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Becoming Good Democrats and Wives
Civic Education and Female Socialization on the Parthenon Frieze
The analysis of the Parthenon frieze presented in the present study is based on the assumption that the pictorial narrative scenes of the Classical period were conceived with the intention of exemplifying comprehensive patterns of action, which were related to ethical values and social status. In this way, it can be shown that on the west, north and south side of the frieze the pictorial narration, in several "chapters", demonstrates how the young male Athenians become qualified members of the citizenry through a multi-stage process of civic education carried out by the democratic polis; the stages of female socialization are visualized on the east side, the goal being the status and responsibilities of a married woman who raises and educates her offspring in an Athenian oikos, as represented in the central scene of the east frieze. The messages of the other Parthenon sculptures as well as of the colossal statue of Athena in the centre of this sacred building are closely related to this frame of reference. One could claim that the pictorial narrative of the Parthenon frieze is the first comprehensive discourse on democracy known to us.