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PARTHENON

Lynn Curlee, Author
Lynn Curlee, Author . S&S/Atheneum $17.95 (34p) ISBN 978-0-689-84490-4
Reviewed on: 07/26/2004
Release date: 07/01/2004
Paperback - 40 pages - 978-1-4424-3094-5
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Just in time for the Summer Olympics in Greece comes this fitting tribute to Athens' greatest architectural achievement. From its opening sentence, Curlee's (Brooklyn Bridge ) precise, graceful chronicle of this Greek masterpiece captures the drama of its turbulent history: "It is one of the greatest sights in the world—the lofty, barren windswept rock encircled by massive ramparts, the flat terraces of its summit encrusted with the weathered stones of ancient shrines." The author provides a detailed account of the stages of the Parthenon's construction 25 centuries ago as a temple to Athena, "crowning the summit" of the Acropolis (the name given to the rocky citadel towering over the city). Some of the particulars of the process are astounding: "except for the wooden roof beams and the interior ceilings, [the structure is] built entirely of marble"—many thousands of tons of it—which was transported by oxcart from quarries 10 miles away. The architects made the bold and revolutionary move of using the Ionic Order inside a Doric temple. And, like other ancient Greek temples, the Parthenon was built using no mortar; as the author states, "a Greek temple is held in place only by gravity." Curlee's crisp, closely focused acrylic on canvas art underscores the building's grandeur and spotlights its structural components as well as the elaborate decoration, including the Ionic style frieze containing an astonishing 1,700 square feet of relief sculpture. All ages. (July)

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