In light of evidence for substantial alterations to the forms and spatial configurations of the Parthenon during the construction process, John R. Senseney interrogates the origins of the celebrated Ionic frieze, with its continuous figural procession sculpted by the workshop of Pheidias, in The Architectural Origins of the Parthenon Frieze. Emphasizing ancient planning methods, Senseney argues that the Parthenon’s builders settled on an Ionic frieze in response to the rare decision to include prostyle porches. To contend with formal complexities, the builders engaged in exploratory design within the construction of the east peristyle, east porch, and pronaos, the results of which then guided construction elsewhere in the superstructure. Comparative analysis supports Senseney’s argument that the Ionic form of the Parthenon frieze arose not from the sculptural program but rather in response to issues of alignment within the pronaos and as part of a fluid process of modeling that coalesced in an aesthetic focused on formal continuity and integration.
In spite of remarkably keen investigations of the Parthenon since the eighteenth century, a secure explanation for the incorporation of the celebrated Ionic frieze remains elusive (Figures 1–3).1 Prior to modern war-related damage and eventual removal, this continuous frieze crowned all four sides of the sekos, the long central structure composed of an east-to-west sequence of four chambers (pronaos, naos, west chamber, opisthodomos) and surrounded in turn by a Doric peristyle of eight-by-seventeen columns. Scholars posit that the inclusion of the Ionic frieze must represent a change from an original design for a triglyph-metope frieze in the same location.2 Certainly a Doric frieze in this context would have provided for a more canonical entablature above the amphiprostyle arrangement of six Doric columns fronting the pronaos and opisthodomos. The presence of regulae with guttae on the taeniae in these locations, which would commonly align with triglyphs above, may suggest concrete vestiges of the Doric frieze from the original design.
However compelling this hypothesis may appear, a chief limitation is its adherence to modern assumptions regarding construction practices, namely, that ancient Greek builders normally followed authoritative plans finalized in advance. Recent studies demonstrate instead that architectural forms and details took shape gradually during the course of construction.3 For example, we now know that the construction of the Hephaisteion, the well-preserved Athenian Doric temple on the nearby Kolonos Agoraios, began as early as the 480s BCE.4 But it is inconceivable that the Hephaisteion's patently High Classical forms, including its Ionic friezes, reflect a much earlier design rather than a response to the more recent innovations of the Parthenon.5 By the same token, ancient textual sources offer little evidence for what would constitute designs in Greek temple architecture, such as small-scale plastic or graphic architectural models able to anticipate the details and experiential effects of finished buildings.6 Yet studies of the Parthenon—including those that address the genesis of its frieze—continue to perpetuate a pervasive but often unspoken assumption regarding its construction, whereby alterations of forms, spaces, and dimensions made during the building process necessarily must reflect departures from a fixed original design.7
In this article, I look to the larger design and construction processes of the Parthenon to offer a new argument for the origin of the Ionic frieze installed on the east, north, and south sides of the sekos in 443/2–442/1 and on the west side in 440/39.8 I argue that the strict distinction between design and construction accords with neither the larger ancient context nor the evidence for how the Parthenon came to be created. Broadly speaking, in the Classical world, the process that today we think of as “design” overlapped with construction. Marvin Trachtenberg's observations regarding medieval and Renaissance approaches to design prior to Leon Battista Alberti provide an appropriate comparison to the practice of ancient Greece, and I argue that ancient design proceeded by way of what Trachtenberg calls a “myopic progression”—that is, on the ancient Greek work site, most planning for details occurred at the time of their construction. In a fluid way, design folded into construction, and construction folded into design.9
In contrast to modern design practices, the design development of the Parthenon featured two phases: an initial process of schematic planning followed by a process of exploratory modeling. Schematic planning took place prior to construction, as an abstract framing of a building's outlines and measurements in plan and elevation, without regard for the specifics of individual masses. Modeling, on the other hand, unfolded within the initial stages of the construction of the superstructure itself. This modeling occurred on-site at the Acropolis, where the established schematic framework guided construction for a portion of the structure, which then guided the remaining construction of peristyles and walls throughout the building up to a unified height. In this way, builders established a uniform level with finalized dimensions for the construction of the geison, ceiling beams, and coffering. Like the modern practice of reduced-scale architectural drawing, this approach offered the opportunity for experimentation, reconfiguration, and erasure. But unlike drawing, the modeling process employed by the Parthenon's builders addressed the experience of the site at eye level, through the exploitation of three-dimensional masses and the spatial relationships they established.10
Specifically, I argue that we can identify traces for this modeling process in the eastern portions of the sekos supporting the Parthenon frieze. Here, the modeling process involved what we may call—again following Trachtenberg's terminology—“retrosynthesis,” where builders modified the set of features previously determined only in a schematic way. The subsequent modeling of the entablature fronting the sekos occurred in conjunction with the modeling of the trabeation inside the enclosed pronaos, where, as discussed below, the inclusion of triglyphs and metopes would prove to be untenable. By extending the resulting smooth, continuous external frieze along the long north and south flanks, and connecting it with the same configuration within the entablatures facing the west porch and inside the opisthodomos, the builders visually fastened the sekos into a tightly unified form. This proposed construction sequence enables the advancement of another claim: that the Parthenon builders conceptualized the form of the famous continuous Ionic frieze through the exploratory creation of the elements and dimensions of elevations and spaces on the east front, which still bear evidence of the original design process.
Within the modeling process, the imbricated nature of design and construction offset the limited value that reduced-scale drawings and models would have carried for creating the exceedingly refined plastic effects observable in the Parthenon. Without clear evidence for reduced-scale models in the Classical period, and in light of the documented traces of experimentation considered in this article, it is particularly apparent that the architectural forms originated in the execution of the building itself rather than in plans created prior to construction. The design of the Parthenon was a complex, collaborative process involving the lifting, moving, carving, clamping, dismantling, and repositioning of massive blocks of Pentelic marble. The resulting east front of the sekos provided a general model for combinations of elements and effects in the ongoing work.11 And in a way that defies modern expectations, the east front was also a site of experimentation that would be nearly seamlessly incorporated into the building fabric as construction progressed.
By way of this argument, we can explore the decision-making process of the architects and masons who designed the Parthenon and its framework for figural sculpture. In modeling these features during construction, the builders engaged in an active phase of formal creation fundamentally unrelated to the preceding schematic planning phase. Assessing these phases as two distinct working stages not only counters the notion of a departure from a Doric frieze but also clarifies and reinforces the viability of Barbara Barletta's innovative argument that the Ionic frieze indeed belongs to the original design of the Parthenon.12 In turn, recognition of the originality of the Ionic frieze also eliminates the necessity to explain a hypothetical major alteration as the result of an external intervention by the city-state administration.13 By demonstrating that the Parthenon frieze emerged as part of the design process that generated the entire building, the present study affirms the frieze's architectural rather than sculptural origins. Furthermore, in contrast to the Hephaisteion's balanced alternation of distinct elements, the Parthenon frieze emerged through a modeling process that privileged formal continuity and integration. As I will show below, the Parthenon frieze resolved the complex problems caused by the placement of Doric prostyle hexastyle (six-column) arrangements at either end of a notably wide sekos.
Here, some clarification regarding terminology may be helpful. In emphasizing the probable collaboration between architects and masons in creating forms—and in seeking to avoid the continued speculation about the roles and styles associated with Iktinos, Kallikrates, and Karpion, the architects named in ancient sources—I use the term builders to refer to all agents involved in working out the Parthenon's design details.14 I do not include among these agents the Athenian committee officials who shared administrative responsibility for decisions regarding the project's costs, material and human resources, size, general appearance, and sculptural iconography, or for the approval of any major design-related decisions communicated by the architect(s).
Accounting for the builders’ decision to integrate an Ionic frieze into the design of the Parthenon requires detailed consideration of the larger context of the structure's material fabric and the way this context informed the building's planar and plastic interrelationships, as well as comparative analysis of the approach to designing friezes at the Hephaisteion and other relevant monuments. I begin by addressing preliminary planning and the intrinsic connections established during the building process between architectural models and the orders before turning to the design specifics and the intermixture of the orders.
The Athenian city-state's decision to salvage and reuse material from the Older Parthenon marks the apparent starting point for the Parthenon's design. Initiated on the Acropolis shortly after the victory at Marathon in 490 BCE, the Older Parthenon was an unfinished construction project for a Doric hexastyle peripteral temple of Pentelic marble (26.19 by 69.62 meters), built on a large podium of Piraeus limestone running as much as 11 meters deep on its south side.15 This earlier building featured prostyle tetrastyle porches and an unconventionally long sekos, which included a precursor to the Periklean Parthenon's west chamber between the naos and opisthodomos (Figures 4 and 5).16 Following the Older Parthenon's destruction by the Persians in 480 BCE, the Parthenon builders exploited the site for materials to construct a new podium, column drums, capitals, paving slabs for the stylobate, and presumably ashlar blocks for the walls, as well as rubble for fill and structural support.17 To build a temple of wider dimensions with an octastyle (eight-column) arrangement, the builders needed first to decide on a height for the columns suited to the established diameter of their shafts and to envision how these columns would fit into the specific dimensions of a schematic framework.18 This process enabled them to set the planar dimensions of the euthynteria, or leveling course.19
In specifying the dimensions of the future structure, the builders began by establishing the measurements of the columns of the peristyle and then using those measurements to create a proportions-based module to project both the height of the order and the length and width of the stylobate. In conjunction with the fixed dimension of the lower column diameter, they evidently planned the height of the columns to be exactly 32 Doric feet, thus determining the columns’ relatively slender proportions.20
Along with the column dimensions, the Parthenon's architects settled on 2:3 as a guiding ratio for the building, squared it to 4:9, and once again squared that ratio to 16:81. As scholars have shown, the 2:3 ratio determined the relationship of the width of the triglyphs to that of the metopes along the flanks, anchored in turn by the regular spacing of the columns below. The spacing of the columns corresponds to the 4:9 ratio between the lower column diameter preserved from the Older Parthenon and the interaxial (the distance between the axes of neighboring vertical elements), resulting in a particularly dense visual effect for the colonnades.21 In turn, the builders divided the interaxial by five to find the module that defined the height of the order.22 Consistent with conventional measurement of the planned column height, the total height of the order (column + trabeation + geison) equaled 16 such modules.23 In this way, the design of the Parthenon emerged in relation to a well-defined schema: a pair of columns 32 feet tall, separated by a distance of 5 modules (equal to a 9:4 ratio with the lower diameters) and carrying the horizontal members to a height of 16 modules (Figure 6).
From this schema, builders established other main dimensions for the structure. Consistent with the 16:81 ratio, they settled on 81 modules for the length of the stylobate.24 With seventeen columns planned for the flanks, they set the dimension of the shared planar axis for the fourteen regular columnar interaxials on each flank at 70 modules, while notably contracting the outermost intercolumniations between the columns at the corners. The 16-module height of the schema established the width of the stylobate according to the 4:9 ratio, equal to 36 modules.25 As a result, the width-to-length planar dimensions of the stylobate also correspond to the 4:9 ratio.26 In reference to the established arrangement of the columns along the flanks, the builders established the dimensions of the sekos by planning the symmetrical positioning of the antae on axis with the third column on both flanks and—as will be detailed shortly—at a distance slightly farther from the long central axis of the building with respect to where they were finally placed (Figure 7).27 Finally, the length of the naos in the Older Parthenon established the division between the naos and the west chamber.28
Following this simple arithmetical progression as well as the established dimensions of the Older Parthenon, the builders could swiftly and efficiently project the basic building plan and elevation prior to carrying out any actual work in the quarries or on-site. Although the fixing of the forms, widths, and heights of individual parts (such as capitals, triglyphs, and porch entablatures) belonged to the subsequent modeling process rather than the preliminary planning phase, the schematic framework allowed the builders to estimate the volume of Pentelic marble required to build the structure up to the level of the geison blocks.29 In the visual experience of the Parthenon, however, this framework dissolves into a sculptural play of subtle, crisply defined elements (Figure 8). The particulars of the frieze to be projected around the sekos—including its order, dimensions, and formal qualities—had no clear place in this early stage of planning. Determining the forms of this and other friezes in the building, including the sizes and profiles of any individual elements, as well as the articulation of surfaces, required a three-dimensional model.
The ancient Greek use of models to project the prominent and complex forms of a frieze was complicated by the particular nature of those models. What we call an architectural model, the Greeks referred to as a paradeigma, but Greek builders apparently did not commonly employ reduced-scale models for the design of temples. Rather, paradeigmata were usually full-scale, three-dimensional models of clay, wax, wood, plaster, or stone, created to assist in the design of individual elements such as column capitals and triglyphs.30 Once the designs were finalized, stonemasons replicated the models throughout the building. If fashioned out of the same material as the building (Pentelic marble for the Parthenon), a paradeigma could be built directly into the fabric along with its copies.31
Ancient Greek builders did not finalize a paradeigma for any repeated feature in isolation; rather, they looked at each paradeigma in relation to other features and to the larger framework of the building itself, thus anticipating visual experience at eye level. For example, builders likely placed a full-scale model for a Doric capital onto a column shaft in order to judge its effects and modify them as necessary.32 Evidence suggests that builders also used more ephemeral materials to explore surface details and their coordination prior to their execution in brilliant marble.33 After copies were carved from an initial model, these copies in turn provided models for subsequent copies. Builders could make slight adjustments as construction progressed: for example, there are two successive reductions in the length of the abacus of the capitals in the sequence of peristyle columns moving from east to west on the Parthenon's north flank.34 The fluidity between models and copies further blurs the distinction between design and construction, enabling modifications of form throughout the entirety of a building process subject only to cost considerations, the discretion of the architect on-site, and the flexible authority of the structure itself.
If accepted as plausible, the notion that the builders formed the Parthenon according to fundamentally visual rather than arithmetical principles would undermine much of the modern scholarly emphasis on metrological or proportional analysis. The integral ratios guiding multiple spatial relationships merely generated a schematic framework that then allowed for the creation of more nuanced forms, whereby the masses themselves and their surface refinements created the visual experience of the building. The use of paradeigmata did not lead to a myopic focus on individual parts. On the contrary, adherence to the orders ensured a wider coherence through the relationships established between the various elements, effectively modeling a unified expression of masses, surfaces, and space in the construction of the building as a whole.
One may object that the notion of Greek builders working within either a Doric or an Ionic system is anachronistic. There is no evidence that ancient Greeks recognized anything like the kind of mutual exclusivity of the “orders” that early modern readers gleaned from Vitruvius's genera, associated with specific proportions, formal combinations, and individual characters. On the contrary, Greek builders treated Doric and Ionic forms in a far more fluid manner.35 Nevertheless, they typically did separate the more prominent Doric and Ionic elements from each other, even when both appeared in a single building.
In spite of the appearance of Ionic features in the Parthenon and other contemporary Doric buildings, the inclusion of both Doric and Ionic columns typically involves spatial differentiation, as in the external versus the interior colonnades in an Archaic temple or Classical stoa.36 In the Parthenon, evidence suggests that the four columns within the west chamber between the naos and opisthodomos should probably be restored as Ionic (see Figure 5).37 The columns here may have served a straightforward supporting function for the ceiling beams, following the traditional use of Ionic columns within Doric stoas for the inner row of supports, where high ridge beams demanded more slender proportions, as found within Doric stoas or the west room of the Propylaia, the monumental gateway marking the point of arrival to the Acropolis. In the latter example, the beams feature three fasciae, creating an internal consistency further enhanced by an Ionic cyma reversa molding for the epikrantis, or wall crown (Figure 9).38 Significantly, this systematic elaboration within the Propylaia likely reflects the similar approach to ornamenting the Parthenon west chamber as a strictly Ionic interior rigidly separated from the Doric exterior, thereby avoiding the complications of intermixture.
And yet intermixtures of the orders certainly occurred at the Parthenon. Rather than featuring a canonically Doric hexastyle arrangement, the Parthenon is octastyle in the manner of the colossal temples of Archaic Ionia, even if the peristyle columns are all, of course, Doric (Figure 10).39 Doric and Ionic columns do not appear together anywhere in the building, but the Parthenon features the next-closest thing: Doric columns together with Ionicized antae (Figure 11; see Figures 1–3).40 The Ionic moldings on the anta capitals are consistent with the Ionicizing narrow returns, which Barletta identifies as meaningfully connected with the selection of an Ionic rather than Doric frieze for the sekos (Figure 12).41 These forms clearly signal an unconventional break from traditional practice by integrating Doric with Ionicized vertical uprights, even if the latter were integral to the walls.
