90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Secrets Of The Parthenon Present A Gripping ‘Enigma’

We go back to the future with a new look at the Parthenon of Ancient Greece, Athens, and the foundations of democracy.

A tourist walks in front of the ancient Parthenon temple at the Acropolis hill Athens, on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013. (AP)

A tourist walks in front of the ancient Parthenon temple at the Acropolis hill Athens, on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013. (AP)

Picture the Parthenon – on the Acropolis, rising stunningly in white marble above Athens in Greece – and for centuries now people have seen the open, august architecture of democracy.  The clean columns and potent symmetry of reason and an ideal of Western civilization.  We’ve copied it all over in pillared post offices and public buildings, suggesting an ancient root and endorsement of American democracy.  A deep, new reading of the splendor of the Parthenon says we may not fully understand what we’re embracing.  This hour On Point:  the full meaning of a powerful icon – the Parthenon.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Joan Breton Connelly, professor of classics and art history at New York University. Author of “The Parthenon Enigma: A New Understanding of the World’s Most Iconic Buildling And The People Who Made It.” Also author of “Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece.”

William St. Clair, senior research fellow at the Institute of English Studies at the School of Advanced Study, the University of London. Author of “Lord Elgin and the Marbles: The Controversial History of the Parthenon Sculptures.”

From Tom’s Reading List

American Journal of Archeology: The Parthenon Frieze – “The traditional interpretation, identifying the frieze as the Panathenaic procession, goes back to the eighteenth century travelers Stuart & Revett. It has two main points of vulnerability. First, some items are missing which would be expected: e.g. kanephoroi (women carrying reed baskets), allies shown as tribute bearers, hoplites, the sacred trireme. Second, the violation of convention (having a contemporary scene where there should be a mythological one) would be severe and anomalous. Some scholars have met these objections by supposing that we have an “original” Panathenaia retrojected into mythic time.”

Metropolis Magazine: The Top Architecture and Design Books of 2013 — “The Greek temple has held architects in thrall for centuries, and each generation, from Andrea Palladio to Le Corbusier, seems to find new reasons to deem it one of the best structures ever built by a highly rational civilization. Not so much, the historian Joan Breton Connelly says. Uncovering legends of serpent kings and rituals of child sacrifice, this gripping book offers a new understanding of the Parthenon and the Greeks who built it.”

New York Times: New Analysis of the Parthenon’s Frieze Finds It Depicts a Horrifying Legend — “Now the discovery of fragments of a lost play by Euripides, found on papyrus in the wrapping of an Egyptian mummy, and the diligent research of an American archeologist have produced a much different explanation. The scenes of the frieze do not depict a fifth-century procession, according to the new thesis, but instead evoke the Athenian founding myth of a king’s precious sacrifice to save his city from defeat.”

Read An Excerpt of “The Parthenon Enigma” By Joan Breton Connelly

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Oct 22, 2014
Health workers carry the body of a woman suspected of contracting the Ebola virus in Bomi county situated on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia, Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. (AP)

We’ll go to Liberia, and hear from a pastor and a physician at the epicenter of the Ebola crisis.

Oct 22, 2014
Authors Nicholas Kristof and wife Sheryl WuDunn attend the premiere of "Meena" at the AMC Loews Theater on Thursday, June 26, 2014 in New York.

Author and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof says regular folks like us can change the world. He explains how. Plus: we remember the late, great Washington Post editor, Ben Bradlee.

RECENT
SHOWS
Oct 21, 2014
This undated image provided by Google, shows an early version of Google's prototype self-driving car. For the first time, California's Department of Motor Vehicles knows how many self-driving cars are traveling on the state's public roads. The agency is issuing permits, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014 that let three companies test 29 vehicles on highways and in neighborhoods. (AP)

The future of the car: from the fuels they’ll run on, to the materials they’ll be made of, to the computers that may drive them.

 
Oct 21, 2014
David Perdue, Michelle Nunn

Two weeks to go till Midterm Election Day. We’ll look at how the biggest issues are playing out around the country.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Introducing The Explicast: A New Podcast From On Point Radio
Friday, Oct 17, 2014

Confused about the news? Don’t worry: so are we sometimes! Introducing a new On Point Radio podcast: The Explicast. You can find Episode One right here.

More »
1 Comment
 
Two LIVE Tracks From Jazz Violinist Regina Carter
Friday, Oct 17, 2014

Regina Carter shares two live tracks — one arrangement, and one original composition — with Tom Ashbrook in the On Point studio.

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: October 17, 2014
Friday, Oct 17, 2014

We talk Facebook mishaps, whether Katy Perry was actually right and the glory of architectural giants and their iconic windows.

More »
Comment