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Response to Jeffrey M. Hurwitt Lecture: “Uses of Past on the Acropolis.”
Jeffrey M. Hurwitt
PHilip H. Knight Professor of Art History and Classics
University of Oregon
I heard a great lecture on the Athenian Acropolis, and this was my reaction to it, enjoy!…
490 BCE and the Battle of Marathon was a major turning point for the Greeks in Athens. Jeffrey Hurwitt’s opinion on the Acropolis at Athens revolves heavily around this battle, as he believes that the Athenians’ reaction to their supposed victory was the reason they wove elements of the past into the rebuilding of the Acropolis after the sacking and destruction occurred. I agree with Hurwitt’s ideas that the way they assimilated old with new portrayed that the Greeks embrace their past and want to reuse items from it to show it off. Instead of rebuilding a completely new Acropolis, they incorporated major landmarks into their new building, keeping them in the public eye. Examples from Hurwitt’s lecture argue how important the past was to the Greeks; for example, the mix-matched composition of the fortification wall is a good example of how they left sections of the past out on public display so that we could remember the history in the site. An irregular opening in the Tower of Nike gives the viewer and inside look into what it was before reconstruction, and how the Mycenians had set up the defense system. The Parthanon itself is built on top of rubble from the older Parthanon and there is a shrine present inside that has lasted the rebuilding, showing how people used to view their religious sites and strongholds. Hurwitt, in my opinion, is right in thinking that these incorporations of the past during reconstruction were a conscious decision by the Greeks so that the entire site could be used as a monument. People can go to the site and see the layers of the past from the infamous Battle of Marathon to the sacking, and then cycling back to order again. It is this reason that I think the Acropolis appears so timeless, because the makeup of it is time itself.
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