The intermixture of orders at the Hephaisteion reveals a notably different character from that of the Parthenon. Here, the sekos features a toichobate, an Ionic molding around the base of its exterior walls, which continues as a base molding on the antae (Figure 13). Stylobates supporting Ionic columns comfortably accommodate the toichobate among their ornate base moldings, but the use of such a form conflicts with the unadorned bases of Doric shafts. While the Older Parthenon included a toichobate, Periklean builders omitted it from the sekos of its successor in favor of a simple stepped base.42 The Ionic friezes of the Hephaisteion are part of an admirably simple sequence of alternating Ionic–Doric–Ionic elements, creating a harmonic balance in multiple directions. Starting from the two outer ground-level corners of the sekos elevation and running diagonally in an X across the façade, the Ionic base moldings of the antae give way to the Doric capitals of the columns in antis (between the antae) and complete the chiastic A–B–Aʹ sequence with the Ionic frieze above. Horizontally, an analogous A–Bʹ–Bʹ–A alternating sequence of Ionic–Doric–Ionic features repeats with the moldings-free, crisply articulated Doric shafts of the columns in antis framed on either side by the projecting Ionic base moldings of the antae. By contrast, the lack of base moldings in the Parthenon defers the first purely Ionic (rather than Ionicized) feature from the ground to the moldings crowning the antae. It is tempting to view the Hephaisteion's Ionicized elevations as an aesthetic critique that sought to balance Doric and Ionic forms through a simple yet innovative play of alternating elements, as opposed to the Parthenon's bold insertion of Ionic friezes in an ensemble otherwise dominated by mostly Doric features.43
In contrast to the Hephaisteion's balanced treatment of Ionic forms, the Parthenon's Ionic frieze on its sekos represents a sudden departure from nearly everything planned and built up to that point. Its figural procession against a continuous blue background made a stark contrast for viewers expecting to see the characteristic repeated sequence of triglyphs and metopes in the Doric frieze.44 Scholars have hypothesized that the builders originally intended to install a Doric frieze in this location, given the presence of regulae with guttae on the taenia at the top of the architrave (Figure 14; see Figures 1–3).45 Conversely, Barletta argues that the Ionic frieze reflects the original design for the Parthenon. As she observes, during the Classical period triglyphs and metopes do not always accompany regulae with guttae. Furthermore, her analysis of the returns of the frieze (i.e., the portions on the architraves supported by the terminal columns and the antae) suggests these could not accommodate an axial alignment between triglyphs and the antae below.46
However, as Barletta acknowledges, this conclusion is not without its caveats. The widths of the triglyphs on the returns did not necessarily need to be consistent with those across the porch façade, and a Doric frieze there need not have adjusted the width of the terminal metope in accordance with the contraction of the corner interaxial. In addition, at the time of the Parthenon's construction, no hard-and-fast rule stipulated that triglyphs needed to align with antae in the first place.
Despite these issues, two additional considerations arguably strengthen Barletta's observations. First, there is the question of formal coherence. By the 440s BCE, the omission of a toichobate in an Athenian Doric temple building was not a matter of course, but rather an active aesthetic decision. In its place, the Parthenon's square-edged base runs continuously with the pair of steps, forming a raised platform for the sekos (see Figure 14). Similarly, its simple profile creates a visual seamlessness with the surrounding Doric columns—an effect augmented by the Parthenon's emphatically narrow pteroma (the roofed, colonnaded portico on the stylobate outside the sekos) and the density of its columns with respect to other Classical examples. It is hard to imagine that the Parthenon's builders would have first designed with this focus on tightly integrated form and then followed that focus with a frieze of triglyphs featuring either inconsistent widths or an arrangement in the frieze lacking any correspondence to the vertical accents of the antae below. Second, as discussed in the following section, the relevance of a hypothetical original Doric frieze for the period of the Parthenon's construction remains unclear.
The Original Plan
The controversy over whether the continuous frieze on the sekos reflects a departure or the original design raises the question: Given what we know about paradeigmata, what exactly do we mean by “original design”? By considering the process of creating the Parthenon's ground plan, we can begin to rethink the design of the elevation of the sekos, including the planning of its frieze.
The substructures beneath the sekos and pteroma preserve evidence of a remarkable alteration made during the construction process. After having completed extensive construction on at least some portions of the krepis (the stepped platform supporting the stylobate) and foundations, the builders, it seems, chose to dismantle and reposition the wall foundations inward toward the building's main axis, thereby narrowing the sekos slightly and widening the pteroma by approximately 7 centimeters on both the north and south sides.47 As Manolis Korres rightly observes, such a small difference would not have any perceptible effect in terms of widening the Parthenon's uniquely narrow pteroma. Instead, the only likely explanation for this reconstruction appears to be the “rule of the second column,” whereby the outer planes of the sekos walls align with the central axis of the second and penultimate column on the façades (see Figure 7).48 The magnitude of this effort underscores the builders’ commitment to this patently Doric rule for the design of hexastyle peripteral temples.
In light of the Parthenon's reputation as a paragon of perfection, this reconstruction work might suggest surprisingly poor planning. Yet by no means does it reflect an error or lack of foresight on the part of the Parthenon's builders. Normally, the rule of the second column pertains to porches with two columns in antis, and therefore a breadth for the sekos corresponding to three interaxials (see Figure 10). By contrast, the Parthenon's prostyle hexastyle porches comprise a novel arrangement of five interaxials, two of which are contracted.49 Reduced-scale ground plans offered little help in projecting the eventual correspondences between antae and peristyle columns, since the negligible differences of an exact alignment—10 centimeters at the very most for either wall—defied graphic representation.
Instead, the decision to align the walls with the second and penultimate columns arguably resulted from the production of full-scale ground plans.50 After establishing a convex curvature for the euthynteria, builders could mark out the outer edges of the stylobate and the placements of the peristyle columns on its surface, similar to the markings observed at Samos.51 This abbreviated ground plan allowed them to establish the sizes and arrangements of the marble blocks of the first step and the joints between them, aligned with the axes of the columns to be positioned above. Following the completion of the two steps of the krepis along the flanks, after extensive quarrying, transporting, and positioning of masonry, the blocks of the second step provided the surface on which to mark out the walls of the sekos, for which those very blocks served as supports directly beneath the level of the stylobate.52 Working at 1:1 scale, the builders would have noticed at this point that the outer face of the sekos wall did not precisely align with the joints of the first step, which determined the axes of the penultimate columns at the short ends of the stylobate.
The long-standing and well-founded skepticism concerning the use of reduced-scale ground plans to design the Parthenon does not negate the possible use of ground plans altogether. Rather, there are good reasons to posit that the builders designed major dimensions and the formal arrangements of columns and walls in plan. But we can identify three key qualities distinguishing the ground plans employed by the builders of the Parthenon. As opposed to modern expectations, the plans would have been (1) executed at full dimensions rather than at reduced scale, (2) carried out piecemeal and transferred to higher platforms as construction progressed, and (3) open to change during the construction process, allowing for shifting dimensions and alignments before the final positions of the superstructure's elements were confirmed. And yet even after the superstructure's planar arrangement was established, much of the design process had yet to begin. As analyzed next, the creation of the Ionic frieze exhibited an analogous process, in which the builders gradually worked out alignments of individual, plastic masses as they moved toward realizing an integrated whole.
In building a peripteral temple's superstructure, one logical sequence was to begin with the construction of the peristyle and then to build from the outside in.53 This way, the builders could explore form, freely developing the complex relationships of parts and moldings in the Doric columns and entablature and modifying these as they went, gauging elements from eye level rather than being compelled to follow an exact height predetermined by the completed walls of the sekos.54 Although the usual strategy of setting the height of the sekos walls after establishing the height of the peristyle worked well enough for simpler temples featuring two columns in antis, the intricacies involved with the prostyle hexastyle configuration of the Parthenon's porches complicated the process. As explained in the following discussion, construction of the superstructure began with the east peristyle, followed by the east porch together with the pronaos as a single unit (see Figures 1 and 12).55 The builders created these parts using an exploratory approach, putting forms into place and then evaluating them, often reworking and shifting them around, thus introducing significant changes into the building process itself.
It may be possible to retrace decisions regarding the placement of the Parthenon's relief sculpture based on specific forms of its moldings and profiles.56 The opisthodomos preserves a smooth, unadorned, inward-facing frieze bordered by a simple band below and crowned by a ceiling bearer of the simple type also found in the Hephaisteion: a plain fascia crowned with a Doric hawksbeak (Figures 15 and 16).57 By contrast, fragments from the pronaos show that an Ionic cyma reversa molding appeared beneath the fascia and hawksbeak molding crowning its interior frieze (no longer extant), an apt embodiment of the integration of Doric and Ionic forms (Figure 17; see Figures 1 and 11). The set of crown moldings that includes the cyma reversa is also found on the inward-facing backers of the peristyle on the opposite side of the Doric frieze (see Figures 1 and 12). Of course, there was no frieze on the backers, but since they face inward toward the sekos, the builders likely included them to complement the same moldings found above the Ionic frieze.58 Therefore, according to Korres, it would appear that the insertion of a cyma reversa molding provided a suitable frame for a sculpted rather than plain frieze. By extension, the presence of this molding in the pronaos suggests the intention to include figural sculpture in its frieze, although no evidence for this sculpting has yet appeared. Interestingly, the moldings on the backers of the east peristyle originally included just the fascia and the hawksbeak molding as found in the opisthodomos, and evidence shows that masons reworked the backers to include the cyma reversa molding. Subsequently, masons cut thicker backers to accommodate the revised profiles of moldings on the south, north, and west peristyles (Figure 18; see Figure 14). As this modification suggests, the east peristyle offered a key site for design experiments and changes; once its forms were fixed, it served as a model for continued construction.
