25-11-16 The Parthenon of Nashville

Friday 25th November 2016

A good friend from Wyoming wrote me to suggest we go downtown and spend a morning walking about Nashville’s homage to all things Classical Greek – The Parthenon. Granna and Paw-Paw were keen, as they hadn’t been to Centennial Park, where the replica building is situated, for over twenty years. Erroll too was happy to visit as he fondly recalls getting burgers on Broadway, only down the road, back when he was living in Nashville as a teenager. Greet thing about the Park, I was also told, is that a wee stream snakes about it and many sweet ducks and geese make it their home. Plus there are acres of grass on which Kingsley will doubtless roam free.

When we arrived all of us were happily surprised – there it was the life-size replica of Athens’ Parthenon of the Acropolis complete Doric columns, portico and friezes of the Greek gods of Mount Olympus. Never mind the entire structure is made of concrete, not of Athenian marble; its Doric columns still able to gracefully illustrate how ancient architecture can bring balance and proportion to a building. Kingsley was merely pleased to be out of his car seat, and chasing the (Greek) ducks. He followed this with climbing up then jumping down the deep steps which lead to the Parthenon interior. [Later the boy will thank us for the history lesson by insisting we go play at the (admittedly excellent) playground then poop his nappy, no doubt from being overwhelmed at having so much variety to play on. I in turn thank the local counsel for installing ‘parent change rooms’ on site ahd my wn forethought in packing wipes, nappies, the bloody lot.]

The original Parthenon was part of an ambitious building campaign on the Acropolis that began around 450 b.c. A generation before, the Athenians, as part of an alliance of Greek city-states, had led heroic victories against Persian invaders. This alliance would evolve into a de facto empire under Athenian rule, and some 150 to 200 cities across the Aegean began paying Athens huge sums of what amounted to protection money. Basking in glory, the Athenians planned their new temple complex on a lavish, unprecedented scale—with the Parthenon as the centerpiece. Directed by the Athenian statesman Pericles, the Parthenon was built by the architects Ictinus and Callicrates under the supervision of the sculptor Phidias.

Ok so that’s the story of the real Parthenon. But why is this one built in Nashville?…