The Parthenon is a Doric temple -- that's its architectural style. And one of the things that defines a Doric temple is that it has triglyphs. And in between the triglyphs, are metopes. I love those words, triglyphs and metopes. So, triglyphs just mean sort of a mark of three and it's a little three lines. -- A kind of ridges. Mhm, exactly. And in between, these squares with really deep relief carving, they're about five feet square. These would have been in an area right above where the capitals are. That's right, and below the pediment. And the metopes that we're looking at depict a battle between the Lapiths and the Centaurs. And I think we'd better talk about who they were and why they were fighting. This is a story that would have been a kind of mythic story even for the fifth century Greeks, who were depicting them. And the story tells of a wedding, a Lapith wedding. Now the Lapiths were a tribe of Ancient Greeks and they lived near the forest. Now, in the forest, were these creatures that were only sort of half human-- the Centaurs, half human half horse. And the Greeks would have looked at them as kind of monstrous creatures. You know, for the Greeks, there was a whole hierarchy of kinds of beings. The gods at the top, then there were heroes, and heroes were the result of a union between a god and a human, and then, of course, there were humans themselves. And then, below that, there were these sub-humans or monsters, and the centaurs were certainly that. So, they were not quite human, still part of the animal world. And not entirely to be trusted. Nevertheless, the Lapiths were feeling extremely generous and really wanted to celebrate this wedding. And so, they invited the Centaurs to the wedding. That was a big mistake. It was a big mistake. They had a little bit too much to drink, didn't they? They did, and they (the centaurs) took advantage. In fact, what they did is[was], all at once, they began to abduct the Lapith women. So, what's being depicted is the Lapith women being made off with, and the Lapith males fighting with the Centaurs, who are really quite formidable -- not only do they have six limbs, but you know they have all of the brute strength of a wild animal. The one we are looking at is of a lapith struggling against a centaur. It looks like he's grabbing him by the neck and pulling him. You can just see his fingers wrapping around behind that neck, even though the neck and the head itself are gone. He's pulling him back, though. Look at that -- it's almost like a bow, a spring... You can feel the tension of that body as it's being pulled back, and the strength of the Centaur-- that's really trying to pull away and free himself. It looks, actually, like the Centaur is holding on with his right hand onto something, and struggling against being pulled by the Lapith. Look at the kind of composition-- it's so complicated. You have a couple of opposing arcs: the arc of the Lapith's body, and then the arc of the Centaur's as well. Yeah, so it's almost a circular composition, in a way. And look how deep that carving is! It's amazing. It's really almost freestanding. It's actually remarkable to me that more of this did not break off than did, because it's in such high relief it's almost freestanding. And marble is really soft stone. I also love the fact that those broad plains of the body are played against the more complex sort of backdrop of the cloth. I mean this is, in some ways, incredibly naturalistic. So naturalistic that we almost believe... -You don't notice the artifice. Well, not only the artifice of the perfectly draped cloth in the background, but, how about, the artifice of the fact that we almost believe that a Centaur could exist. In other words, it is almost a believable union of a human and a horse's body. That's true. What's really striking to me is the way our eye is drawn to the anatomical structure of the Lapith's body. In the chest, in the ribcage, and the abdominal muscles, the pectoral muscles. And those same structures in the body of the Centaur, you can see its ribcage and veins. So, there's a kind of mirroring of these figures. There is a kind of mirroring. I think that is exactly right. But there's also a kind of subtle distinction, which is that the tension that the artist has constructed because of the bowing of the Centaur's body is not seen in the exertion of the Lapith. In other words, look at the Lapith, even though he is exerting tremendous power to pull back this horse, the Centaur. -- He's in control. He is in total control, total balance. And in fact, the body is almost relaxed, remains almost completely sort of perfectly noble and perfectly balanced, even within this battle. Look at the difference in the way that the Centaur and the Lapith's heads, their faces, are represented. First of all, you've got the sense of age. You've got the beautiful noble face of the Greek, of the Lapith. And even as his neck is being crushed, even as he is being choked, there is a sense of rest and nobility, there is no anguish in that face whatsoever. In contrast, we have this gnarled, bearded, long-haired, older figure, with a kind of knit brow, a kind of wild open eye, and with a kind of broken nose, all of which is looking rough and pretty much not the kind of noble mien that the Greeks give themselves. It's almost as though the human has superhuman strength, and doesn't need to draw on the brute physicality that the Centaur has to draw on. Well, I think that the Greeks were making a real distinction. They were noble and they were distinguishing themselves from the brutish barbarians beyond their borders. In fact, a lot of our historians look at this and say that the Lapiths are, in fact, the Greeks. Of course. But the Centaurs are those that are not Greek. And the Greeks themselves were looking towards for instance, the Persians, their great enemy, with real fear as barbarians, as kind of almost animals, as almost centaurs. Representing a kind of chaos. And, in fact, this art really represents, through its balance, through its perfections, through this kind of idealism, that sense of control that was so important to the Greeks. It's no wonder that for so many hundreds of years after this, thousands of years, we have looked back to this moment as this sort of extraordinary, and precious, and rare moment. Not only because it was a moment of limited democracy, but of the first democracy, but it was a moment when the mind and the body were both cherished and seen as extraordinary and beautiful.