The recarving and repositioning of major elements, and the resulting alterations of the dimensions of their masses and spaces, provide the most dramatic evidence for the fluid creativity and paradigmatic purpose of the east front. After setting the six columns in position on the east porch, the builders recarved them, reducing the diameters of the four central columns by nearly 6.5 centimeters and the diameters of the columns at either end by more than 9 centimeters.59 This resulted in an eastward gain of about 3.5 centimeters in the floor space of the pronaos. In addition, masons carved back the socle of the east face of the wall of the pronaos about 12 centimeters, increasing the gain in floor space to more than 15 centimeters. The expansion of the pronaos compensated for another major alteration to the east front. Here, builders carved back the lower of the two steps leading up to the pronaos. They also dismantled the upper step and moved it to a new position slightly to the west. In addition, they dismantled and moved the six prostyle columns westward, the same columns that were later recarved in their new and finalized positions. Finally, they shifted forward the positions of both the architrave and frieze blocks where they rested on the peristyle columns. The results of these adjustments were gains of approximately 15.6 centimeters in floor space and 22 centimeters at frieze level in the upper space of the east porch, as well as a corresponding truncation of the returns. These revised dimensions, deriving from the new positions of the steps and columns, determined the design of the west end from the start of its construction, indicating that these portions of the east front served as the model for that design.
Korres explains these changes as the builders’ effort to accommodate viewing space in response to the decision to sculpt the metopes planned for the frieze on the sekos.60 This view partially aligns with Burkhardt Wesenberg's earlier argument that Pheidias, the famous master of the Parthenon's sculptural program, relocated the carved metopes originally intended for the porches to the Doric frieze over the south peristyle to accommodate the continuous figural frieze around the sekos.61 As Korres correctly observes, the height of the metopes in the south peristyle disproves Wesenberg's theory. Korres instead justifies the departure from an original design for a Doric frieze in the porches by pointing to the authority of the polis that, intent upon glorifying the political, economic, and cultural ascendancy of Athens, revised the sculptural program to commemorate the Panathenaic procession.62 Korres argues that the builders also planned to extend figural sculpture into the inward-facing frieze within the east pronaos, although he does not support this claim with any material evidence.63
For the Parthenon's builders, the frieze's order needed to negotiate the interactions of the porches and their component features. The integration of hexastyle arrangements fronting antae required new solutions beyond those offered by other mainland and Saronic limestone Doric temples with distyle in antis configurations, such as the Early Classical Temple of Aphaia at Aigina (470s BCE) and the Temple of Zeus at Olympia (472–456 BCE). Within the enclosed space of a pronaos, a Doric frieze required triglyphs placed side by side at the angles. In Greek architecture, triglyphs commonly meet at the outer corners of a peristyle, sekos, or treasury building. Multiwing stoas where wider interaxials present different possible solutions often exhibit abutted triglyphs at inner corners, but temples constructed prior to the Parthenon hardly ever adopted such a solution. Thus the naos of the Parthenon is restored with a two-story Doric colonnade omitting triglyphs.64 Similarly, the continuous frieze in the naos of Iktinos's Doric Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae formed part of a completely Ionic arrangement.65 It seems likely that the inward-facing frieze course running continuously around the peristyle backers within the east porch of the Hephaisteion reflects the design for the pronaos and opisthodomos of the Parthenon (Figure 19).66 To emphasize the continuity of this course with the figural frieze, the builders of the Hephaisteion extended the porch entablature across the pteroma (see Figure 16). But as for triglyphs and metopes within an interior setting, the only example I know from the Classical period is the Temple of Apollo on Delos from the second quarter of the fifth century BCE, with fragmentary remains suggesting a Doric frieze on all four sides of the pronaos. Its context within a space behind an in antis arrangement limits its value as precedent for the Parthenon, however.67
More suitable typological parallels may be posited from the Archaic era, though these possible precedents are particularly problematic. The reconstruction of the Archaic precursor to the Early Classical Temple of Aphaia at Aigina, built in poros limestone without a peristyle, is exceptional as a prostyle tetrastyle arrangement with a Doric frieze along three sides within its pronaos (Figure 20). But this building dates all the way back to ca. 570 BCE, and in its spacing and proportions it exhibits an apparent lack of concern with alignments and consistent sizing of elements.68 Given the design preference for integration as detailed above, it is especially hard to imagine that the Parthenon's builders would have turned to this Archaic precedent. Also, this building was destroyed in the Persian war and subsequently replaced, so it seems unlikely that the builders of the Parthenon would even have been aware of it. More locally, if the Athenian city-state or Pheidias wanted an example for an Ionic frieze for the Parthenon, they might have looked no further than the temple from the end of the sixth century BCE on the Dörpfeld foundations to the immediate north of the Parthenon. This temple, which had been in ruins since the Persian destruction of 480 BCE, is traditionally identified as the Old Temple of Athena and understood as a precursor to the Erechtheion. Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway argues that this temple may have provided a local precedent for the Ionic frieze of the Parthenon, but the sculptural relief fragments of a supposed Ionic frieze that would support such a reconstruction bear no demonstrable connection with any temple, let alone one that stood on the Dörpfeld foundations.69 Moreover, there can be no clarity on whether such a hypothetical influence would have occurred as part of the original design of the Parthenon, or as a departure from such a design after the builders first committed to a triglyph-metope frieze.70 As an additional possibility, Ridgway posits an Ionic frieze planned for the Older Parthenon. However, since construction had been completed on only a few courses of the Older Parthenon by the time it was destroyed in 480/479 BCE, there is nothing to substantiate such a hypothetical design.71
Beyond the question of precedents, reflecting on the diversity of the project's workers may also counter the notion of a top-down, external directive to change the order of the frieze from Doric to Ionic. To build such a large, labor-intensive, all-marble superstructure in a relatively compressed time frame required an enormous skilled workforce. Many stonemasons must have come from the Cyclades, which was the birthplace of Ionic columns and extensive construction in marble—two of the more essential ingredients of the Ionic order as it developed in Ionia, from which some builders of the Parthenon also might have come.72 The possible collaborative agency of masons contributing to the design process in no way diminishes the role of the Parthenon's architect(s) in creating the unified whole of the Parthenon. But given the builders involved, intrusions of Ionic form such as the friezes, antae capitals, and the bead-and-reel molding crowning the peristyle friezes were perhaps not only inevitable but also welcome (see Figure 8).73
In addition to considering the origins of masons, I propose that the Ionic frieze on the sekos emerged not from dictates concerning the sculptural program but rather as part of the design process surrounding the treatment of the trabeation inside the pronaos and opisthodomos. The builders had to decide whether to articulate the upper walls of these spaces with anything other than ceiling bearers. When we consider that the Parthenon represents the most sculpted Greek temple building of all time, the proposal advanced by Korres for a sculpted pronaos interior becomes compelling, whether it was only conceived in the abstract or actually completed.74
In such case, if the builders could choose either triglyphs or a continuous frieze within the pronaos, I argue that only the latter was tenable. As we will see, the aesthetic impossibility of incorporating triglyphs and metopes here explains the builders’ unprecedented introduction of Ionic friezes into the Parthenon. Following this decision, the builders then transferred the continuous form of the pronaos frieze to the outward-facing trabeation and expanded it along the long walls of the sekos to create the Ionic form of the Parthenon frieze.
Rather than answering to an outside authority's change of plans or imitating precedents, the Parthenon's builders explored their solution for the prostyle arrangement—generally a Cycladic feature—as an experimental approach to determining dimensions and formal relationships for the plan of the building. Had a Doric rather than smooth frieze been installed within the pronaos, the prostyle arrangement of columns with their corner contractions would have dictated the position of the triglyphs, requiring consistency both on the transverse frieze within the pronaos and on the Doric frieze of the east porch. Yet the thickness of the beams on the returns also reduces the length of the transverse friezes (see Figure 14). As the calculations-based reconstructions here illustrate, the abbreviated expanse required eliminating the corner triglyphs at the inner angles or widening the outer metopes by nearly half their normal size—either option being an abomination of Classical design (Figure 21).75 From a slightly later date, the stoa at Brauron (420s BCE) features innovative half-triglyphs at the angles, but its corner interaxials expand rather than contract in order to accommodate three rather than two metopes per interaxial—and even then, the awkward solution of dividing the metope nearest the angle in half was required.76
Yet the Parthenon's alternative of a continuous frieze inside the pronaos not only responded to the problems posed by the prostyle columns but also offered a simple and elegant solution as a smooth, unbroken surface all the way around the inward-facing entablature.77 As a further extension toward integrated form, this frieze was accompanied by a set of crown moldings that wrapped around the inner, frontal, and outer surfaces of the antae's square-edged reveals, connecting the Ionicized character of the pronaos with the outer wall faces of the sekos (see Figures 1, 11, and 12).
