, which might just mean maiden lake
Ktesia - protectress of the household
Kranaia - of the top of the hill, probably
Laossoos - rallier of the people
Lemnia - of Lemnos
Lindia - of Lindos
Leitis - distributor of war booty
Larisaia - of Larisus
Magarsia - of Magarsos
Medeousa Athenon - protectress and queen of Athens
Mekhanitis - contriver of plans
Meter - mother. (Yes, there was such a cult in Elis. Apparently, there is nothing weird about asking a virgin goddess for children)
Moria - of the sacred olive tree
Nike - victory
Nikephoros - bringer of victory, who holds victory in her hands
Nedousia - of Nedon
Narkaia - connected with the hero Narkaios
Obrimopatre - of a mighty father
Oleria - of Oleris
Ophtalmitis - of eyes
Optiletis - sightful
Oxyderkes - of sharp eyesight
Pareia - of parian marble (in reference to a statue )
Paionia - healer
Pandrosos - connected with the heroine Pandrosos
Pankrates - almighty
Persepolis - sacker of cities
Potnia Egrekydoimos - mistress who raises the din of war
Phalaritis - who wears cheekpieces
Phobesistrate - who is feared by hosts
Phratria - of the phratry
Phronesis - of moral responsibility
Polyboulos, Polymetis - of many counsels
Polioukhos, Poliatis - protector of the polis
Polemedokos - sustainer of war
Promakhos - first in battle, who fights in front
Pronoia - of foresight
Proxima - near one
Panakhaia - of all Akhaia
Parthenos - virgin
Pallas - maybe a reference to her friend she killed accidentally, maybe a giant she killed (not accidentally) , maybe one who brandishes (pallein) her spear or aegis
Pronaia - before the temple
Pylaimakhos - fighter at the gates
Polias - of the city
Pylaitis - of the gates
Sais, Saitis - of Sais. Neith, a Kemetic goddess, is that city’s proper patron, but hey, Interpretatio Graeca, what can you do *grumble grumble *
Salpinx - war trumpet
Soteira - saviour
Sounia - of Sounion
Skiras - of Skiron
Skillyntia - of Skillos
Sthenias - mighty
Stoikheia - marshaler of ranks
Telkhinia - connected with the Telkhines, probably
Tritogeneia - born near the Lybian lake Tritonis or river Triton, or possibly from the head
Zosteria - of the girdle
Xenia - of (hospitality to) strangers

It cannot be stressed enough that Pausanias is invaluable, as well as the Homeric hymns, Kallimachos, Euripides, Aristophanes, etc. We are so very lucky to have their works, aren’t we?

Metope depicting the eleventh labor of Hercules holding the sky, aided by Athena as Atlas holding the golden apples from the garden of the Hesperides. Decoration of the Temple of Zeus in the Sanctuary of Olympia. Parian marble. East pediment. 460 B.C.

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The mystery of the hairstyles of the Caryatids. The interesting experiment.

For two and a half thousand years caryatids contemplate the Parthenon and Athens from the south porch of the Erechtheion. Individually handcrafted with Parian marble and custom in slabs of gray Eleusinian stone, the five daughters who - in convincing explanation - values attributed to the glorious dead King Cecrops of Athens and have a different hairstyle.

There were no or hairstyles Caryatids?

And it is the elaborate hairstyles of the Caryatids of the Erechtheion presented until June 26 the Greek embassy in Washington at an exhibition entitled «The Caryatid Hairstyling Project» based on an idea by Professor of Fairfield University in Connecticut United States and specialist in Greek and Roman art and archeology Katherine Schwab.

The hairstyles of the Caryatids was inspired the sculptor who created or originated from real women of that time? This was the question that was born in K. Schwab when he saw in 2007 at an exhibition photographs depicting the Caryatids. This is how, then, decided to set up an experiment to test the hairstyles, in cooperation with the hairdresser Milexi Torres and six students from the University of Fairfield with long and thick hair which were used as models.

The “answer” of research

After careful observation, Dr. Schwab realized that the hairstyles were different from one another, however, been based on a basic model. The result in the hair of the girls proved that the hairstyles that adorned the crown of the Caryatids were so in turn come from real women of the era. For each hairdo took about an hour and certainly in ancient times each daughter would have help the maids.

“Although it is very simple,they have complicated look,” said Schwab on the hairstyles of the Caryatids. The six students who participated in the experiment felt a different kind of connection with the ancient world. “I realized that there were people living at the era. There was a longer period of ancient history, "said one of them, the Amber Novak.

Hairstyles that testify status

In ancient Athens, the hairstyles were a symbol of high social status and wealth.

