This is where it all began

The Parthenon, temple of Athena Porthenos, Athena the Virgin, is more impressive the closer you get to it. Massive, and perfectly proportioned, it was built under the direction of Perikles, the leader of the Athenian state, in a space of fifteen years. It was and is the expression of classical Greek originality and aesthetics, and the particular expression of Athenian power might and majesty.

Parthenon
Parthenon

It has been used and abused as a Christian Church, a mosque, the palace of the Turkish governor, a powder magazine, a treasury, a pagan temple, a law court. It has been looted by Macedonians, Romans, Venetians, and Turks, and to that list the Greeks would add Lord Elgin, who took the marbles with permission of the Turkish government (not that they cared for the classical heritage). That it stands yet is a testament to how well built it was in the beginning.

Holes were drilled into the centre of the pillars, and these were filled with molten lead and wood. The effect was act as shock absorbers for the infrequent but severe earthquakes to which the Mediterranean is subject.

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We owe to the Greeks the practice of philosophy (close thinking about nature and reason) and to the Jews the idea of a transcendent but personal God acting in history. If you can make a unity out of those two conflicting ideas, you will set your civilization on a path eternal inward contradictions. And here we are.