The resulting coherence between the spaces of the pteroma, pronaos, and opisthodomos can only be the product of a design process emphasizing continuity and integration. The ancient Greek etymology of frieze, connoting the fastening of parts together, further supports such an interpretation.78 In the Parthenon, the composites of taeniae and regulae on the porches are on the same level as—and of equal height to—the simple bands both within the pronaos and opisthodomos and along the flanks of the sekos (see Figures 1, 11, and 12). Running continuously around the corners on the inner and outer faces of the entablatures on both ends, these projections crown the architrave to suggest thin, rectilinear plates slicing clean through simple, prismatic masses and cordoning identical faces back-to-back. At the same time, the moldings running continuously around the antae capitals further reinforce the sense of unity in the corners. This set of interconnected and yet largely underappreciated features constitutes one of the chief innovations of the Parthenon. More than simply a blending of the Doric and Ionic orders, these moldings enabled the complete unification and fluid interconnection of a sequence of spaces through the wide screens of six interior columns.
Had the builders instead combined the smooth friezes of the pronaos and opisthodomos with a busy sequence of triglyphs and metopes in the frieze around the sekos, the unified character of the transitional spaces floating within the pteroma would have expressed a very different impulse from the balanced, alternating strokes of Doric and Ionic elements in the porch of the Hephaisteion as described above. Even if the Parthenon's builders entertained this possibility, they rejected it in favor of a finalized expression of fully integrated forms, which includes the subtle articulation of the varied spacing of the Doric prostyle columns below by way of regulae and guttae. The omission of the accompanying triglyphs furthermore established a blank slate around the perimeter of the sekos walls, offering sculptors the extraordinary opportunity to create a continuous and unified figural procession, together with the scene of the peplos dedicated to Athena in the presence of the Olympian gods, thereby generating one of the most innovative works of ancient Greek art.
Expanding the Notion of an “Original Design”
It remains possible that responsibility for the Ionic form of the celebrated Parthenon frieze should be credited to the authority of the polis for instituting a change of sculptural program that called for a continuous figural procession exalting Athenian civic identity and thus jettisoning the original Doric frieze planned for the sekos. But to quote C. Edson Armi from his recent study of the Romanesque abbey church at Cluny, the alternative proposal discussed here favors “the role of hands-on decision makers and the hard realities of construction, structure, and design.”79 I argue that the conception of the Ionic frieze around the sekos of the Parthenon emerged as part of a wholly internal process of exploratory modeling by the builders working on-site, grappling with the challenges posed by the integration of friezes in the pronaos and the sekos with a Doric prostyle columnar arrangement. The precise point in the construction process when the builders finalized the decision for Ionic friezes remains unknown. But the reworking of the ceiling bearers on the peristyle backers, together with the dismantling, repositioning, and recarving of the columns, lower step, and socle in the east porch and pronaos, suggests that the decision to sculpt the friezes was made only after construction reached a relatively advanced stage in this part of the building. The likelihood that considerations related to the sculptural program dictated the Ionic form of the friezes is further diminished by the distinct architectural necessity of a continuous frieze in the pronaos, which eliminated the inherent difficulties of accommodating triglyphs with the prostyle hexastyle arrangement.
If we recognize how decisions that occurred in the eastern parts of the Parthenon helped to guide subsequent construction throughout the building, we see that the alterations undertaken in those parts during construction represent an integral part of the design process rather than a departure from a theoretical original design. In addition to the merits of Barletta's arguments favoring the Ionic frieze as belonging to the original design of the Parthenon, the identification of the eastern portions of the superstructure as a model further bolsters her assertion that the Ionic frieze as completed did not replace a hypothetical established plan for a Doric frieze over the porches or around the sekos. Whether or not there were ever moments when the Parthenon's builders assumed that all friezes in the building would be Doric is irrelevant; rather, as in the architecture of later cultures and periods, all possibilities remained open during the design process. In light of the ample evidence that the builders worked through the design of the Parthenon during construction—as well as the absence of any indication for reduced-scale drawings and models in the design process of temple buildings in the Classical period—the arguments here may help to enable a more concrete understanding of what is meant by “original design” in the seemingly perfectionist, detail-obsessive, and deeply embodied creative practices of the ancient Greek art of building.
At the University of Arizona, funding from Research, Discovery, and Innovation and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences supported travel and equipment for this article. A Samuel H. Kress Fellowship from the American Research Institute in Turkey enabled fieldwork in Ionia that led me to new questions about the context of Ionic friezes. This article has benefited from recent conversations with Ingrid Rowland and Thomas Noble Howe, and I am forever indebted to their published revelations about ancient architectural practices and thought, which originally inspired and continue to inform my research; my frequency of citing their work cannot do justice to how much I have internalized their groundbreaking ideas. I received invaluable comments and feedback at various stages of this project from Courtney Friesen, Kevin Gosner, Jeffrey Hurwit, David Gilman Romano, Irene Bald Romano, Kristen Seaman, and other responsive audience members in Eugene and Tucson. For support and guidance, I thank Antony Augoustakis, Diane Favro, Alison Futrell, Suna Guven, Dianne Harris, Steven Johnstone, Areli Marina, Heather Hyde Minor, Vernon Hyde Minor, Megan Senseney, Andrew Stewart, and Fikret Yegül. David Karmon, editor of JSAH, and an especially thoughtful anonymous reviewer improved the final product greatly. This article is dedicated to the memory of Barbara Barletta, both for her encouragement and for her incredible scholarship, without which this article would not exist. I own all mistakes and errors of judgment.
Burkhardt Wesenberg, “Parthenongebälk und Südmetopenproblem,” Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts 98 (1983), 57–86; Manolis Korres, “The Sculptural Adornment of the Parthenon,” in Acropolis Restoration: The CCAM Interventions, ed. Richard Economakis (London: Academy Editions, 1994), 33; Manolis Korres, “Der Plan des Parthenon,” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Athenische Abteilung 109 (1994), 53–120, esp. 91–92; Jenifer Neils, The Parthenon Frieze (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 38–39; T. Leslie Shear Jr., Trophies of Victory: Public Building in Periklean Athens (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2016), 100. The theory of an original Doric frieze of triglyphs and metopes dates back to Wilhelm Dörpfeld, “Der Tempel von Sunion,” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Athenische Abteilung 9 (1884), 336. The counterview supported in the present study is put forth in Barbara A. Barletta, “In Defense of the Ionic Frieze of the Parthenon,” American Journal of Archaeology 113 (2009), 547–68.
See Lothar Haselberger, “Werkzeichnungen am jüngeren Didymaion,” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Abteilung Istanbul 30 (1980), 191–215; Lothar Haselberger, “Bericht über die Arbeit am Jüngeren Apollontempel von Didyma,” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Abteilung Istanbul 33 (1983), 90–123; Lothar Haselberger, “Die Bauzeichnungen des Apollontempels von Didyma,” Architectura 13 (1983), 13–26.
For the chronology of the Hephaisteion and discussion of its reflection of earlier features in the Parthenon, see Andrew Stewart, “Classical Sculpture from the Athenian Agora, Part 1: The Pediments and Akroteria of the Hephaisteion,” Hesperia 87 (2018), 681–82, with extensive bibliographic citations in note 2.
In accordance with scholarly consensus on influences coming from the Parthenon, the Hephaisteion's peristyle backers (completed at an unknown date, perhaps in the late 440s) and figural friezes (carved in the late 430s) almost certainly derive from the Parthenon's friezes and bordering moldings within the pronaos and opisthodomos and along the upper walls of the sekos, as analyzed together in the present study. For questions about the Parthenon's influence and the dating of the peristyles of the Hephaisteion, see Sheer, Trophies of Victory, 143–49.
For analysis of epigraphic evidence and its relation to practices of scale architectural drawing, see J. J. Coulton, Ancient Greek Architects at Work: Problems of Structure and Design (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1977), 57, 68–73, 170n24. Resemblances of detail in the Parthenon and Propylaia affirm the constitutive rather than imitative role that shared masons played in these contemporary projects in spite of their having different architects, and therefore the limited reach of design prior to the active unfolding of form creation during the construction process. See Jens Andreas Bundgaard, Mnesicles: A Greek Architect at Work (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1957), 96–97, along with the collection of epigraphic passages referring to models, 216–19n217. On these passages, see also J. J. Pollitt, The Ancient View of Greek Art: Criticism, History, and Terminology (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1974), 204–7; T. Leslie Shear Jr., “A Template for Carving Mouldings,” in Καλλίστευμα: Μελέτες προς τιμήν της Όλγας Τζάχου-Αλεξανδρή, ed. Alexandra Alexandri and Iphigeneia Leventi (Athens: ICOM, 2001), 397–99. For epigraphic evidence of full-sized models for individual features rather than small-scale models projecting whole buildings, see note 33, below.
This long-standing tendency is prevalent in the two studies of the Parthenon that the present article responds to most extensively: Korres's “Der Plan des Parthenon” and Barletta's, “In Defense of the Ionic Frieze of the Parthenon.” While the former advocates the Ionic frieze as a departure from a plan that included a Doric frieze on the sekos, the latter holds that the Ionic frieze belonged to the original design.
