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The Parthenon's special architecture

The Parthenon was special in its great size and elaborate decoration. Constructed from 20,000 tons of Attic marble, it stretched nearly 230 feet in length and a hundred feet wide, with eight columns1 across the ends instead of the six normally employed in Doric style, and seventeen instead of thirteen along the sides. These dimensions gave it a massive look conveying an impression of power. Since perfectly rectilinear architecture appears curved to the human eye, the Parthenon's architects ingeniously designed subtle curves and inclines in its architecture to produce an optical illusion of completely straight lines: the columns were given a slight bulge in their middles; the corner columns on the corners of the temple's raised platform were installed at a slight incline and closer together; the platform itself was made slightly convex. These technical refinements made the Parthenon appear ordered and regular in a way a building built entirely on straight lines would not. By overcoming the distortions of nature, the Parthenon's sophisticated architecture made a confident statement about human ability to construct order out of the entropic disorder of the natural world.

1 Athens, Parthenon [Building]

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