Caryatids of the Erechtheion was originally six. Five of these are in the Acropolis Museum and the sixth, which was removed by Lord Elgin in 1801, at the British Museum. The position of the second from West Kore remains vacant.


Το μυστήριο με τα χτενίσματα των Καρυάτιδων: Το ενδιαφέρον πείραμα.

Εδώ και δυόμιση χιλιάδες χρόνια οι Καρυάτιδες ατενίζουν τον Παρθενώνα και την Αθήνα από τη νότια πρόσταση του Ερεχθείου. Ξεχωριστά δουλεμένες με Παριανό μάρμαρο και προσαρμοσμένες σε πλάκες από γκρίζο ελευσινιακό λίθο, οι 5 Κόρες που - κατά την πειστικότερη εξήγηση - απέδιδαν τιμές στον ένδοξο νεκρό Βασιλιά Κέκροπα της Αθήνας παρουσιάζουν και διαφορετικό χτένισμα.
Υπήρξαν ή όχι τα χτενίσματα των Καρυάτιδων;

Και είναι τα περίτεχνα χτενίσματα των Καρυάτιδων του Ερεχθείου που παρουσιάζονται μέχρι τις 26 Ιουνίου στην ελληνική πρεσβεία της Ουάσινγκτον σε μια έκθεση με τίτλο «The Caryatid Hairstyling Project» βασισμένη σε μια ιδέα της καθηγήτριας του πανεπιστημίου Φέρφιλντ, στο Κονέκτικατ των Ηνωμένων Πολιτειών και ειδικό στην ελληνική και ρωμαϊκή τέχνη και αρχαιολογία Κάθριν Σουάμπ.

Τα χτενίσματα των Καρυάτιδων τους ήταν έμπνευση του γλύπτη που τις δημιούργησε ή προέρχονταν από πραγματικές γυναίκες της εποχής; Αυτή ήταν η ερώτηση που γεννήθηκε στην Κ. Σουάμπ όταν είδε το 2007 σε μια έκθεση φωτογραφίες που απεικόνιζαν τις Καρυάτιδες. Κάπως έτσι, λοιπόν, αποφάσισε να οργανώσει ένα πείραμα για να δοκιμάσει τα χτενίσματα, σε συνεργασία με την κομμώτρια Μιλέξι Τόρρες και έξι φοιτήτριες από το Πανεπιστήμιο του Φέρφιλντ με μακριά και πυκνά μαλλιά οι οποίες χρησιμοποιήθηκαν ως μοντέλα.

Η «απάντηση» της έρευνας

Μετά από προσεκτική παρατήρηση, η δρ. Σουάμπ συνειδητοποίησε ότι τα χτενίσματα διέφεραν το ένα από το άλλο, ωστόσο, βασίζονταν σε ένα βασικό πρότυπο. Το αποτέλεσμα στα μαλλιά των κοριτσιών απέδειξε ότι τα χτενίσματα που κοσμούσαν την κόμη των Καρυάτιδων είχαν και αυτά με τη σειρά τους προέλθει από πραγματικές γυναίκες της εποχής. Για κάθε κόμμωση χρειάστηκε περίπου μιά ώρα και σίγουρα στην αρχαία εποχή η κάθε Κόρη θα είχε τη βοήθεια θεραπαινίδων.

«Αν και είναι πολύ απλά, μοιάζουν περίπλοκα», ανέφερε η Σουάμπ σχετικά με τα χτενίσματα των Καρυάτιδων. Οι έξι φοιτήτριες που συμμετείχαν στο πείραμα ένιωσαν ένα διαφορετικό είδος σύνδεσης με τον αρχαίο κόσμο. «Κατάλαβα ότι υπήρχαν ζωντανοί άνθρωποι εκείνη την εποχή. Δεν ήταν πια μια περίοδος της αρχαίας ιστορίας», είπε μία από αυτές, η Άμπερ Νόβακ.

Χτενίσματα που μαρτυρούν κοινωνική θέση
Στην αρχαία Αθήνα, τα χτενίσματα ήταν ένα σύμβολο υψηλής κοινωνικής θέσης και ευμάρειας.

Οι Καρυάτιδες του Ερεχθείου ήταν αρχικά έξι. Οι πέντε από αυτές βρίσκονται στο Μουσείο της Ακρόπολης ενώ η έκτη, που αφαιρέθηκε από το λόρδο Ελγιν το 1801, στο Βρετανικό Μουσείο. Η θέση της, δεύτερης από Δυτικά Κόρης παραμένει κενή.