The sculpting of the Ionic frieze was begun both in situ on the east, north, and south and on the ground for the west frieze, 442/41. The overall dates of the Parthenon's construction and sculpture are 447/46–433/32 BCE. Inscriptiones Graecae (hereafter IG) I3 436–51; Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum LX 47.102. On the building and sculpting chronology, see John G. Younger and Paul Rehak, “Technical Observations on the Sculptures from the Temple of Zeus at Olympia,” Hesperia 78 (2009), 46–47; Andrew Stewart, “An Absolute Chronology of Attic Sculpture, 450–390 B.C.,” in Excellence: Studies in Honour of Olga Palagia, ed. Hans Ruprecht Goette and Iphegeneia Leventi (Rahden: Verlag Marie Leidorf, 2019), 86. For a full discussion of the epigraphic evidence for the chronology of the Parthenon, see Shear, Trophies of Victory, 43–69.
Marvin Trachtenberg, Building-in-Time: From Giotto to Alberti and Modern Oblivion (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2010), 134–39.
For an eloquently argued opposing view that the proportional niceties of governing ratios (particularly by way of modules) indeed carried a significant aesthetic value for the visual experience of the Parthenon, see Mark Wilson Jones, “Approaches to Architectural Proportion and the ‘Poor Old Parthenon,’” in Proportional Systems in the History of Architecture: A Critical Consideration, ed. Maarten Delbeke and Matthew A. Cohen (Leiden: Leiden University Press, 2018), 199–231.
Similarly, the word ΠΑΡΑΔΕΓΜΑ (model) was inscribed along the expanse of stone-built lining at the polis end of the tunnel through Mount Kastro on Samos prior to 538 BCE, likely in reference to the completed masonry, which was to serve as a model for the continued construction along the same trajectory. See Burkhardt Wesenberg, “Das Paradeigma des Eupalinos,” Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts 122 (2007), 33–49.
See Barletta, “In Defense of the Ionic Frieze.”
Korres, “Der Plan des Parthenon,” 91; Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway, Prayers in Stone: Greek Architectural Sculpture ca. 600–100 B.C.E. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 200–201.
For overviews of the primary sources and scholarship on the Parthenon's architects, see the entries by Manolis Korres for “Iktinos,” “Kallikrates,” and “Karpion,” in Künstlerlexikon der Antike, vol. 1, ed. Rainer Vollkommer (Munich: De Gruyter Saur, 2001), 338–45, 387–93, 404–5; Barbara A. Barletta, “The Architecture and Architects of the Classical Parthenon,” in The Parthenon: From Antiquity to the Present, ed. Jenifer Neils (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 88–95. On the evidence for the building process of the Parthenon, see Shear, Trophies of Victory, 43–69. On the traditional lack of separation between masons and sculptors in ancient Greece, which began to change in the High Classical period, see Jessica Paga, “The Claw-Tooth Chisel and the Hekatompedon Problem: Issues of Tool and Technique in Archaic Athens,” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Athenische Abteilung 127–28 (2012–13), 174–75.
On the state of construction of the Older Parthenon in 480 BCE, see Manolis Korres, “The Parthenon,” in The Parthenon: Architecture and Conservation, ed. Georgios A. Panetsos and T. Seki (Athens: Committee for the Conservation of Acropolis Monuments, Foundation for Hellenic Culture, 1996), 18.
See B. H. Hill, “The Older Parthenon,” American Journal of Archaeology 16 (1912), 535–58; William Bell Dinsmoor, “The Date of the Older Parthenon,” American Journal of Archaeology 38 (1934), 408–48; Johannes S. Boersma, Athenian Building Policy from 561/0 to 405/4 B.C. (Groningen: Wolters, 1970), 38–39; Jens Andreas Bundgaard, The Parthenon and the Mycenaean City on the Heights (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1976), 61–67; Manolis Korres, “The Architecture of the Parthenon,” in The Parthenon and Its Impact in Modern Times, ed. Panayotis Tournikiotis (Athens: Melissa, 1994), 56; Manolis Korres, From Pentelicon to the Parthenon: The Ancient Quarries and the Story of a Half-Worked Column Capital of the First Marble Parthenon (Athens: Melissa, 1995). On the fascinating possibility that the lapis primus had served as an architrave block for the Older Parthenon, see Margaret M. Miles, “The Lapis Primus and the Older Parthenon,” Hesperia 80 (2011), 657–75.
Korres, From Pentelicon to the Parthenon, 50–59. On the reuse of stylobate blocks, see Korres, “Der Plan des Parthenon,” 79. On the general reuse of materials and cost-effectiveness, see William Bell Dinsmoor, “How the Parthenon Was Planned,” Architecture 48, no. 1 (1923), 242; Spencer A. Pope, “Financing and Design: The Development of the Parthenon Program and the Parthenon Building Accounts,” in Miscellanea Mediterranea, ed. R. Ross Holloway (Providence: Joukowski Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, 2000).
In order to fit the dimensions of the Periklean building (33.68 by 72.31 m), the podium of the Older Parthenon was expanded on its north side. See Korres, “Architecture of the Parthenon,” 51–61.
On the design of the Parthenon, see Gene Waddell, “The Principal Design Methods for Greek Doric Temples and Their Modification for the Parthenon,” Architectural History 45 (2002), 1–31; Mark Wilson Jones, “Doric Measure and Architectural Design 2: A Modular Reading of the Classical Temple,” American Journal of Archaeology 105 (2001), 675–713, esp. 697; Wilson Jones, “Approaches to Architectural Proportion.”
10.433 m = 32 feet of 0.326 m. See Waddell, “Principal Design Methods for Greek Doric Temples,” 17, 19. The height is virtually the same as that of the columns of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia of the 460s BCE, which measure between 10.42 and 10.44 m, and the repetition of this height for the columns of the Parthenon can only have been deliberate. See Jeffrey M. Hurwit, “The Parthenon and the Temple of Zeus at Olympia,” in Periklean Athens and Its Legacy: Problems and Perspectives, ed. Judith M. Barringer and Jeffrey M. Hurwit (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005), 138, with discussion of earlier scholarship at note 19. For an overview of the metrology of the Parthenon, see Korres, “Der Plan des Parthenon,” 62–64. Builders achieved the increase in height for the columns by adding one drum, resulting in shafts of eleven drums total. See Manolis Korres, “Recent Discoveries on the Acropolis,” in Economakis, Acropolis Restoration, 176; Korres “Architecture of the Parthenon,” 90. The resulting height is 5.48 lower column diameters, contrasting with the sturdier proportions of the columns of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, with a height of 4.7 lower column diameters. The Parthenon's columns are instead comparable to those of the Temple of Aphaia at Aigina, which are equal to 5.32 lower column diameters. As discussed later in this article, the Parthenon's comparatively slender columns are also consistent with a workforce that would have included Cycladic masons, who would have been familiar with the Cycladic practice of using elongated columns. See J. J. Coulton, “The Parthenon and Periklean Doric,” in Der Parthenon-Kongress Basel: Referate und Berichte 4. bis 8. April 1982, ed. Ernst Berger (Mainz: Von Zabern, 1984), 43–44.
W. Watkiss Lloyd, “On the General Theory of Proportion in Architectural Design, and Its Exemplification in Detail in the Parthenon,” in An Investigation of the Principles of Athenian Architecture, or The Results of a Survey Conducted Chiefly with Reference to the Optical Refinements Exhibited in the Construction of the Ancient Buildings at Athens, by Francis Cranmer Penrose, enlarged ed. (London: Macmillan, 1888), 111–16. During construction of the columns, however, variations of as much as 4.8 cm occurred in the sizes of the interaxials. See J. J. Coulton, “Towards Understanding Greek Temple Design: General Considerations,” Papers of the British School at Athens 70 (1975), 90n47; Barletta, “Architecture and Architects of the Classical Parthenon,” 74n32.
This is the Proportionsmodul of 0.858 m proposed by Ernst Berger in “Zum Mass-und Proportionssystem des Parthenon: Ein Nachwort zur Diskussion des Bauentwurfes,” in Berger, Parthenon-Kongress Basel, 119–74.
10.433 m + 2.7 m + 0.6 m = 13.733 m, or 16 modules of 0.858 m.
On the 16:81 ratio, see Burkhardt Wesenberg, “Wer erbaute den Parthenon?,” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Athenische Abteilung 97 (1982), 118–23; Barletta, “Architecture and Architects of the Classical Parthenon,” 73, 73n29.
Francis Cranmer Penrose was the first to analyze the 4:9 ratio between the height of the order and the width of the stylobate. See Penrose, Investigation of the Principles of Athenian Architecture, 118.
This was first observed in James Stuart and Nicholas Revett, The Antiquities of Athens, vol. 2 (Athens: J. Nichols, 1787), 8. See Gottfried Gruben, Griechische Tempel und Heiligtümer, 5th ed. (Munich: Hirmer, 2001), 185; Barletta, “Architecture and Architects of the Classical Parthenon,” 72–74.
On this Archaic and Classical feature, see Margaret M. Miles, “Constructing Architects: The So-Called ‘Theseum Architect,’” in Artists and Artistic Production in Ancient Greece, ed. Kristen Seaman and Peter Schultz (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), 116.
