Parthenon

Overview

The Parthenon. It was ravaged by the early Christians, occupied by the Turks, and looted by the British. Wars were fought all around it. Plato and Socrates, Phidias and Pericles contemplated philosophy, art, drama, and democracy on its steps. And today its proud, ruined columns stand high above the city of Athens, Greece, the last sentinels of what's often considered to be the most important architectural achievement in the world. The Parthenon is without rival in regard to its beauty, purity of design, and ...

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Overview

The Parthenon. It was ravaged by the early Christians, occupied by the Turks, and looted by the British. Wars were fought all around it. Plato and Socrates, Phidias and Pericles contemplated philosophy, art, drama, and democracy on its steps. And today its proud, ruined columns stand high above the city of Athens, Greece, the last sentinels of what's often considered to be the most important architectural achievement in the world. The Parthenon is without rival in regard to its beauty, purity of design, and tumultuous history. It grew out of war and strife, political uprisings and financial difficulties, and remains a symbol of what humanity — at its very best — is capable of accomplishing.

Lynn Curlee, who won a Robert F. Sibert Informational Honor Book award for Brooklyn Bridge, explores the tremendous history behind one of the most recognizable buildings in the world, the Parthenon.

A detailed history of the Parthenon exploring its construction and restoration.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Just in time for the Summer Olympics in Greece comes this fitting tribute to Athens' greatest architectural achievement. From its opening sentence, Curlee's (Brooklyn Bridge) precise, graceful chronicle of this Greek masterpiece captures the drama of its turbulent history: "It is one of the greatest sights in the world-the lofty, barren windswept rock encircled by massive ramparts, the flat terraces of its summit encrusted with the weathered stones of ancient shrines." The author provides a detailed account of the stages of the Parthenon's construction 25 centuries ago as a temple to Athena, "crowning the summit" of the Acropolis (the name given to the rocky citadel towering over the city). Some of the particulars of the process are astounding: "except for the wooden roof beams and the interior ceilings, [the structure is] built entirely of marble"-many thousands of tons of it-which was transported by oxcart from quarries 10 miles away. The architects made the bold and revolutionary move of using the Ionic Order inside a Doric temple. And, like other ancient Greek temples, the Parthenon was built using no mortar; as the author states, "a Greek temple is held in place only by gravity." Curlee's crisp, closely focused acrylic on canvas art underscores the building's grandeur and spotlights its structural components as well as the elaborate decoration, including the Ionic style frieze containing an astonishing 1,700 square feet of relief sculpture. All ages. (July) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
The creator of the vibrantly illustrated histories of the monuments, the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore and the Brooklyn Bridge has turned his attention to the long history of this proud ruin of Athens. It's a timely book, considering that many children will have seen the beautiful ruins lit from within as a centerpiece of television's recent coverage of the 2004 Summer Olympics. Curlee's text introduces Greece civilization at the time of the monument's beginning on the Acropolis as a temple to Athena. He then traces the many additions and destructions, the wars with the Persians that ruined the first temple, the rebuilding under Pericles' reign with glorious statuary and an overall plan by Phidias, and subsequent cave-ins, fires, lootings, and decay that befell the Acropolis. The Elgin Marbles, now held by the British Museum, have inadvertently been preserved both from looting and from the acid rain that imperils the marble work and Curlee mentions the controversy surrounding their return to Greece. Acrylic renderings of the architecture and the information about, for instance, Doric and Ionic columns, fare better than the stiff human figures who declaim, carve, or lend some scale to the paintings. The dense text of necessity covers much history on behalf of the Parthenon and readers who bring some knowledge about ancient history can absorb more. But readers who know nothing of Greek history can, through this book, nonetheless appreciate the stunning marvel this now-ruined building and its site must have been. And still is. 2004, Atheneum, Ages 9 to 14.
—Susan Hepler, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-8-Just in time for the Olympics comes this splendid introduction to Greece's most renowned monument. Curlee covers the mythic and historical backgrounds that led to the fifth-century construction of the temple to Athena. He also describes other components of the Acropolis, as well as relating the Elgin controversy and the effects of modern air pollution. His examination of the architectural details is particularly accurate and absorbing: he explicates all elements of the structure, its decoration, and the heroic statue it originally enclosed. The limpid, forthright prose matches artwork of similar clarity and elegant simplicity. The acrylic paintings balance areas of flat color with finely controlled line. Well-labeled plans of the Acropolis and the Parthenon, and examples of the classical Orders of Architecture, help youngsters to orient themselves. Most illustrations occupy a single page, but there are three stunning spreads, each extending almost 24 inches: a reconstructed view of the pristine Acropolis in elevation, the horse riders portion of the frieze, and the artist's re-creation of Phidias's gold-and-ivory statue. The visuals are dramatic enough to hold younger viewers, while the text will satisfy curious older readers. The violet, teal, and indigo skies are as good as a swim in the Aegean. This book offers a noble and informative tribute to the beauty and meaning of this ancient architectural hymn to human aspiration.-Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George's School, Newport, RI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A meticulous account of the building and subsequent ruin of one of the great monuments of the ancient world. Opening with a short history of Athens and the Acropolis to provide context, the narrative really kicks into gear with the design and construction of the Parthenon, introducing the main characters, the architectural terminology, and the elements of the famed Greek temple. Sharp-edged acrylics, rendered primarily in pinky-tan and Curlee's signature blue, both depict the architectural features and imagine the magnificent carvings that once decorated the Parthenon. Although these paintings are terrifically effective when concentrating on building details, they are less so when depicting human beings, who come off as looking somewhat blockily architectural themselves. A more serious flaw is the lack of any textual reference to sources: for instance, how does the author know so much about the great statue of Athena, which was completely destroyed 17 centuries ago? A bibliography at the back lends authority, but it's too bad that the author does not include brief references to his sources in the narrative itself, but rather leaves readers wondering. (Picture book/nonfiction. 9-13)
From the Publisher
The New York Times Curlee's illustrations communicate not just information but also excitement and sentiment.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689844904
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 7/1/2004
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.22 (w) x 11.26 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Meet the Author

Lynn Curlee, who received a Robert F. Sibert Informational Honor Book Award for Brooklyn Bridge, comes from a family of intense sports fans. His other books include Liberty, Ships of the Air, Into the Ice: The Story of Arctic Exploration, Rushmore, The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Capital, and, most recently, Parthenon. He lives on the North Fork of Long Island, New York.

Lynn Curlee, who received a Robert F. Sibert Informational Honor Book Award for Brooklyn Bridge, comes from a family of intense sports fans. His other books include Liberty, Ships of the Air, Into the Ice: The Story of Arctic Exploration, Rushmore, The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Capital, and, most recently, Parthenon. He lives on the North Fork of Long Island, New York.

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