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At the Nashville Parthenon - Talking Athena with John Taylor

by Rich and Laura Lynch

The Who famously sang about Athena in their 1982 song of the same name singing - "She's just a girl, She's a bomb". But, to Nashville tour guide John Taylor the large statue of the Grecian Goddess located inside the city's to scale recreation of the famed historic temple known as The Parthenon is so much more than just a girl. We found out during an exclusive late December 2021 tour of the site courtesy of the generous and gregarious host - that once his fuse was lit he could go off and on about all things related to the Greeks and their influence on our modern society for a good long time.


John Taylor leads a group of tourists in late December 2021.

Taylor was passionate as he pointed out the construction of the entrance, columns and walls located on the exterior of the building. He drew our attention to the forced perspective while introducing the idea that everything we were about to see was simply an illusion created by the Greeks to enhance the mystery surrounding its occupant inside. He asked us why did we think the steps to the front gate were so large? The answer was that in this way visitors were forced by the simple power of gravity to bow to Athena.

Once inside John retraced the history of the structure as it was built for the 6-month celebration of Nashville's Centennial in 1897 out of wood and plaster only to be later refashioned yet again out of a more permanent concrete type of building material. Taylor explained the origin of the terms "splitting" and "pounding" headache courtesy of Zeus and revealed that the Greeks were largely responsible for our modern times 4-year cycle of Presidential elections, higher education programs and Olympic showcases.


The Parthenon at the Nashville Centennial and emblazoned on a beer can; Athena up close.

As a young man Taylor himself was given an exclusive and personal tour of the facility and he has continued to pay that favor forward ever since. During our visit he repeatedly called in onlookers and families with children to enhance their understanding of the building and all of its relevant historical facts. John himself is an artist usually found working in the Etch-A-Sketch medium. He is friends with Alan LeQuire, a Nashville native and Vanderbilt University graduate who created the the 42-foot-tall Athena Parthenos statue that stands as the largest of its kind in America since its 1990 unveiling. As such, Taylor was able to personally participate in the gold-leafing project that finalized the work into the form we see today.

Surrounding the Parthenon in Centennial Park is the new great lawn featuring 19 sprawling acres created for public use in Phase One of a beautification and redevelopment project currently underway on the property. The Centennial Park Conservancy is the private organization funding these improvements and the next phase promises an improved entry and a multi-use event space that should attract even more daily visitors to this iconic hub of midtown. John Taylor is available for individual and guided group tours and can be reached at 615-474-4049.


Tour guide John Taylor and his leading lady - Athena.

Related Links: For more information on the NASHVILLE PARTHENON and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - The Parthenon | Centennial Park Conservancy

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