The Parthenon Enigma
“[An] exciting and revelatory history . . . a bracing reminder that first-rate scholarship not only takes no visible fact for granted but also digs deep into the unknown unknowns . . . Her book is that rare thing: the exposition of a truly great idea, and a reminder of what a thrilling subject the past, that foreign country, can be.”
“With first-rate scholarship, an archaeologist reinterprets the Parthenon frieze in this exciting and revelatory history.”
“About halfway through reading it, this reviewer surrendered… The book is more than ingenious… it creates the most convincing explanation of the entire Parthenon programme so far put before us.”
“…so far the only coherent explanation for every form of architectural sculpture on the temple, in a quasi-chronological, generational series of depictions. … Do I personally believe that Connelly is right? I become progressively more convinced that she is…”.
“It is consistent with the conventions of Greek temple art for a frieze to depict a foundational myth of the city and her cults. …Connelly’s theory is attractive and plausible, and is backed by a considerable breadth and depth of scholarship—archaeological, visual, and textual.”
“Read The Parthenon Enigma. It is a very important book: thoroughly researched and written for the intelligent reader. It is original, insightful and convincing.”
“An engaging and intensely interesting book” that “makes a thoughtful, stimulating, and unquestionably valuable contribution to our understanding of the sculptures of the Parthenon.” . . . “Connelly’s reading of the central scene of the east frieze is certainly more coherent and, if not entirely conclusive, at least more plausible than the interpretation which sees the frieze as an extended portrayal of the components of the Panathenaic procession.”
“Learned, ambitious . . . up to date with the excellent theoretical work of recent decades. It is time to change the textbooks and the museum labels.”
William St. Clair, Times Literary Supplement (May 30, 2014)
“Readers of The Parthenon Enigma are likely to find themselves peering out over the ancient landscape of cultural and political change revealed by Connelly's narrative, and meditating on how our own democracy might evolve in the years to come."
“Connelly’s persuasive reinterpretation of the frieze will spark controversy among academics, as will her advocacy of the return to Greece of the British Museum’s Elgin Marbles. But this detailed, smart, and tantalizing study offers much to savor while immersing readers in a ‘spirit-saturated, anxious world’ at the mercy of mercurial gods.” Publishers Weekly (December 9, 2013)
“…a thrilling piece of detective work that unravels what . . . seems to be an impossibly complicated mystery. Connelly knows how to communicate . . . [in a] .. lucid and elegant writing style.”
"Connelly’s interpretation [holds] a lighter, even positive message, one that speaks to the influence of the Parthenon in the fields of architecture, government and the very nature of civilized society."
"The [Parthenon] sculptures . . . are “part of a complex network of meanings in which geology, landscape, topography, memory, myth, art, literature, history, religion, and politeia are intricately interwoven.”
“A line from Euripides’ fragmentary play shows just how much ancient democratic values may have differed from our own. The individual, even if royal, was subordinate to a larger group.”
“The thrilling notion that a great monument has been decoded, that centuries of misunderstanding have been put to flight, will captivate many readers…one of the most original theses of modern classical scholarship.” The Wall Street Journal (January 25, 2014)
“Groundbreaking…Connelly’s copious notes and lengthy bibliography will satisfy classical scholars. But general readers with an interest in Greek history and architecture will find “The Parthenon Enigma” fascinating as well….Readers [will] never think of the world’s most famous building in the same way again.” Doug Childers, Richmond Times Dispatch (February 2, 2014)
“A detailed portrait of the Parthenon as seen through what Connelly calls “ancient eyes.”
“Archaeologists need to look again at the classical masterpiece.”
“'I’ve especially written this book for the young,' Connelly says."
