Meeting Athena in Nashville?

One of the most impressive architectural structures I have had the privilege of visiting is the Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee. The Parthenon is the world’s only full-scale replica of the famous temple to the goddess Athena in Athens, Greece. Located in Centennial Park, the Parthenon’s impressive size immediately commands attention.

Besides it’s size, what also impressed me was the history behind the building. It was first built in 1897 as part of the centennial celebration of Tennessee as a state. With Nashville’s emphasis on education earning it the nickname “The Athens of the South” the structure seemed more than fitting as the centerpiece for the celebration. Because the building was so popular, the city decided to leave it in place after the centennial. In 1920,  the city set out to reconstruct this historic building because of decaying plaster and pediments, and on May 21, 1931 the Parthenon reopened to the public.

Standing at an amazing 41′ 10″ tall from the floor to the top of the crest in her helmet Athena easily towers over everything. To give even more perspective, Nike, who is standing on Athena’s hand is 6′ 4″ tall.

In Greek Mythology, Athena is the goddess of wisdom and the useful arts, and the protector of cities. Her title, Athena Parthenos, refers to her status as a maiden goddess; the name for the Parthenon is derived from this epithet and translates into English as “The House of the Maiden”. Born from the head of Zeus, the King of the Gods, Athena inherited much of her father’s power and wisdom. Athena’s pre-eminent place in the myths depicted on the artwork adoring the Parthenon also reflects the pre-eminent position the city of Athens enjoyed in the mid-fifth century B.C. Nashville Parthenon