The Temples and Gods of Athens
And now to ascend the Acropolis. We leave the discussion of the details of the temples and the sculpture to the architects and archæologists. The whole plateau of the Rock is covered with religious buildings, altars, and statues. We pass through the Propylæa, the worthy rival of the Parthenon behind, a magnificent portal, with six splendid Doric columns facing us; and as we go through them, to right and to left open out equally magnificent columned porticoes. As we emerge from the Propylæa the whole vision of the sacred plateau bursts upon us simultaneously. We can notice only the most important of the buildings. At the southwestern point of the Acropolis on the angle of rock which juts out beyond the Propylæa is the graceful little temple of the "Wingless Victory," built in the Ionic style. The view commanded by its bastion will become famous throughout the world. Behind this, nearer the southern side, stands the less important temple of Artemis Braurönia. Nearer the center and directly before the entrance rises a colossal brazen statue—"monstrous," many might call its twenty-six feet of height, save that a master among masters has cast the spell of his genius over it. This is the famous Athena Promachos, wrought by Phidias out of the spoils of Marathon. The warrior goddess stands in full armor and rests upon her mighty lance. The gilded lance tip gleams so dazzlingly we may well believe the tale that sailors use it for a first landmark as they sail up the coast from Cape Sunium.
Looking again upon the complex of buildings we single out another on the northern side: an irregularly shaped temple, or rather several temples joined together, the Erechtheum, wherein is the sanctuary of Athena Polias (the revered "City Warden"), the ancient wooden statue, grotesque, beloved, most sacred of all the holy images in Athens. And here on the southern side of this building is the famous Caryatid porch; the "Porch of the Maidens," which will be admired as long as Athens has a name. But our eyes refuse to linger long on any of these things. Behind the statue of the Promachos, a little to the southern side of the plateau, stands the Parthenon—the queen jewel upon the crown of Athens.
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