“An explosive reinterpretation of a classical icon.” Booklist ★ Starred Review (December 1, 2013)
“Connelly's depth of knowledge and scholastic effort shine through brilliantly. Her thorough research presents a convincing argument for newly comprehending the Parthenon's frieze and potentially reevaluating long accepted research on the subject. Enthusiastically recommended for all readers interested in ancient Greece.” Library Journal, ★ Starred Review (December 1, 2013)
“Classical archaeologist Connelly's history and analysis of every square inch of the Parthenon requires close attention . . . A book for all who seek direction and are capable of seeing the bigger picture.” Kirkus Reviews (December 11, 2013)
"...Some chapters contain dotingly beautiful descriptions of the art and architecture of the building, the religious and life habits of the Athenians, construction methods, and the cost and the political significance of the building through time. It is, thus, a challenging book, but one that will pay the dedicated reader enormous benefits." The Wichita Eagle (May 18, 2014)
“Joan Connelly's groundbreaking work will forever change our conception of the most important building in the history of western civilization. By cracking the hidden code of the Parthenon, she reveals the classical world in a radical new light that will reorient how we all view its legacy for the 21st century.” Tom Reiss, author of The Black Count, winner of the Pulitzer Prize
“Joan Connelly's learned and elegant study makes a powerful case for a new understanding of the Parthenon, its original meaning as a religious object and for the fullest possible restoration of its many parts still scattered far and wide.” Donald Kagan, Sterling Professor
Emeritus of Classics and History, Yale University, and author of The Peloponnesian War
“I so admire the historical approach of this luminous book: courageously and intelligently starting from scratch, Joan Connelly reconstructs the meaning of the Parthenon from the perspective of Perikles and his contemporaries in Classical Athens. The unfamiliar picture that emerges gives us all a sharper vision of what this timeless monument can still mean to our own troubled world.” Gregory Nagy, Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature, Director of the Center for Hellenic Studies, Harvard University
“Readers born before 1960 may be reluctant to break with some long established “truths” about the meaning of the Parthenon frieze but Joan Connelly’s book is one for the 21st century, full of new finds and fresh insights.” Angelos Chaniotis, Professor of Ancient History and Classics, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
“We are a species of storytellers whose tales have shaped our reality since ancient times. Joan Connelly’s brilliant study of the Parthenon shows how a myth can reveal as many secrets as a rock or a ruin, and how rethinking what we know about antiquity can help us better understand ourselves today.” George Lucas, creator of the Star Wars saga
Portrait of a Priestess
"In this sphere of polis life the priestess clearly played a leading and fundamental role. This makes it all the more astonishing that Joan Breton Connely's Portrait of a Priestess is, as she rightly claims, the first full-length work to take the Greek priestess specifically as its subject . . . Connelly has run down inscriptions--honorific, funerary, financial, or cult-related--all over the Mediterranean. She has studied a plethora of statues and vase paintings in collections from Samos to St. Petersburg, from Messene to Munich, from Thebes to Toledo. Her indexes of monuments and inscriptions testify to the prodigious amount of work that has gone into this volume . . . Portrait of a Priestess is a remarkable triumph against heavy odds."
Peter Green, New York Review of Books
"Eye opening . . . well-documented, meticulously assembled . . . Greek religion is a vast and complex subject, and Portrait of a Priestess, by concentrating on one of its most concretely human aspects, offers an engrossing point of entry . . . Connelly's style is clear, often elegant and occasionally stirring." Steve Coates, New York Times Book Review
"The quantity of illustrations is revealing: if women were excluded from public life, why were their images everywhere? Connelly argues that the authority entrusted to women as priestesses made them far from subordinate in the Greek state and that they were in fact often prominent and indispensable executives in the civic sphere. This is a reinterpretation of antiquity that works." Nigel Spivey, Financial Times
"Joan Connelly's book boldly challenges old assumptions about the subordination of Greek women . . . The array of monuments, vase paintings, and inscriptions Connelly has collected is a welcome resource for scholars, and nonexperts will benefit from her clear style and careful placement of each object in historical context." Joy Connolly, Women's Review of Books
"By examining the lives and work of 150 priestesses--from Troy's Kassandra, whose beauty distracted Ajax, to the historical Berenike who was celebrated for her civic and philanthropic contributions to the city of Syros--Connelly reinstates these women to their rightful place in ancient history." Eti Bonn-Muller, Archaeology
"Connelly's landmark study is a must-read for any scholar of ancient religion, art, or gender studies." Laurie A. Kilker, Religion Journal