Medea & Other Friends I Made in Athens (Part 5)

5 September 2022. Part 3: The New Acropolis Museum.

It was a short walk from the exit of the South Slope of the Acropolis to the new Acropolis Museum. One of the neat things about this museum is the exposed archaeological excavation that is located beneath the site and displayed so gracefully with a combination of light wells and glass floors. There was a LONG line to get in the main entrance to purchase tickets. However, the line for existing ticket holders was essentially nonexistent, so the boys went online and bought tickets for all of us, and we cruised right in. After a bit of confusion, we managed to find the Acropolis Museum Cafe and Restaurant, took a table on the outside terrace, and ordered lunch. It was nice to take a breather.

The food was good and the view divine. But don’t take our word for it. Ask the pigeons that picked over every unbussed table, and some of the occupied ones.
Acropolis and South Slope. As views go, this is pretty darn good. I’d love to see it at night with the new Acropolis lighting.

For those who haven’t seen it yet, the new Acropolis Museum is absolutely stunning in its both design and how it displays its extensive collection of artifacts. The remaining original pieces of the Parthenon metopes and pediment friezes, and plaster casts of the pieces which are located elsewhere (*cough* British Museum), are shown in continuous bands and groupings. The artistic mastery on display in their ruined state can only leave the viewer dumbfounded by what they must have been like when new. Greece has now demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that it has the ability to both protect and properly exhibit its ancient heritage.

Banner outside the museum celebrating the return of a piece of the Parthenon reliefs from Sicily. Greece is serious about the repatriation of its heritage. And rightly so.
Reconstruction of the sculptural elements of the west pediment of the Parthenon.
Reconstruction of the sculptural elements of the east pediment of the Parthenon.
Left hand of Zeus holding a lightning bolt from the sculptural elements on the east pediment of the Parthenon.
Reconstruction of one of the two akroteria that surmounted the peak at either end of the Parthenon roof.
Marble antefix from the roof of the Parthenon. The roof of the temple was intact until a Venetian shell set off the explosives stored inside by the Ottomans.

The photos below provide a photographic overview of the Parthenon metopes. The plaster casts of the “missing” pieces are white. Elgin didn’t just take sculptural elements from the Parthenon. He also robbed elements of the Propylaia and the Erechtheion. They really should ALL be returned.

West pediment of the archaic period temple of Athena Parthenos (also called the Hekatompedon). It predated the current Parthenon.
The other side of the west pediment of the Hekatompedon. This may represent the Titan Typhon or Nereus. Very little of the temple rubble has survived.
Panathenaic amphora featuring the Goddess Athena that was once filled with oil and given as a prize to the victor of contests held during the festival of the Greater Panathenaia.
Bronze sculpture of a Gorgon from the pediment of the first temple of Athena, known from Homer as the “House of Erechthios and Athena” on the Acropolis (ca. 8th-7th century BCE).
Bust of a High Priest.
Bust of Hermes.

This museum is just so beautiful.

Obverse of the Panathenaic amphora, on loan from the Royal Ontario Museum.
Marble lion downspout from the Parthenon roof. This was long before he starred in The NeverEnding Story.
Statue base depicting warriors conducting a Pyrrhichios (πυρρίχιος), or Pyrrhic Dance. I think that if the directors of 300 had “dressed” the Spartans like this, they’d have made a lot more at the box.

In addition to imagery associated with the Goddess Athena, there are also sculptural elements on display that depict others of the Dodekatheon, including Dionysos.

Plaster cast of Dionysos from the east pediment of the Parthenon. People can’t seem to resist touching His left knee. I can understand, given how often He’s reached out and touched me. The original sculpture remains in place on the Parthenon (see below).
Original sculpture of Dionysos on the east pediment of the Parthenon.
Sculptural elements of the Gigantomachy. Dionysos and a panther kill a Gigante, probably Eurytus, in the right-hand sculpture.
Mask of Dionysos from the Sanctuary of Dionysos Eleutherios.
The so-called “Pensive Athena,” one of the most famous carvings of Athena held by the Acropolis Museum.
A sculptural grouping of theatrical masks depicting Silens from the Sanctuary of Dionysos Eleutherios.

Satyrs have horns, and Silens long ears. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking with it.

Sculpture of a Silen, probably Seilenos.

I would like to have gotten many more photos. Unfortunately, some really nice stuff was located in areas where photography was prohibited. And this also turned out to be a day that the museum closed early. Everyone was cleared from the building in an orderly, if disgruntled, fashion. This truly sucked because we had really been looking forward to checking out the gift shop on our way out, as it looked like it had some awesome things. I guess we have to save something for the next trip. Sigh. So, we all walked back out to the street, turned left, and headed west and north. Next up, the ancient Greek Agora.

Read this article if you would like to visit the Acropolis Museum virtually with the help of GoogleEarth.

“Mortal!” -twas thus she spake- “that blush of shame
Proclaims thee Briton, once a noble name;
First of the mighty, foremost of the free,
Now honourd less by all, and least by me;
Chief of thy foes shall Pallas still be found.
Seekst thou the cause of loathing? -look around.
Lo! here, despite of war and wasting fire,
I saw successive tyrannies expire.
Scaped from the ravage of the Turk and Goth,
Thy country sends a spoiler worse than both.
Survey this vacant, violated fane;
Recount the relics torn that yet remain:
These Cecrops placed, this Pericles adornd,
That Adrian reard when drooping Science mournd.
What more I owe let gratitude attest-
Know, Alaric and Elgin did the rest.
That all may learn from whence the plunderer came,
The insulted wall sustains his hated name:

Fragment from ‘The Curse of Minerva’ by Lord Byron, 1811

A December 2022 update on Parthenon elements being returned to Greece – Vatican edition.

— Να εχεις μια ωραια μερα. —

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