"The Sculptures of the Parthenon" by Margaretha Rossholm        Lagerlöf

The Sculptures of the Parthenon Aesthetics and Interpretation Margaretha Rossholm Lagerlöf

Publication date:
11 Jan 2000
Yale University Press
212 pages: 210 x 149mm
51 b-w + 6 color illus.


This generously illustrated book provides a complete overview of current knowledge about the sculptures of the Parthenon and suggests new interpretations of the ancient temple's sculptural creations.  Margaretha Lagerlöf steps back from viewing the fragments of the sculptures that remain today to focus more clearly on their meanings in the light of classical Athenian knowledge and society.  She considers what the sculptures reveal about the Greek sense of democracy and how they characterize women's lives in a warrior culture.  Using Plato's philosophy and the visually oriented similes of his myths, Lagerlöf offers a new decoding of the aesthetic structure of the Parthenon's entire sculptural ensemble.

The book compares the sculptures of the pediments to those of the metopes and the frieze, uncovering subtle differences in both the nature and the content of their images.  Whereas the pediments represent divine elements, for example, the frieze is seen as the domain of human beings, representing events and also the stage of history when humans no longer have direct access to the presence of the gods.  The frieze can be interpreted as an invocation of this presence, a means of regaining closeness with the gods.  Using a multifaceted and imaginative approach to the sculptures of the Parthenon, Lagerlöf finds powerful new meaning in them as well as an enhanced appreciation of their Athenian creators. 

Margaretha Lagerlöf is professor of art history at Stockholm University.  She is the author of Ideal Landscapes, published by Yale University Press. 

"Through the difficulties of making ancient Greek Classical art understandable, Lagerl”f strides on presumptions of minimalism, feminism, post-structuralism, and existentialism. . . . Academics and Hellenophiles who relish a chance to meditate on the extraordinary beauty of these works will be caught up by her mind: whether they are aggravated or pleased, many will be stimulated to rethink conclusions on this seminal ancient art period."?Choice