THE UNSOLVED ICONOGRAPHY OF THE PARTHENON FRIEZE
Hilary Hope Guise, professor of art history, Florida State University, lecturer and artist
The Parthenon frieze was originally an afterthought, an Ionic frieze added to an emphatically Doric temple. It seems to represent a procession, but which procession and where was it going? The academic consensus is that it represents the greater Panathenaic procession up to the Acropolis on Athena’s birthday; Boardman, however, asserts that the Panathenaia never arrived at the Parthenon. Why are nearly 175 famous horses pounding along on the frieze when there were no horses in the actual Panathenaic procession? Is the child at the centre of the frieze a male temple slave? Or perhaps a princess about to have her throat slit by her own father as a human sacrifice? Why are the famous armed warriors that led the real procession nowhere to be seen? This course will explore the mysteries of the frieze, seeking different solutions to issues of gender fluidity, initiation and life and death.
1. Gender fluidity on the Parthenon frieze: is it a boy or a girl?
2. The horned hand: a matter of life and death?