Saturday, January 13, 2018

TFBT: Pausanias 1.16.1+


Greg Nagy presented great insights into “A sampling of comments on Pausanias: 1.16.1–1.17.2 “  Part of the article was about “the marble metopes of the Parthenon.” He adds some socio-political interpretation to them.   

I would like to give an additional layer of allegorical significance to the metopes.  

The Centauromachy, the battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs, is displayed on the south side.  It is the riot that broke out at the wedding of Hippodamia.  The Lapiths were a Greek tribe; the Centaurs were half-men/ half-horse.  Almost universally the symbolic interpretation of the Centauromachy it the victory of man’s higher self over our beastly nature. Sort of like Plato’s two horses.

The Gigantomachy was the Battle of the Gods and Giants.  Shown on the east side.  The gods in question were the Olympians, Athena’s clan.  The Giants  were the Earth-born sons of Gaea (Earth ) sired by the split blood of the sky-god Uranus.  The people of Athens considered  themselves autochthonous, that is born of the earth;  the local soil.  It is hard to imagine them cheering on the destruction of their earthly brothers unless the symbolism  of  the Gigantomachy is the victory of Order over Chaos

On the North side is the Trojan War, which is the kick off point for the great “East is East and West is West “ divide.  (Plus the Athenians were the only ones not accused of atrocities the night Troy fell.  Theseus’ sons were busy looking for their grandmother Aethra. )

Finally, on the North the battle between the Athenians and the Amazons. The Amazons were warrior women from the far edge of the Black Sea.  If the significance of the Amazonomachy was men over women, it would be Greek women.  I would suggest that in addition to Greg’s proposal that a different level of symbolism sees this as the defeat of the “Other”. Here the forces of Chaos are represented by  barbarians who are women, is there any possible group full of such otherness for the Athenians

The Titanomachy, was not represented on the Parthenon. It was the war between the Olympians and another divine clan called the Titans.  I don’t know what the allegorical significance would be. Suggestions?

1 comment:

  1. The Athenians did not portray the Titanomachy. Maybe they identified with the Titans? To me, classical Athens is pretty Titanic.