A radical new interpretation of the meaning and purposes of one of the world's most iconic buildings.
For more than two millennia, the Parthenon has been revered as the symbol of Western culture and its highest ideals. It was understood to honour the city-state's patron deity, Athena, and its sculptures to depict a civic celebration in the birthplace of democracy.
But through a close reading of a lost play by Euripides, Joan Connelly has developed a theory that has sparked fierce controversy. Here she explains that our most basic sense of the Parthenon and the culture that built it may have been crucially mistaken. Re-creating the ancient structure, and using a breathtaking range of textual and visual evidence, she uncovers a monument glorifying human sacrifice set in a world of cult ritual quite alien to our understanding of the word 'Athenian'.
Joan Breton Connelly is Professor of Classics at New York University. She has held visiting fellowships at All Souls and New College, Oxford, at Harvard University and at Princeton. She is the author of Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece.