Athens: Sites and Monuments and The Periklean Building Program

Summary: You will be using Perseus to examine the sites and monuments of classical Athens, focusing particularly on the buildings on the Akropolis commissioned by Perikles in the mid 5th century BC. We will also be looking at the sculpture of the period, especially the works of Pheidias and his school which decorated the Parthenon.

Objectives: (1) to become comfortable using Perseus as a research and learning tool (2) to become familiar with the basic monuments of Athens (and to be able to identify them on plans and in photos) (3) to learn about the Athenian buildings and sculpture of the High Classical period, and our sources of information about it.


Perseus is available from the Macintoshes in the ILRC (IRV 60) and the CAS lab (Upham 163). To become more familiar with its contents and how to use it, you might want to have a look at one of the "paths" that come with the program. To use a path, click on the "Paths" icon on the Gateway. This will take you to the Path Index. To choose one, highlight it and click on 'Follow Path' (or just double click it). The Novice tour and the Art and Archaeology tour are both useful for beginners.

NOTE: Perseus only wants SINGLE CLICKS!! Even though you're used to double-clicking, try to avoid it, since this tends to lock up the computer (because you've issued too many commands). IF the screen does freeze, hold down the Apple key and type a period to unfreeze it.

To Start up Perseus, launch the Perseus Player. This can be found in the folder Local Stacks in the CAS lab, and from the CLS101/ART 382 customized menu in the ILRC.

The first thing you should see is the Gateway, whence you can access all the resources in Perseus.

The other thing you will see is the Navigator strip, which helps you to move around in Perseus. IF YOU LOOSE THIS, IT CAN BE FOUND AS THE FIRST ITEM UNDER THE PERSEUS PULL-DOWN MENU. The navigator bar includes, among other things:

(a) the central temple icon -- this takes you to the Gateway
(b) the bent arrow -- this retraces your steps through Perseus and
(c) the question mark -- this takes you to the help documentation for whatever stack or card you're looking at it (not all stacks have help, but many do).


1. For sites and monuments of Athens, start at the Site catalogue of Athens and the plans there. To get there, either pull down Sites from the Links menu OR click on Art and Arch. in the Gateway, then All Sites (under Sites) from the A&A Index. From the Sites Index, choose Athens. Now you're at the site catalogue card for Athens. From here you can click on "Description" to read more about the site (then on "Summary" to get back to the site catalogue card), get some basic information about the site, AND you have 342 plans and photos to choose from! Clicking on any of these will pull up that image.

The plans -- from the "Plan of the ancient city (large)" you will note that some areas become darkened as you scroll over them. Clicking on one of the dark areas will take you to the large site plan for that particular section of the city (e.g. the Agora).

A VERY COOL feature of the large site plans (for Akropolis and Agora and large plan of Athens) are the Image buttons. Choose "Show Image Buttons" from the Plan Menu, and you'll see some triangular buttons appear on the plan. Clicking on one will show you what the site looks like when viewed from that vantage point facing in the direction of the arrow.

ANOTHER COOL feature of the large plans of the Agora and Akropolis is building identification. Click on the building to find out what it is, AND have the opportunity to go to the plan or architecture catalogue for that bulding (or just click cancel if ID is all you wanted).

2. For the Periklean Building Program, start with the brief introduction to the Periklean Building Program in the Historical Overview (this is on the Gateway). scroll down in the index until you get to 9. Athenian Empire in the Golden Age, then to 9.4. Click to go there. On this page you will see some links to primary sources -- click on the underlined text and hold to see the choices. You should investigate each of these, beginning with the texts. When reading these texts, remember to use the arrow key on your keyboard OR on the navigator to "turn the page".

3. Questions about Athens in general (mostly review) and the Periklean building program:

  1. You should be able to identify (a) the Agora (b) the Pnyx (c) the Akropolis (d) the theater of Dionysos on a plan of Athens. You should also know the use and function of each of these (see site and architecture catalogues and descriptions) - often the type of building located there will provide clues.
  2. Also be able to identify on a plan and from photos the major monuments on the Akropolis: Parthenon, Proypylaia, Nike Temple, Erechtheion. What other monuments and shrines stood on the Akropolis?
  3. What are our sources for the Periklean building program? (Just list -- for textual sources, also find out the date of the authors/works.)
  4. What were the attitudes of the Athenians AND the Allies towards the Program. How does Perikles justify it? Do you agree with his justification?
  5. What specific buildings did Perikles commission (i.e. what WERE the buildings included in his program) and where in Athens did they stand?
  6. Describe each building, including its architectural plan and its sculptural decoration (where applicable). For the sculpture, you should (a) know the myths or scenes depicted and where they were on the building and (b) be able to identify the better-preserved pieces.
  7. In what ways were these building especially noteworthy or magnificent by contemporary standards?

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Revised: 25 March 1996, SB