Becoming Good Democrats and Wives

Civic Education and Female Socialization on the Parthenon Frieze

By Burkhard Fehr

In this study, the analysis of the Parthenon frieze is based on the assumption that the pictorial narrative scenes of the Classical period were conceived with the intention of exemplifying comprehensive patterns of action which were related to ethical values and social status. In this way, it can be shown that - on the west, north, and south side of the frieze - the pictorial narration in several "chapters" demonstrates how the young male Athenians become qualified members of the citizenry, through a multi-stage process of civic education carried out by the democratic polis. The stages of female socialization are visualized on the east side, the goal being the status and responsibilities of a married woman who raises and educates her offspring in an Athenian oikos, as represented in the central scene of the east frieze. The messages of the other Parthenon sculptures, as well as of the colossal statue of Athena in the center of this sacred building, are closely related to this frame of reference. One could claim that the pictorial narrative of the Parthenon frieze is the first comprehensive discourse on democracy. (Series: Hephaistos. Kritische Zeitschrift zu Theorie und Praxis der Archaologie und angrenzender Gebiete)


200 pages

Publication Date: 8/31/2011
Format: Cloth
ISBN: 9783643999009