See Waddell, “Principal Design Methods for Greek Doric Temples,” 19.
As opposed to the present article's emphasis on exploratory design through modeling, Wilson Jones argues that the various parts were designed according to measurements, which would include precise fractions like 36/7 modules for the trabeation (difference = +11 mm), 5/7 modules for the geison block (difference = +13 mm), and several others where adjustments of differences sometimes result in correlations to whole-number measurements in one of three kinds of foot measurements. See Wilson Jones, “Approaches to Architectural Proportion,” esp. 202, 213.
Coulton, Ancient Greek Architects at Work, 57, 68–73.
A paradeigma might also be accompanied by a two-dimensional template known as an anagrapheus, used for setting the profiles of moldings, perhaps like those of the Parthenon's ceiling bearers discussed later in this article. For excellent discussions and summaries of secondary literature, see Coulton, Ancient Greek Architects at Work, 55–58, 72–73; Shear, “Template for Carving Mouldings.”
For the Stoa of the Bulls at Delos, the contracts from prior to 315 BCE specify the contractor's responsibility for transporting the model for the Ionic capitals and setting it in place (IG II2 1678, lines 10–14).
The models for the rosettes and acanthus in the soffit of the Erechtheion in 408/7 BCE were made of wax (IG I3 476, lines 259–266). Plaster was used for at least one of the models referred to in the records of payments to the workmen who supplied them for the Temple of Asklepios at Epidauros in ca. 380 BCE (IG IV2 102), which include reference to models for a metal grille (line 296) and a polychromatic lion-head spout (line 303), as indicated by a record specifying one such workman as a plasterer (lines 250–51), though the material of the model for the astragal and cyma moldings in the nearby Tholos at the sanctuary is not specified (IG IV2 103, lines 90–91). Wooden models are specified in a reference to a star-shaped molding (ἀστέρος) in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi in 341 BCE (Fouilles de Delphes III, 5, 20, lines 4–5), a reference in the Delos accounts (279 BCE) to wood left over from a model for an unspecified element (IG XI.2, 161 A, line 43), and a reference from 330/329 BCE to a painted wooden triglyph from the arsenal of Philo stored by the naval commissioners of Athens (IG II2 1627, lines 325–27; 1628, line 508; 1629, line 983; 1631, line 219). As argued by Shear, the fact that the payment amount to a certain Hektoridas for the above-mentioned painted model for the lion-head water spouts for the Temple of Asklepios at Epidauros (16½ drachmas) in ca. 380 BCE pales in comparison to the 17 staters paid to Nikodamos the Argive for his model for lion-head water spouts at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi in 342 BCE may reflect that the latter model may have been a prototype proper to the building as opposed to an ephemeral model. See Shear, “Template for Carving Mouldings,” 399–400, along with his arguments concerning additional epigraphic evidence for stone models or prototypes to be embedded within the architectural fabric.
Penrose was the first to observe these adjustments. Penrose, Investigation of the Principles of Athenian Architecture, 14–16 and plates 5–6.
See Ingrid D. Rowland, “Raphael, Angelo Colocci, and the Genesis of the Architectural Orders,” Art Bulletin 76 (1994), 81–104; Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, Ten Books on Architecture, ed. Ingrid D. Rowland and Thomas Noble Howe, trans. Ingrid D. Rowland (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 15; Barbara A. Barletta, The Origins of the Greek Architectural Orders (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 153–56; Barletta, “In Defense of the Ionic Frieze,” 566.
The Temple of Athena at Paestum from the late sixth century, which is outwardly Doric intermixed with Ionic details, originally incorporated eight Ionic columns within its porch, including six freestanding and two engaged columns in a tetrastyle prostyle arrangement. See John Griffiths Pedley, Paestum, Greeks and Romans in Southern Italy (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1990), 54–59 and figs. 27, 31. On the inclusion of Ionic elements in western Greek Doric temples during the Archaic period, see Barbara B. Barletta, “An ‘Ionian Sea’ Style in Archaic Doric Architecture,” American Journal of Archaeology 94 (1990), 45–72; Gruben, Griechische Tempel und Heiligtümer, 269–74. In Athens, the Stoa Poikile featured Ionic columns in its interior. See T. Leslie Shear Jr., “The Athenian Agora: Excavations of 1980–1982,” Hesperia 53 (1984), 9–12; John Mck. Camp II, The Athenian Agora: Excavations in the Heart of Classical Athens (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1986), 66–72. Ionic details appeared in monumental Athenian buildings’ capitals by the sixth century BCE, just as Ionic capitals specifically commonly appeared as votive objects in Athens by the same period. Ionic columns, however, were not incorporated into monumental Athenian buildings until the Classical period. See Elizabeth P. McGowan, “The Origins of the Athenian Ionic Capital,” Hesperia 66 (1997), 230. A prominent exception to avoided intermixture on the exterior of a temple building is the Temple of Athena at Assos from the sixth century BCE, where the architrave of the Doric building is sculpted in the manner of an Ionic frieze.
For discussion and bibliographic sources, see Barletta, “Architecture and Architects of the Classical Parthenon,” 86–87. As Barletta notes, Poul Pedersen offers a design-related argument for Corinthian rather than Ionic capitals, though no material evidence for the capitals has been found. See Poul Pedersen, The Parthenon and the Origin of the Corinthian Capital (Odense: University Press of Southern Denmark, 1989), 21–22.
William Bell Dinsmoor and William Bell Dinsmoor Jr., The Propylaia to the Athenian Akropolis, vol. 2, The Classical Building (Princeton, N.J.: American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2004), 207–9.
Korres, “Architecture of the Parthenon,” 86, 88–90; Barletta, “Architecture and Architects of the Classical Parthenon,” 73.
In addition to a Doric hawksbeak and fillet, the moldings crowning the antae feature a cyma reversa molding, an ovolo with egg-and-tongue decoration, and a carved bead-and-reel astragal. See A. K. Orlandos, Ἡ ἀρχιτεκτονικὴ τοῦ Παρθενῶνος, 3 vols. (Athens: Archaiolike Hetaireia, 1976–78), 1:plates 63–64 and 66–67, 2:314–18, 3:439–43; Korres, “Parthenon,” 50–53, 72–73; Barletta, “Architecture and Architects of the Classical Parthenon,” 84.
Barletta, “In Defense of the Ionic Frieze,” 558–59. The narrowness of the returns is consistent with coeval Attic practice for Doric antae, and therefore the general Ionicization of Doric architecture in Attica during the Classical period. See Anna Dorothea Brockman, Die griechische Ante: Eine typologische Untersuchung (Marburg: Görich & Weiershäuser, 1968), 71–72.
On the toichobate of the Older Parthenon, see Manolis Korres, “The History of the Acropolis Monuments,” in Economakis, Acropolis Restoration, 41.
For analogous critiques of the Parthenon reflected in the Hephaisteion, see Stewart, “Classical Sculpture from the Athenian Agora,” 722.
It is true that Pausanias (1.24.5) does not even mention the Ionic frieze, but as Brunilde S. Ridgway insightfully points out, the context of Pausanias's experiences of Roman architecture would have desensitized him, leading him to perceive continuous friezes as mere ornament. Ridgway, Prayers in Stone, 17–18. The blue background of the frieze was reported by early travelers to the Parthenon. See Frank Brommer, Der Parthenonfries (Mainz: Von Zabern, 1977), 209; Marie-Françoise Billot, “Research in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries on Polychromy in Greek Architecture,” in Paris-Rome-Athens: Travels by French Architects in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, ed. Marie-Christine Hellman (Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1982), 66–67, 69. See also the discussion in Ridgway, Prayers in Stone, 117–18.
See note 2, above.
See Barletta, “In Defense of the Ionic Frieze,” esp. 556–58, 562.
Korres, “Der Plan des Parthenon,” 87–92.
On this rule of design, see Korres, “Architecture of the Parthenon,” 84–86.
Beyond the complexities involved, the rule of the second column was not followed even in the hexastyle Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae, which, according to Pausanias (8.41.9), was another work by the Parthenon's architect, Iktinos. See Korres, “Der Plan des Parthenon,” 90; Frederick A. Cooper, The Temple of Apollo Bassitas, vol. 1, The Architecture (Princeton, N.J.: American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 1996), 369–82.
It is worth noting that notions like “full scale” and “1:1 scale” in distinction to “reduced scale” do not correlate to how the builders of the Parthenon would have thought about design, and that the purpose of these terms here is to clarify the discussion for modern readers. I thank an anonymous reader for suggesting this note of explanation.
Hermann Kienast discovered a full-scale ground plan drawn in red chalk on the foundations of the late sixth-century BCE Temple D at the sanctuary of Hera at Samos; the plan is consistent with markings on the masonry at higher levels. See Hermann J. Kienast, “Der sog: Tempel D im Heraion von Samos,” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Athenische Abteilung 100 (1985), 105–27.
Korres, “Der Plan des Parthenon,” 87–92.
