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Greek Architecture - Other Greek Buildings

( Originally Published 1915 )

Having come to understand something in detail of the Doric order, we may take a glance at buildings of the other orders, that is, of the Ionic and the Corinthian.

The Ionic temples are not so well preserved as the Doric. The most important of the Ionic temples left to us is the Erechtheum at Athens. It differs from other temples in its irregularity. This makes it doubly interesting for it shows that although the Greeks nearly always adhered to one simple form, they could dispense with it when they wished. In the Erechtheum, they wished to provide for several shrines in one building, and under one roof. The irregularity they have made so beautiful and interesting that it is a wonder they did not repeat the idea many times in other structures. Figure 15 shows the caryatids in the porch of the Erechtheum. A caryatid is the figure of a woman dressed in long robes, serving as a column to support an entablature. Figure 116 shows the eastern elevation of the Erechtheum. Notice the style of the capitals as well as the caryatids. Its two colonnades of different designs, its remarkable north doorway, and the famous caryatid porch to the south are unsurpassed. Another temple, that of Artemis (Diana) at Ephesus, was known as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. We notice that the capitals in the pictures of these Ionic buildings show much more lightness and grace, delicacy and elaboration, than those of the Doric. A great example of the, third, or Corinthian order is the monument of Lysicrates at Athens.


In the elder days of art
Builders wrought with greatest care
Each minute and unseen part.

Pope said of the Grecian style of house:

'T is very fine,
But where d'ye sleep and where d'ye dine?
I find by all you have been telling
That 't is a house but not a dwelling.

All Greek temples faced the east and in front of them there was an altar for the sacrifices.

While we find such praise due to Greek perfection, let us remember that the Greeks worked on one type of building in one simple style for nearly six centuries.

As we look back to the Greece of the period of its great buildings, it seems to us like a vision of the distant past. And so it is. But when Phidias and Pericles and Homer looked at the monuments of Egypt, if they did look at them, they were viewing a past as old to them as theirs is to us. They too could talk of the ancients !

"Where on the Aegean shore a city stands,
Built nobly, pure the air and light the soil;
Athens, the eye of Greece, mother of arts and eloquence." Milton.

Some one has said that classic art was national while Gothic art was devotional that the pagan was the better artist, the Christian the better teacher.

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