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Temples and the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian Orders

Doric templeTemple from Templum is the same word as the Greek temenos, from temnw to cut off, means to separate some special place from the rest of the land. Usually religion rites were held outside the temple in front of the temple at an altar. With a few exceptions (for example temple to Apollo on Delos) most temples face east as the priests faced the direction of the rising sun when making offerings to the gods.

A shrine is stronger than a tower to save, A shield that none may cleave. Aeschylus The Suppliants

Persons were protected in the sacred space of the Temenos, they could not be taken out without their will. They enjoyed the right of asylia (or today asylum, from sylan “to steal”, ) (the right not to be taken or stolen out).

Doric Temples

Greek Doric temples have usually a pattern under the pediment known as triglyphs (three cuttings) and metopes. The triglyphs alternate with the metopes across the front of the temple. Triglyphs have three parts, and then in between the triglyphs are the metopes. The frieze often was an alternating set of triglyphs and metopes.

The Doric and Ionic Order are the main structural systems of Greeks temples (type of column, decoration, etc). The third so-called Corinthian Order is similar to the Ionic Order with differences mainly in the column decoration.



Doric Order

DoricWishing to set up columns in that temple, but not having rules for their symmetry, and being in search of some way by which they could render them fit to bear a load and also of a satisfactory beauty of appearance, they measured the imprint of a man’s foot and compared this with his height. On finding that, in a man, the foot was one sixth of the height, they applied the same principle to the column, and reared the shaft, including the capital, to a height six times its thickness at its base. Thus the Doric column, as used in buildings, began to exhibit the proportions, strength, and beauty of the body of a man. Vitruvius.

The Doric order mainly used by the Dorians (southern Italy and Sicily “Magna Graecia”) and in Athens (Parthenon). Some characteristic elements are the triglyphs and metopes and the column capitals ( with the convex echinus and the square abacus)

The Doric columns are carved with channels called flutes (usually 20) these channels meet in sharp ridges (so called arrises) whereas in the Ionic order they are separated by bands (fillets) and the flutes are deeper.

A characteristic elements of the Doric order: the Triglyphs and the usually decorated Metopes

(Parthenon Example), Mainland Greece and Magna Graecia (Italy), No column base like in Ionic or Corinthian Order.


Ionic Order

IonicJust so afterwards, when they desired to construct a temple to Diana in a new style of beauty, they translated these footprints into terms characteristic of the slenderness of women, and thus first made a column the thickness of which was only one eighth of its height, so that it might have a taller look. At the foot they substituted the base in place of a shoe; in the capital they placed the volutes, hanging down at the right and left like curly ringlets, and ornamented its front with cymatia and with festoons of fruit arranged in place of hair, while they brought the flutes down the whole shaft, falling like the folds in the robes worn by matrons Vitruvius

The architrave (less massive than in the Doric order) divided in three bands (fasciae). The entablature divided in the architrave, the frieze and the cornice. In the Ionic order the columns rest on a base whereas in the Doric order they are directly on the crepidoma.

Attic Base of a Ionic column.

Ionic Column: Volute with the spiral that ends in a circle, the so-called “eye” The column fluted with usually 24 flutes “a” deeper than in the Doric order, separated by a thin bands (fillets, “b”). The volute rests on the echinus decorated with the egg-and-dart ornaments.

(Erechtheion Example). Associated with Asia Minor.

Corinthian Order

CorinthianThe third order, called Corinthian, is an imitation of the slenderness of a maiden; for the outlines and limbs of maidens, being more slender on account of their tender years, admit of prettier effect in the way of adornment.

It is related that the original discovery of this form of capital was as follows. A freeborn maiden of Corinth, just of marriageable age, was attacked by an illness and passed away. After her burial, her nurse, collecting a few little things which used to give the girl pleasure while she was alive, put them in a basket, carried it to the tomb, and laid it on top thereof, covering it with a roof-tile so that the things might last longer in the open air. This basket happened to be placed just above the root of an acanthus. The acanthus root, pressed down meanwhile though it was by the weight, when springtime came round put forth leaves and stalks in the middle, and the stalks, growing up along the sides of the basket, and pressed out by the corners of the tile through the compulsion of its weight, were forced to bend into volutes at the outer edges. Just then Callimachus … passed by this tomb and observed the basket with the tender young leaves growing round it. Delighted with the novel style and form, he built some columns after that pattern for the Corinthians, determined their symmetrical proportions, and established from that time forth the rules to be followed in finished works of the Corinthian order Vitruvius.

The Corinthian Order is similar to the Ionic Order, with the exception of the capital decorated usually with 2 tiers of acanthus leaves, and anthemion ornaments. The first known use of the Corinthian order was in Athens around 335 BC (Lysicrates Choragic Monument, with only one tier of acanthus leaves). Earlier it was used in the Apollo Epicurius Temple, Bassae c. 430/390 BC. It was used mainly in the Hellenistic period and by the Romans.


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