The word “zoforos” derives from the noun “zoi” meaning life and the verb “ferro” meaning to carry. Architecturally, it refers to a frieze, a continuous band with representations of humans and animals in motion, the likes of which decorate temples built in the Ionic style. The placement of a frieze on the Parthenon, which was a Doric style temple, is the only exception in ancient Greek architecture. The frieze is part of the temple’s structure and is located close to the marble roof. The representations are in low relief. The rich colors and small metallic adornments on the figures make for a very impressive composition.The frieze represents the Panathenaic procession, subtly illustrating the fairest constitution that could ever exist, that of Democracy. The plot of the procession, portrayed by the composition’s figures, gradually unfolds across the 160-meter frieze. Participating in the procession we find men, women, horsemen, sacrificial animals, priests with ceremonial vessels and of course the Olympian gods who were in attendance
The Frieze on the North Side
The frieze on the north side shows sixty horsemen participating in a chariot race. This sport was practiced during Panathenaic celebrations and was drawn from the legend of the local hero Erechtheus. Four chariots, each carrying one soldier and one charioteer, competed in the race. This scene is followed by the sacrifice. In front stand the sacrificial animals including four oxen and four rams led by men. The procession also includes men carrying olive branches, water vessels and baskets full of offerings, as well as musicians.
The Frieze of the South side
Ten groups of six horsemen each participate in the procession depicted on the south side of the frieze. Ten chariots proceed behind the sacrificial march, which is similar to the one of the north side, though here ten sacrificial oxen are depicted. The procession is led by the marshall of ceremonies, who oversees the races.
The Frieze of the East side
On the east side, the “divine” side of the frieze, the gods are shown seated on stools. This was the only way in which they could be fitted into the frieze, given their large size. Due to the sacred nature of the east side, no animals are included there, while it the only side where women are depicted. The “peplos” offering, the highest moment of the ritual is depicted in the center, exactly above the main entrance to the temple. The high priest and a boy are shown carrying the garment. A priestess and two smaller female figures are also present. To the left and right of the garment, the gods are seated; between them stands Iris behind Hera. Between the gods and the procession are the heroes of Attica, six on the left and four on the right, after whom the tribes of Athens were named.
The Frieze of the West side
The two masters of ceremonies are depicted at the two ends of the western frieze, one on each side. The remainder of the frieze shows Athenians celebrating the Panathenaic festival. The people and animals participating in the procession are fewer in number compared to the other sides of the frieze. In these scenes, we see young men on horseback and others preparing to ride