A monument of ancient Greek architecture, one of the main temples of ancient Athens, located on the Acropolis north of the Parthenon. The building dates from 421-406 years BC. e. Done in an ionic warrant. The temple is dedicated to Athena, Poseidon and the legendary Athenian king Erechtheus.
Erechtheion is a temple with a very unusual architecture in comparison with most of the ancient temples of that era. The main building of the temple is divided into unequal parts located at different levels. Compared to the main temple of the Acropolis of the Parthenon, whose architecture is simple and clear and the size is large, the Erechtheion has a very complex and intricate structure.
This temple is dedicated to several gods. The eastern part was dedicated to the main goddess of the city of Athens - Athena. This part of the temple had its own entrance. Inside on the altar was a sacred wooden sculpture, which, according to legend, fell from the sky.
This sculpture was worshiped by the inhabitants of Athens from the very foundation of the city.
In the western part of the temple were located the altars of the gods Hephaestus and Poseidon. In addition, there was Booth’s altar. Booth was the first priest of the goddess Athena and brother of King Erechtheus. In honor of this king the Temple is named.
On the north side was the main entrance to the part of the temple where all these altars were. Interestingly, this entrance was decorated in the form of a portico inside which there was a sacred source. This is the so-called source of Poseidon with salt water. It must be assumed that it was a source of mineral water.
A little lower in level from the source of water was the altar of Zeus and the grave of Erechteus.
The most interesting part of the temple is the south side. On this side of the temple is a large balcony. The main part of this balcony is a sculpture of the maidens of Caryatids.
Caryatids were priestesses of the goddess Artemis.
There is an interesting point in the book of Vitruvius:
“So, for example, if someone in his construction puts instead of columns marble statues of women in long robes, called caryatids, and places mutulas and cornices on them, then he will give the curious to the curious: the Peloponnesian city of Kariy made an alliance with Greece, the Persians, against Greece ; subsequently, the Greeks, with glory having won freedom for themselves by the victorious end of the war, with general consent declared war on the Carians. And so, having taken their city, having killed the men and devastated their state, they took their wives into slavery, while not allowing them to take off their long clothes or other clothes of married women, not only to spend them once in a triumphal procession but that they, serving as a hard example of slavery, covered in eternal shame, clearly paid for the crime of their fellow citizens. For the sake of this, the then architects used the sculptures of these women for public buildings, placing them to bear the burden, so that the offspring remembered the punishment of the Carians. ”
There are many legends about Caryatids. Some say that they symbolize the virgins captured in battle in the V century. Some archaeologists believe that they were the daughters of King Kekrops (the first king of Attica), who is buried under the temple.
In general, the name Caryatids may derive from the Greek word "head". Since the captives carried punishment on their heads, the severity of the basket with ransom and gifts.
After the times of antiquity, caryatids were not used, but were again used in architecture of the Renaissance and beyond. By the way, male figures who performed the function of caryatids in architecture are called anantes or telamons.
Interestingly, these stone women have one leg straight and the other bent at the knee. Corner caryatids have a straight leg on the outside of the balcony, thus creating a feeling of evenness and completeness of form.
There were six caryatids in total.
Skillfully made copies are in the fresh air in the Erechtheion Temple itself.
Now the original statues are in the Museum of the Acropolis of Athens. True, there are only five of the six statues. One is in London. Lord Elgin brought a lot of artifacts from Greece, including one of the statues of Caryatids.
The struggle for the return of Greek artifacts continues to this day. In 2009, a new Acropolis Museum was opened in Athens. This event put an end to disputes about the preservation of cultural heritage sites. But the British authorities still reject requests for the return of artifacts.
I hope that in the future a decision on the return will be made and the caryatids will unite under the sky of Greece.
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