Two thousand and nearly four hundred years ago a supreme masterpiece was planned--the temple of Athena Parthenos on the citadel rock, the Acropolis of ancient Athens.
The noble Pericles, chief magistrate of the city, great alike in war and peace, pupil of renowned philosophers, whose words were as thunder and lightning, who was called, like Zeus himself, Olympian, commanded that it should stand on the site of that former temple of Athena which the invading Persians had destroyed.
Ictinos, renowned also for his temple of Apollo at Phigaleia, was the chosen architect. Pheidias, distinguished even above the great Polycleitos as the sculptor of gods rather than of men, rose to the height of his powers in its adornment.
Of that statue he made of the Athenians' patron goddess, daughter of Zeus, the many-named Athena, who is sometimes called Minerva, who was known as Parthenos because of her virginity, there remains only a small copy--or 'souvenir'--but the original towered, superb and immense in the temple interior, forty feet, plated in ivory and gold. The more than human composure of the features, the eyes of lapis and the golden hair of the proud being, goddess of war who yet created the olive, symbol of peace, who held in one hand the image of Victory and rested the other on a mighty shield, carved with scenes of battle against giants and Amazons, filled beholders with awe.
Many a sculptor whose name is unknown worked with Pheidias and to his plans, but it seemed that the spirit of genius was upon . . .