The Ionic Frieze Of The Parthenon

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The ionic frieze of the Parthenon was considered by the Italian traveler and antiquarian Cyriac of Ancona as one of the “noblest images” of the Parthenon. The ionic frieze measures some 160-meters, or 524 feet, and is visible along the upper walls of the cella in addition to across the two porches. Cyriac was one of the first individuals to have sketched the figures on the frieze. The subject of the ionic frieze according to Cyriac was “the victories of the Athenians”. The Doric frieze of the Parthenon in the past presented 92 polychromatic carvings. The building upon which the frieze was built in the ionic style was Doric. The two styles of design do not mesh, and did not occur at simultaneous periods in history, making the presence of the ionic frieze something of a mystery. The general meaning of the frieze at large, comprised of many parts, has thereby been drawn into question. While the frieze in in superior condition than other elements of the Parthenon, such as the metopes, pediments, and akroteria, much of it has nonetheless been lost, leaving open room for interpretation. The lack of consensus over the meaning of the contents of the Parthenon is due in part to the height of the frieze. Travelers in the 2nd century A.D., centuries before Cyriac, had noted the pediments; however there was no discussion of the frieze. This may have been due to the fact that the frieze was too high. Conversely, and as will be explored below, some of the legends therein
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