38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book about a wonder of the world
This book is a delight to read. It tells a fascinating history clearly and in a way that makes you want to read a few more pages before you put it down. It spells out how little we really know about the original uses of the building whilst describing the rich history it has had down the ages. However much you think you know about this building, this book will add to that...
Published on 23 Jan 2004 by mr keith rapley
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not about the Architecture
This is an enjoyable general history of the life of the Parthenon, how it was used and abused through its entire life. Mary Beard seems to have no time for architects though and dismisses any discussion of the design of the parthenon in six lines as Greek tricks of the trade only worth the study of geeks. There is no comparison with other temples, no analysis of how it...
Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ODE TO A GRECIAN METOPE,
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This review is from: The Parthenon (Kindle Edition)
An excellent and informative book written in a cool, clear and precise style. While Mary Beard's prose may not be as lyrical or as all encompassing as that of Gibbon (it isn't) it gets the job done. Though I have to say I rather formed the impression that Ms Beard doesn't have much time for anyone else who may have commented about the Parthenon in the past as the anecdotes all seem somewhat waspish.
In general the book is full of insights about, as you would expect, the Parthenon ranging from ancient times to the very modern and covering topics such as the background to Byron's Maid of Athens to the controversy about the Elgin marbles.
The book has quite a few drawings and plans which contain some very small text. Normally this is not a problem with the IPad as you just `grow' the item, unfortunately the examples in the text don't grow very well in that the text just get blurred.
If you want a wide ranging book about the Parthenon that will make you think as well as inform you then this is it - mind you, at the end of the day Ms Beard's style is vinegar without the fish and if you have any preconceived notions about the place be prepared to have your nose put out of joint - mine was!!
21 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The beauty of the Parthenon -- and how it was trashed,
This review is from: The Parthenon (Wonders of the World) (Paperback)
One chilly February morning, just as dawn was arriving and the shops and offices were still clad in the cold grey of the fading
night, I saw by the dawn's golden glow the full splendour of the Parthenon floating serenely above the narrow streets of
The sun had risen just enough to light the Parthenon. For a moment or so it floated; the Acropolis could have been a cloud
with the Parthenon as a vision of the front door to the home of the gods. It was a perfect metaphor for the reputation of ancient
Athens as a city committed to beauty, elegance, grace and the sensitivity to express artistic values.
Mary Beard has done a superb job in this concise and poignant history, undoubtedly the finest structure of its kind in the
world. The ancients didn't consider it one of the Seven Wonders of the World, they seem to have based their values on
volume instead of quality. Perhaps the Parthenon, even today in its ruined state, should be considered first among the Seven
Beauties of the World.
Her book is a treasure for anyone who has visited the Acropolis; it is essential for anyone who plans to visit Athens and do
more than drink ouzo in some seedy taverna. It's more than a bare-bones history; she recounts the scandals in getting it built,
and the subsequent sins of omission and commission during the past 20 centuries during which this gem was defaced.
Maybe my view is warped because of my first magic view; however, I still regard it as a gift of the gods which mortal humans
have spoiled. Beard doesn't offer any such speculation; instead, she does offer a nuts-and-bolts history of this gem from the
past. That is the strength of her book, she ignores the nonsense and concentrates on facts.
It is also the weakness, in my view. The history is brief but fascinating, but she doesn't understand the psychic importance of
Athena to the Athenians. For a comparison, think of the 'Liberty Enlightening the World' statue in New York harbour and its
significance to all Americans, whether they have seen it or not. Both statues embody the ideals of the society in which they are
displayed; I suggest when you read this book, to keep this comparison in mind to get a full appreciation of just how much each
means to the world.
England, of course, hasn't built a monument since Stonehenge. England builds little statues to honor its heroes; think of the
Albert Memorial. Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square is a mere 59 columns short of a full Parthenon. How about the Millenium Dome to celebrate two millennia of ? ? ? In America, the Statue of Liberty wasn't an American idea, it was a gift from France. It's not easy to come up with an artifact that expresses the ideals of a society through time.
The Parthenon is a timeless monument. Regardless of what or how you think of it, this book will add to your understanding,
appreciation and enjoyment. When you think of how many of today's architectural "gems" will still be visited 2,500 years from
now, it gives you an appreciation of what the Athenians accomplished.
Beard tells you how they did it, and then what happened. It's a superb book.
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The Parthenon by Mary Beard (Paperback - 20 May 2010)