Greek and Roman Architecture; Philosophy

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I confirm by submitting this work for assessment that I am its sole author, and that all quotations, summaries or extracts from published sources have been correctly referenced. I confirm that this work, in whole or in part, has not been previously submitted for any other award at this or any The three key classic orders of Greek and Roman architecture are Doric (the earliest and most basic), followed by Ionic distinguished by its “two opposed volutes” and lastly Corinthian. “The Greek Corinthian Order was named for the city of Corinth” , an ancient “city of the Peloponnese, in south-central Greece” . One of the most notable buildings in Corinth is the Temple of Apollo which is “one of the earliest Doric temples in the Peloponnese and the Greek mainland”, it was built around 560 BC. The earliest seen example of the Corinthian Order was seen during the late classical period in 427 bc in Bassae. “Corinthian columns are the most ornate, slender and sleek of the three Greek Orders” making them recognisable by their elaborate capitals and slender fluted columns. The Temple of Apollo Epicurus b.400BC “is the only Greek temple to have incorporated all three ancient orders in its design: Doric for the exterior, Ionic for the cella or naos, and a single Corinthian column marking the entrance to the adyton or inner sanctum.” 

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Later, during the revival period in the Renaissance two more orders were added, Tuscan and Composite. Superposed Order is where a building’s successive storeys have a different Order of column, the Coliseum is one of the most notable examples of this. It has a branch of Doric Order as the first, Ionic as the second and Corinthian on the third. On the fourth floor it has Corinthian pilasters. The Coliseum was built this way because during the renaissance it was common for architects to use the Superposed Order for gigantic buildings until they developed the Colossal order.

The three classic orders are based on the proportions of the male and female anatomy. “The male body inspired the Doric order”  as the biggest of the three key Orders their sturdy appearance and plain capitals makes them appear as ‘masculine’ proportionally. “The female body (inspired) the ionic order” which got its name from being developed on the Ionian islands. Usually “used for smaller buildings and interiors”, it has two scrolls named volutes on its capital. It is seen as the feminine Order because the volutes have been speculated to be based on “the female fallopian tubes, giving weight to Virtuvis’ idea on the Ionic Order being a “female” form.” The “young maiden’s body (inspires) the Corinthian Order.” It is wider than the Ionic order yet much more extravagant due to its detailed capital. Therefore, if a temple was being built the architect would decide on the order based on the gender of the God the Temple. So, for instance the Temple of Zeus in Olympia b.471BC used Doric Order as Zeus is a male God.

The Corinthian Order can be recognised by “The hanging capital, that is carved with two staggered rows of stylized acanthus leaves and four scrolls” ; “The shaft (which) has twenty four sharp-edged flutes”; and the abacus who’s “concave sides that conform to the corners of the capital”. Typically, Corinthian columns are always fluted however variations in the design have sometimes led to them being enriched by being filleted or stop fluted where the rods rising to a third of the way into where the entasis begins. At the U.S. Capitol the exterior “contains examples of a modified Corinthian style”  for instance typically the capitols would have the classic acanthus leaves but thistles as well as the native American tobacco plants are added to these capitals which is quite unique. Within here resides the famous “heigh ceilinged Hall of Columns which takes its name from the 28 fluted, white marble columns that line the corridor” . Looking at the Corinthian Order’s form in more detail it is noticeable that there are “three major parts (which) include cornice, frieze and architrave”. The cornice is a crowning projection resting on top of the frieze and is used in Corinthian columns as a crowing architectural element. The word frieze refers to the “middle section of the classic entablature, located above the architrave” , supporting the cornice. Finally “the architrave is the lowest section of the horizontal entablature” however more modernly an architrave can be also on the interior of buildings and be classified as “any horizontal or vertical moulding that forms the surround to a door, window of other opening”.

One final example of the Corinthian Order in Greek architecture is the Olympieion also known as the Temple of Olympian Zeus which “was an enormous temple built over several centuries, starting in 174 BCE and finally completed by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in 131 CE.” The temple used Corinthian columns so that all 104 original columns could be large to complete the ambitious layout. Although Doric columns are bigger it was more appropriate to use Corinthian columns so that the extravagant capitals could be added to honor the Greek God Zeus. Ionic columns were not used because they are the slenderest and they’re also feminine which wouldn’t coincide with it being the Temple of Zeus, a male God nor the size of the temple. 

Corinthian columns are split in a ratio of 6:5 column to shaft, meaning that the column itself would typically be five roman feet and the capital would be one roman foot. Width wise typically the ratio of thickness to height is around 10:1 highlighting the distinct slender appearance of the columns. Proportionally the Corinthian order is very similar to the Ionic Order however its ornate capitals make them easily differentiable, Corinthian columns are more slender than that of the Doric Order. As all of the Orders have the desire to be in the ratio to the human form, the Florentine architect Francesco di Giorgio would make squared drawings of the columns with capitals decorated with human heads to show the direct link to the human body proportions. The “coherent integration of dimensions and ratios in accordance with the principles of symmetria”  is what defines the Corinthian Order’s extreme proportion which was favoured by Greek architects.


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