Ictinus and Callicrates with Phidias

(5th century B. C.)
(Ictinus is also spelled Iktinos. Callicrates is also spelled Kallikrates.)

The ancient Greek contemporaries Ictinus, Callicrates, and Phidias, are jointly credited in the creation of the Parthenon, in Athens, during the rule of Pericles, circa -440.

Although nothing is known about his life or artistic personality, Iktinos, along with Kallikrates, acted as the architect of the Parthenon, according to Plutarch. He worked on several other temples throughout Greece, including the Telesterion at Eleusis and the Temple of Apollo at Bassai. Kallikrates acted much as Iktinos’s contractor, his technical director of works.

Kallikrates worked mainly in Athens during the great building program inspired by Perikles. There has been some suggestion that Kallikrates might have been the official city architect of Athens, and that he was more concerned with the technical and managerial aspects of architecture than with formal design. Thus, he would have assisted Iktinos with the construction of the Parthenon, and with the supervision of building work, but would not have been responsible for aesthetic features.

The most famous artist of his time, Pheidias acted as supervisor of all architectural and artistic works for the Acropolis in Athens. All of the exterior sculpture was produced under his direction, and the enormous statue of Athena which resided within the temple was his work alone. Although much of the building and its decoration have survived, none of Pheidias’s personal contributions remain.

References

Adolf K Placzek. Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architects. Vol. 2. London: The Free Press, 1982. ISBN 0-02-925000-5. NA40.M25. p447-449; 546-548.

Adolf K Placzek. Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architects. Vol. 3. London: The Free Press, 1982. ISBN 0-02-925000-5. NA40.M25. p410.

FAQ

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What is the Parthenon?

The Parthenon is the remains of a temple to the Greek goddess Athena, the patron goddess of the ancient City of Athens.

Where is the Parthenon?

The Parthenon is a temple located on the Acropolis, a hill overlooking the city of Athens, Greece. The exact coordinates are 37°58’17.45 N / 23°43’34.29 E

What kind of Greek temple is the Parthenon?

The Parthenon is considered to be the finest example of Doric-style construction.

What is Doric style?

Doric is a simple, unadorned style characterized by plainer columns.

Who built the Parthenon?

The Parthenon was designed by Phidias, a famous sculptor, at the behest of Pericles, a Greek politician credited with the founding of the city of Athens and with stimulating the so-called “Golden Age of Greece”. The Greek architects Ictinos and Callicrates supervised the practical work of the consturction. Alternate spellings for these names include Iktinos, Kallikrates, and Pheidias – there is no official transliteration of Greek into English.

What was in the Parthenon?

Many treasures would have been displayed in the building, but the glory of the Parthenon was the gigantic statue of Athena designed by Phidias and made out of chrystelephine (elephant ivory) and gold.

When was the Parthenon built?

Work on the building began in 447 BCE and continued until 438 BCE; some of the decorations were completed later. It was built over the site of an earlier temple which is sometimes called the Pre-Parthenon.

How big is the Parthenon?

Experts differ on this because of variations in the way it is measured, and due to damage to the structure. One common measurement is 111 feet by 228 feet, or 30.9 meters by 69.5 meters.

What does Parthenon mean? Why is it called the Parthenon?

The temple was sacred to two aspects of the Greek goddess Athena, Athena Polios (“of the city”) and Athena Parthenos (“young maiden”). The “on” ending means “place of”, so “Parthenon” means “Place of the Parthenos”.

Why is the Parthenon in ruins?

The Parthenon survived the ravages of time pretty well, serving as a church and then a mosque, until finally it was used as a munitions depot during the Turkish Occupation of Greece. In 1687, during a battle with the Venetians, an explosion tore through the building and caused much of the damage seen today. There was also a damaging fire in ancient times.

What is the “Elgin Marbles” or “Parthenon Marbles” controversy?

Lord Elgin, an Englishman, claimed he received permission from the local Turkish authorities to remove whatever he wanted from the ruins of the Parthenon. But based on surviving documents, he apparently interpreted even that “permission” quite liberally. The Greek government has been demanding the return of the Parthenon Marbles. At present, they are displayed at the British Museum in London, England.

What is the Acropolis?

The Acropolis is the hill on which the Parthenon stands. “Acro” means “high” and “polis” means “city” – so it is literally the “high city”. Many other places in Greece have “an” acropolis but “The Acropolis” usually refers to the site of the Parthenon in Athens.

The Parthenon

The Building

The Parthenon is the most important and famous monument of Athens Acropolis and even of all the Ancient Greek civilization. The temple is dedicated to Athena Parthenos (the virgin), the patron goddess of Athens and the name “Parthenon” means “virgin’s apartment”. The temple is located on the highest part of the Acropolis. It was designed by the architect Iktinos and Kallikrates and was built between 447 and 432 B.C. during the Periclean project. The supervisor of the whole work was Pheidias, the famous Athenian sculptor. The temple is built in the Doric architectural style and in Pentelic marble.

The temple consisted of 8 Doric columns on each of the narrow sides and 17 columns on each of the long sides. The lines of the temple were curved in a special way in order to give an optical illusion that gives the impression that the foundations are straight.

The central part of the temple, in front of a pool of water, stood a 40 foot ivory and gold statue of Athena.

The Decorations

The decorations of the Parthenon are considered as unique masterpieces. It is a combination of the Doric metopes and the Ionic frieze on the walls of the cella.

The metopes, on the east side, depict the Olympian gods fighting against the giants, on the west side, the Lapiths battle the centaurs, on the east side, the triumph of the Greeks over the Amazons while the north side depict the triumph of the Athenians over the Trojans.

The relief frieze runs along the four sides of the temple and depicts the Procession of the Panathenaea, the most important religious festival of ancient Athens. The frieze includes figure of gods, beasts and some 360 humans.

The two pediments of the temple represented major mythological scenes: the east pediment represents the birth of Athena and the west pediment, the fight that took place between Athena and Poseidon for the name of the city.

The Parthenon was the victim of many transformations, depending of what civilization was ruling the city. The final destruction took place in the beginning of the 19th century when the British ambassador in Constantinople, Lord Elgin, stole the decorations of the Parthenon and sold them to the British Museum where they are still exhibited.

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