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Classical Greek Architecture Essay

1284 words - 5 pages

Classical Greek Architecture

The reuse of older art works in contemporary times is not an uncommon occurrence, and many examples can be seen throughout the day as one goes from place to place. Even when one is browsing through the World Wide Web can many uses of older art and architecture be seen, as with the example shown. This image was found on the internet at the American Express homepage (, which functions as a resource for college students to find access to many commercial advertisements about discounts and products relevant for students. This homepage caters mostly to students, as non-students would not apply to the majority of the goods or services available.

The picture itself is not exemplary of any one classical Greek building, but contains many elements of classical Greek architecture and design. The columns are what stand out the most in the architecture of this picture. The original Greek columns came in three different styles, or orders: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. All Greek columns consist of both a shaft and a capital, and sometimes there is a base as well. The shaft is made from round drums stacked one on top of the other. The main difference among the orders comes from the differences in the capitals. The Doric capitals are usually very simple and look like the weight of the roof is flattening them out. The Ionic capitals are a little fancier with a large volute, which looks like rams horns rolling off of the shaft. The Corinthian capital is much more complex with smaller volutes and many stylized acanthus leaves and rosettes, accompanied by a boss on the top of each side. All three types of columns rest on the floor of the building, which is often a temple. The floor of the temple is called the stylobate, and the foundations below that are known as the stereobate.

The entablature and pediment rest on top of the columns, forming post and lintel construction. The entablature often contains friezes in the Ionic order, and metopes and triglyphs in the Doric. The metopes were often painted and the triglyphs may have symbolized wood cross beams that would have been used before the knowledge of stone construction was developed. The Ionic friezes often contained sculpted figures that relate in some way to the functionality of the temple or building. The pediment, which rests on the entablature, usually has the shape of an isosceles triangle with sculpture that varies from low relief to sculpture in the round.

The organization of the columns around the main body of the temple varies in about five major styles. The first three have a small rectangular shaped building called a cella with two to four columns in front, as with the in antis style and the prostyle, or with an additional four columns in back as with the amphiprostyle temples. The last two styles consist of a larger rectangular building divided into two rooms, one functioning as a cella. These two styles are mainly...

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