The Porch of the Caryatids
- What are your first thoughts when you see this photo?
- Is this a connection between this ancient monument and today’s view of women in society?
- Is there something missing?
Cultural Heritage Background
The Caryatids are sculptures of women that are used as architectural supports. They take the place of a column or pillar and hold an entablature on their heads.
The word “karyatides” in Greek means “girls from Karyai”, an old town in the Peloponnese. As punishment for helping the Persians, the women of Karyai were enslaved. Still, they kept their clothes and accessories. Greek architects depicted them as if holding up buildings to remember the event.
The six Caryatids on the Athenian acropolis are the most well-known. Between 421 and 406 BCE, this building was built as part of a big plan by Pericles to improve the city’s architecture. The Erechtheion was built to hold the old wooden statue of Athena that was a part of her cult. It was also the centre of worship for a mythical king of Athens named Erechtheus.
The Caryatids’ clothes stick to their bodies (called the “wet look”). Their hips and legs are bold and seem active. Both of these qualities would become important parts of Classical sculpture. Even though each Caryatid wears the same robe, each is made differently. The way their hair is braided is a good example of the variety between them.
The figures’ arms have been lost. Roman copies show them holding shallow vessels for pouring liquids in their right hands. At the same time, they hold their robes up with their left hands. Scholars think different artists carved them.
Listen to the audio fragment and answer the following questions
Guidelines: You can adapt this exercise based on your audience’s needs. For example:
If you teach deaf learners, you can show the video with subtitles.
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Reading the story
The Acropolis of Athens is the most striking and complete ancient Greek monumental complex that still exists. It is situated on a hill of average height (156m) that rises in the basin of Athens. Its dimensions are approximately 170m by 350m. The hill is rocky and steep on all sides except the western side and has an extensive, flat top. Strong walls have surrounded the summit of the Acropolis for more than 3,300 years.
In the 5th century BC, the Athenians carried out an ambitious building programme. Empowered by their victory over the Persians, they built many monuments. These included the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, the Propylaia, and the temple of Athena. The monuments were developed by exceptional architects and sculptors. They transformed the rocky hill into a unique complex.
On this hill were born Democracy, Philosophy, Theatre, and Freedom of Expression and Speech. They provide the intellectual basis of the modern world and its values. The Acropolis’ monuments have survived for almost twenty-five centuries. They have been through wars, explosions, bombardments, fires, earthquakes, interventions and alterations. They have adapted to different uses. They have also adapted to the civilizations, myths, and religions that flourished in Greece through time.
The perfection of ancient building techniques ensured the strength and durability of the monuments. Despite the unavoidable damage of natural forces and time, they still display their beauty. They communicate their enormous artistic and historic value. However, between the 5th century BCE and our times, extensive damage has been caused. That is being addressed with the ongoing restoration and conservation works. They increase both the stability and the appearance of the monuments.
The authenticity of the Acropolis hill is well preserved. Only interventions which are necessary and respect the ancient structural system are allowed now. The techniques and tools used for restoration are like those of the ancient craftspeople. The white marble used is even quarried from the same mountain as in antiquity (Mt. Penteli). Thus, the restorations fit perfectly with the original parts of the monuments.
Are you familiar with the distinction between the phrases “I used to drive on the left” and “I’m used to driving on the left”?
Although the “used to” + infinitive and “be/get used to” + -ing have a similar appearance, their functions are totally different.
used to + infinitive
When discussing something in the past that no longer happens, we use “used to” + infinitive. It reveals to us that a repeated action has ended.
I used to have trouble sleeping, but once I started practising yoga, I started getting better sleep.
be used to and get used to
Be used to means ‘be familiar with’ or ‘be accustomed to’.
She’s the boss and she’s used to getting what she wants.
I am used to the city now and don’t get lost any more.
We use “get used to” to talk about the process of becoming familiar with something.
It took my mother years to get used to living in London after moving from Pakistan.
I’m getting used to the noise now. I found it really stressful when I first moved in.
“Be used to” and “get used to” are followed by a noun, pronoun, or the “-ing” form of a verb and can be used about the past, present, or future.