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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 6 August 2017
A full history of the Parthenon from soup to nuts.
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on 5 June 2017
She debunks the history and tell it like it is.
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VINE VOICEon 18 September 2012
The Parthenon is one of the most famous and controversial buildings in the world. Furthermore, the whole 'Elgin marble thing' is so complicated and the disputes so old that it is all rather confusing. In steps Mary Beard with her incomparable knowledge and understanding of the Ancient World, her clear and brilliantly funny prose and a knack for getting down to the real issues. If I sound like a fan its because I am. This book breaks down the chronology of the building, what was built when, what was destroyed/taken down when and throws in a story or two along the way. It is a fascinating insight into a truly amazing building with a very long and complex past. I even found myself getting upset as Mary goes through the changes the building underwent, including the defacement of the friezes. The book has been updated from when it was first released and now includes information on the purpose built building that is meant to store the marbles upon their return. Word to the wise, do not expect Mary to say if she would or would not return the marbles (she notably refrained from doing so in a recent documentry) and that really isn't the right question to ask anyway. We should be asking what was the building for? What do the figures represent? Also, when is Mary Beard's next book?
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on 12 August 2010
I loved this book straight away. It displays a thorough knowledge of the subject without being dry, dull and just plain tedious like so many others. Beard writes in an approachable and often witty way and I particularly like the way she bursts the balloon of so many pompous and seemingly unquestioning statements about the Parthenon. There are many temples in the Greek World and, although they may not be as refined as the Parthenon, many are more interesting in a variety of ways. Personally I've always preferred the early Doric ones and The Parthenon has stopped me feeling guilty about this. That said, this book is a wonderful read. It may well knock on the head many ideas you had on this subject, but I doubt you will be disappointed.
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on 17 January 2011
Reading this book is like having a private tour of this most iconic of buildings with the author as one's highly knowledgeable guide. I loved the down-to-earth, almost chatty style, which is highly readable whilst nonetheless imparting a huge amount of information. I also particularly loved the 'further reading' section included at the end of the book which manages to be suitably thorough to satisfy Classics geeks like me, whilst at the same time being accessible for anyone with a keen, but perhaps less academic, interest.

I found this book almost by accident whilst looking for the one the author has been written about Pompeii. However, it is anything but a second choice. I am a Classics graduate with a particular interest in the Partenon, and the city of Athens in the Classical period. I have also been lucky enough to go inside the current building to look at the reconstruction/restoration work, and visited the new Acropolis museum shortly after it was opened. So, I considered myself to be fairly well informed about the Parthenon, particularly during its early history. This book has helped me to better understand both the building, and the Acropolis in general, particularly in its later history.

I would highly recommend it to anyone who has been, or is planning a trip to Athens.
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on 23 January 2004
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 knowledge. It is not afraid to handle controversial issues such as the Elgin marbles but does so in a fair and even handed way. If you haven’t been to the Parthenon yet this book will make you want to go. If you have been before this book will make you want to go again and look at this iconic building in a new light. Could the writer or publisher have done it better? Well, the quality of photographs is less than we should expect in the digital age. Mary Beard’s excellent text deserves better. I look forward to reading the other volumes in the series.
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on 9 January 2016
If you are going to Athens, buy this book and read before you go to the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum. It is wonderfully readable and sets everything into context. A great companion to the experience.
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on 16 April 2016
Purchased for my husband. He has enjoyed her TV programmes and I thought he would like the book. He found it a little difficult to get into but turned out to be a good read.
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on 26 February 2013
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 might have been physically built, not even an explanation of what 'doric' signifies. While architecture does not interest her, sculpture certainly does and the conception, design and detailing of the friezes and pediments are covered in detail. All controversies since its construction are well covered too and so in a way it is more a history of an idea or icon than a book about the architecture.
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on 19 July 2010
Lively read, which narrates the sorry two and a half millennia tale of erosion and encroachment and the politics of Parthenomania in a witty and balanced fashion. Worth the money.
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