The Parthenon Sculptures: Decoding Images of Ancient Myths

In this lecture, Joan Breton Connelly, former Member (2010–11) in the School of Historical Studies, discusses how the Parthenon sculptures conveyed genealogical myths that answered for the Athenians the most basic human questions. Connelly explores how the cosmic and epic narratives, and the great boundary catastrophes of war and deluge, established frameworks for understanding the distant past. Connelly also demonstrates how the projection of these myths upon the great “billboards” of the Acropolis temples perpetuated a shared understanding of Athenian identity and educated young Athenians in the values upon which their democracy was based, chief among them, a willingness to sacrifice self-interest for the common good.