Athens of the South
As I have said, I am in the USA tracking Roman emperors, which has taken me to a surprising variey of different locations, including --en route to other things -- to the Parthenon in Nashville. The original replica building was put up for the Centennial Exhibition in Tennessee in 1897. And in the 1920s it was made permanent in fairly tasteful concrete.
It was only over the last couple of decades that the sculptor Alan LeQuire, who -- I should say -- was really helpful to me when I was writing my book on the Parthenon, first made and then gilded the replica of the cult statue. So you now walk in to see something that tries to approximate to the original experience.
I had been a bit suspicious, I must say, both of the effect and of the touristic impact. I had said to the husband, before we showed up, "I bet we are the only visitors". Well, we weren't. The Parthenon is clearly a big attraction in Nashville, and the visitors were of all ages. I had a long conversation with a lad of ten or so about the relative merits of the Greek gods. He was a fan of Poseidon, and we had a bit of a disagreement on the old Athena vs Poseidon question -- though I was a bit stumped to explain the precise geneaology of the snake, Erichthonios, crawling up by Athena's shield (I wasn't sure that the story of Hephaestus ejaculating against Athena's thigh would have gone down well with Mum and Dad listening nearby).
And the effect? Well, it reminded me just how easy it was to assimilate an extraordinary colossus such as this and how much less interesting the Parthenon would have been without it. As the husband observed, you could see why Pausanias in his description of the building went for this statue over all the other bits that we now highlight: this was in your face.
Right down to the shoes.