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The Parthenon

The Parthenon

Revised Edition

Mary Beard

ISBN 9780674055636

Publication date: 06/30/2010

“Wry and imaginative, this gem of a book deconstructs the most famous building in Western history.”
—Benjamin Schwarz, The Atlantic

“In her brief but compendious volume [Beard] says that the more we find out about this mysterious structure, the less we know. Her book is especially valuable because it is up to date on the restoration the Parthenon has been undergoing since 1986.”
—Gary Wills, New York Review of Books

At once an entrancing cultural history and a congenial guide for tourists, armchair travelers, and amateur archaeologists alike, this book conducts readers through the storied past and towering presence of the most famous building in the world. In the revised version of her classic study, Mary Beard now includes the story of the long-awaited new museum opened in 2009 to display the sculptures from the building that still remain in Greece, as well as the controversies that have surrounded it, and asks whether it makes a difference to the “Elgin Marble debate.”


  • Wry and imaginative, this gem of a book deconstructs the most famous building in Western history. Beard, probably Britain’s best-known classicist, elucidates…the history of the ancient building, the functions—church, mosque, barracks, ammunition dump—it has served since antiquity, and the place it has held in the European imagination in the modern era. With éclat she dashes most of what we think we know about the ancient Greeks’ building… Beard reveals just how alien…the classical Greeks are to us, and just how little we know about them.

    —Benjamin Schwarz, The Atlantic


  • Mary Beard has a Chair of Classics at Cambridge and is a Fellow of Newnham College. She is classics editor of The Times Literary Supplement and author of the blog “A Don’s Life.” She is also a winner of the 2008 Wolfson History Prize.

Book Details

  • 240 pages
  • 4-1/2 x 7-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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