2016: XVIII

Il Partenone di Atene: nome e funzione tra certezze ed enigmi

Parole chiave

  • Parthenon,
  • Panathenaic Festivals,
  • onomastics


Abstract: For centuries, in the western tradition, the Parthenon has been celebrated as one of the most impressive and important buildings in the world. The whole history of this temple, however, is a mystery: in spite of its fame, we know very little about it. Our doubts start with a surprising lack of information concerning the monument as a whole. It is described so seldom in ancient texts that we do not even know whether it was really meant to be a temple. The word ‘temple’ is used to refer to it only once, and no traces of its altar have been found so far. Our doubts become even more founded if we consider the name of the building: Parthenón means ‘of the virgins’. This is not the title of the goddess who was worshipped in it (at least not in this form, since her title was Parthénos). Parthenón, ‘of the virgins’, has probably something to do with the ceremonies in honour of Athena, which took place during the Panathenaic Festivals. Both the archaeological evidence and the onomastics suggest that the Parthenon was more than a temple: it was the place where a select group of worshippers of the goddess were housed and the treasure of the goddess was kept. Its function should be thoroughly reconsidered on the basis of its name.