The Web of History: A Conservative Reading of the Parthenon Frieze
What is the article about? - The primary focus of this chapter is the reading of the Parthenon frieze. One important aspect that was mentioned when reading the frieze is that past information and interpretations cannot be disregarded despite the fact that it is now easier to study certain detail. Another important aspect is the peplos, the folded garment that is presented to Athena by a boy. There has been conflict whether or not it is a boy or a girl that presents this garment to Athena. It was thought to be a girl because generally women are the weavers in Greek society, but it is proven to be a boy because of the amount of skin that is shown when giving the garment to Athena. The peplos becomes a part of Athena's treasury as soon as it is given to her, not when it is retired as some people believed it should be. The act of folding the peplos represents the official acceptance by Athena.
The marriage ritual is also mentioned and depicted in the frieze. "When the man and woman take their seats on the diphroi which the girls are bringing them, they will become a couple like Zeus and Hera" (205). Marriage is the basis of Athenian citizenship since both the mother and father of an individual have to be Athenian citizens themselves. Athena is also shown to be the tamer of horses which is a metaphor for shaping of Athenian citizens. The gods depicted contrast between being peaceful and being war-like. Athena demonstrates this by being viewed as the mother of the Athenian people, but at the same time she is shown as the protector of the city and the goddess of war.
What does it tell us about the worship of Athena and Greek attitudes towards goddesses? - Athena is a very important figure in Greek society. Society relied on her to accomplish many things. For example: she was the protector of Athens, she was looked to for strength in battle, and she was a carrier of secret things (i.e. vessel). Athena was also a model of perfection for Greek women because she was a virgin goddess and did not rely on men. She was able to accomplish the same things that males did in Greek culture.
How can this material be related to the course? - This chapter addressed the role of marriage in society. It also discussed how women were depicted in artwork, such as the frieze and vases. An important aspect it brought up was the loom and the weaving of the peplos. In a way it also relates to the issue of blood guilt and family curses because the chapter mentions that "the future rests in the actions of all the people" (211).