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The Parthenon and the Pantheon are temples built by ancient peoples are alike in so many ways but dissimilar in others. Both were built to honor the Gods of their builders. The Parthenon built by the Greeks in Athens and the Pantheon in Rome built by the Romans. On first looking at the buildings, the Parthenon is rectangular and the Pantheon primarily circular. The Parthenon is built of white marble blocks; the Pantheon is built of concrete and was only faced in marble.
Concrete was a Roman invention and came after the Greek civilization. Both structures were built to honor Gods. The Greek structure was built to honor Athena, patron of Athens, Athena Parthenos; the Roman structure was built to honor all the Gods in their pantheon of deities. Both structures were lighted by only natural light of the sun. The Parthenon was illuminated only by light coming in through the open doors at the front of the temple. The Pantheon was lighted by illumination coming in through a circular opening in the ceiling called the oculus.
The Parthenon in Athens was built according to the Doric order. The Pantheon was built to the Corinthian order. The three orders being Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. Doric is the most simple or the types and Corinthian the most ornate. It is said that one can tell plain to fancy by the syllables. Doric having one syllable, Ionic two and Corinthian three.
Roman architecture coming after the Greek, it is generally acknowledged that the Roman architecture was derived from the Greek as were most of the Roman Gods, but they refined and added to both to get them Roman.
As for the architectural elements of the buildings, the Parthenon is basically a rectangle with slab on column architecture. The Pantheon, a Greek word meaning “all the Gods”, by the way, is a product of Roman advanced architecture with the arch (a Roman invention) made into a dome (essentially an arch completely turned round on its central axis). The front is a barrel vault (an arch, repeated endlessly on the central axis), attached to the dome. Both structures have columns, but on both structures they are plain. The Doric column is a round plain shaft, but on the Pantheon they are plain by choice. The ordinary Corinthian column most often being fluted. Another distinctive feature of the Pantheon is the dome. An invention of the much later Romans is heavier at the base. The dome is made of cement wider and heavier at the base with progressive thinness graduating toward the top.
Both structures have had multiple uses since its completion. Both have been reported being built for worship. That factor has been debated for centuries. The Parthenon could have been a treasury. With each succeeding conquering entity, the use of the building changed. As with the Parthenon, the Pantheon uses have changed. Most notably, from pagan temple to Catholic church.
Although both buildings are from the Classical period, both buildings survived into the 20th century. The Pantheon being built of concrete and so fireproof, survived in better condition. Both structures in their time were used as marble quarries for the conquering entity of the time. Sculpture was taken from both also. Enough remains of the structures with descriptions of each through all their existence, to give a picture of them the moment completion was finished. Enough remains of each, to give a picture of how magnificent they looked in their time, to the people that conceived and built them.
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