On this general procedure, see John McK. Camp II and William B. Dinsmoor Jr., Athenian Building Methods (Princeton, N.J.: American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 1984); Younger and Rehak, “Technical Observations on the Sculptures,” 44–45. On its application in the Parthenon specifically, see Wesenberg, “Wer erbaute den Parthenon?,” 124–25; Korres, “Architecture of the Parthenon,” 89–90.
The ways in which the builders worked through paradeigmata for any individual parts are lost to us, but a residue of the process may be preserved in the slight departure of the actual triglyph widths from the proportion that underlies the schematic frames in plan and elevation throughout the Parthenon. See Wilson Jones, “Doric Measure and Architectural Design 2,” 697.
For the opposite theory—that is, that construction began in the west—see William Bell Dinsmoor, The Architecture of Ancient Greece, 3rd ed. (London: B. T. Batsford, 1950), 162–63. Dinsmoor's observations are clearly disproven by the findings in Korres, “Der Plan des Parthenon.”
The following observations concerning the moldings of ceiling bearers are based in Korres, “Der Plan des Parthenon,” 92–104, with figs. 20–28.
At the Hephaisteion, these ceiling bearers, along with the appearance of a simple band below a smooth frieze course in the inward-facing backers of the peristyle, likely reflect the influence of the inward-facing entablatures of the Parthenon's pronaos and opisthodomos. See note 5, above.
Barletta, “In Defense of the Ionic Frieze,” 551.
See Korres, “Der Plan des Parthenon,” 79–87, with figs. 14–16, and 108–14, with figs. 30–36.
Korres, “Der Plan des Parthenon,” 91. Against scholarly speculation that the steep viewing angle from within the pteron would have rendered the frieze on the sekos too difficult to read, see Bonna D. Wescoat and Rebecca Levitan, “Seeing the Parthenon Frieze: Notes from Nashville,” in Greek Art in Context: Archaeological and Art Historical Perspectives, ed. Diana Rodríguez Pérez (New York: Routledge, 2017), 57–72.
Wesenberg, “Parthenongebälk und Südmetopenproblem.”
See also Ridgway, Prayers in Stone, 200–201, including reflection on the difficulties of equating this intervention on the part of the city-state with the particular personality of Perikles.
On the pronaos frieze, see Korres, “Der Plan des Parthenon,” 119–20.
See Korres, “Architecture of the Parthenon,” fig. 41.
For sources and a reconstruction, see Coulton, Ancient Greek Architects at Work, 117n48 and fig. 50.
See note 5, above.
Fernand Courby, Les temples d'Apollon: Délos 12 (Paris: De Boccard, 1931), 79–82.
The frieze was omitted over the doorway into the naos. On the fragments of triglyphs and the reconstruction of their friezes, see Ernst-Ludwig Schwandner, Der älterer porostempel der Aphaia auf Aegina (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1985), 60–63, 98, with fragments in figs. 40–42 and the reconstruction illustrated in fig. 59. The reconstruction shows three triglyphs along the lateral portions of the interior frieze. It is interesting that perhaps the clearest possible solution to the problem of vertical alignment with the axes of supporting columns below—eliminating the triglyphs and metopes from the stretch above the prostyle columns rather than above the doorway to the naos—was not the choice the Archaic builders at Aigina made. Instead, the fragments indicate smaller triglyphs than those of the frieze on the exterior, and it appears that correspondence between the outer and inner friezes was abandoned. To a certain degree, any misalignments of the interior triglyphs and the columns below would have been masked by the sheer vertical expanse of a ponderous architrave three courses high.
The fragments, including a piece from a corner block, were not discovered buried within the deposits of Perserschutt on the Acropolis but rather in contexts removed from Archaic material. See Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway, The Archaic Style in Greek Sculpture, 2nd ed. (Chicago: Ares, 1993), 395–97; Ridgway, Prayers in Stone, 199. For doubts about connecting the fragments to the temple, see William A. P. Childs, “The Date of the Old Temple of Athena on the Athenian Acropolis,” in The Archaeology of Athens and Attica under the Democracy: Proceedings of an International Conference Celebrating 2500 Years since the Birth of Democracy in Greece, Held at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, December 4–6, 1992, ed. William D. E. Coulson et al. (Oxford: Oxbow Monographs, 1994), 6n59. Ridgway furthermore connects this earlier Athenian employment of an Ionic frieze with a tetrastyle arrangement of prostyle columns of the Ionic order for the Archaic temple on the Dörpfeld foundations, agreeing with Korres. See Ridgway, Prayers in Stone, 199; Korres, “Architecture of the Parthenon,” 92–93. The hypothetical reconstruction of an Ionic frieze with Ionic columns originates with Hans Schrader, “Der Cellafries des alten Athenatempels,” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Athenische Abteilung 30 (1905), 305–22, esp. 319. However, the two fragments of Ionic capitals associated with this reconstruction were discovered in and near the north wall of the Acropolis. See Theodor Wiegand, Die archaische Poros-Architektur der Akropolis zu Athen (Leipzig: Fisher, 1904), 173. Furthermore, there is no evidence that any Ionic column on the Acropolis or in Athens more broadly was incorporated into a monumental structure prior to the Classical period. See McGowan, “Origins of the Athenian Ionic Capital,” esp. 230.
The question of visual access to the ruins or their partial reconstruction at the time of the Classical Parthenon's construction is notoriously difficult. For epigraphic sources and discussion of what could have remained of the temple on the Dörpfeld foundations, see Jeffrey M. Hurwit, The Athenian Acropolis: History, Mythology, and Archaeology from the Neolithic Era to the Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 143–44. For an assessment of more recent scholarship, see Jan Z. Van Rookhuijzen, “The Parthenon Treasury on the Acropolis of Athens,” American Journal of Archaeology 124 (2020), 14.
See Ridgway, Prayers in Stone, 199. The same difficult question of original designs addressed in the present article applies to the context of the construction of the Older Parthenon.
See Neils, Parthenon Frieze, 38. On the Parthenon's involvement of sculptors from the Cyclades and throughout the Greek world, see Bernard Ashmole, Architect and Sculptor in Classical Greece (London: Phaidon, 1972), 129–33.
Frank Brommer, Die Metopen des Parthenon (Mainz: Von Zabern, 1967), 166.
On the extraordinary degree to which the Parthenon was sculpted, see Clemente Marconi, “The Parthenon Frieze: Degrees of Visibility,” RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics 55–56 (2009), esp. 166–73.
Based on the width of the regulae below the taeniae on the porches, the triglyphs would be 0.80 m wide. These would be accompanied by metopes with widths of 1.289 m, except for those of 1.16 m at the ends because of the contracted corners. These dimensions (0.80 + 1.16 + 0.80 + 1.289 m) correspond to a distance of 4.049 m from the corner of the frieze to the edge of the triglyph over the penultimate column. The entablature on the returns comprises three blocks clamped together for a total thickness of 1.358 m excluding the projecting bands dividing architraves and friezes on either face, locating the edge of the outermost (east) frieze within the pronaos at a point corresponding to more than halfway along the width of the first metope on the porch (1.358 – 0.80 = 0.558 m into a metope 1.16 m wide). On the east transverse frieze within the pronaos, the distance from the corner to the triglyph above the penultimate column would be 2.691 m (= 4.049 – 1.358 m), making it impossible to position triglyphs and metopes in any configuration other than with a gap of 0.602 m between the corner and the first triglyph, or a corner triglyph with an oblong metope with a width of 1.891 m (= 46.7 percent wider than 1.289 m). The widths and height of the theoretical triglyphs and metopes on the porches are taken from Korres, “Der Plan des Parthenon,” 103–4. The thickness of the entablature is calculated from Orlandos, Ἡ ἀρχιτεκτονικὴ τοῦ Παρθενῶνος, 3:figs. 281–82, wherein the three blocks of the entablature on the returns measure 0.508 m, 0.45 m, and 0.495 m, respectively, and the taenia measures 0.027 m, which I double to account for the estimated projection of the band within the pronaos, thereby reducing the sum of the three blocks to 1.358 m. Orlandos's measurements are sufficient for supporting these observations, but see Korres, “Architecture of the Parthenon,” 83.
See Coulton, Ancient Greek Architects at Work, 63–64, with fig. 20, 129–30.
On the similar approach at the Hephaisteion, see note 5, above.
See Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway, Fifth Century Styles in Greek Sculpture (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1981), 75; Ridgway, Prayers in Stone, 128, 200. As Ridgway observes, common ancient Greek words for frieze include ταινία, which means “ribbon” (in modern usage, the taenia is the narrow horizontal band crowning the architrave at the base of the frieze), and διάζωμα, which means “belt.” See also Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, Henry Stuart Jones, and Roderick McKenzie, eds., A Greek-English Lexicon, rev. ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), s.v. “frieze.”
C. Edson Armi, “The Context of the Aisles of the Abbey Church at Cluny,” JSAH 74, no. 1 (Mar. 2015), 81.