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Greek Architecture - The Corinthian Order

( Originally Published 1921 )



The Corinthian Order (p. 116) was less used by the Greeks than either the Doric or Ionic Order.

The Corinthian column, with base and shaft resembling the Ionic, is generally about ten times its diameter in height, and like the other Orders was placed on a stylobate. The distinctive feature is the capital, which is much deeper than the Ionic, being about ii diameters high (p. 105). Its origin is uncertain, but it may have been a development from that type of Ionic which has anthemion sculpture beneath the volutes, as in the Erechtheion, or it may have been a combination of the bell-shaped Egyptian capital (pp. 41 L--Q, 105 A) and the Assyrian spiral (p. 47 H). Callimachus, a worker in Corinthian bronze, is sometimes credited with being the original designer of this capital, and, according to Vitruvius (Bk. IV, chap. i), he obtained the idea from observing a basket over the grave of a Corinthian maiden, covered by a tile for protection and surrounded by acanthus leaves, which formed volutes at the angles (p. 105 B). The earlier examples appear to have been in bronze, and Pliny (XXXIV, chap. iii) refers to a portico which was called Corinthian because of its bronze capitals. The usual type has a deep, inverted bell, the lower part of which is surrounded by two tiers of eight acanthus leaves (p. 105 C, D), and from between the leaves of the upper row rise eight caulicoli (caulis = a stalk), each surmounted by a calyx from which emerge volutes or helices supporting the angles of the abacus and the central foliated ornaments. Each face of the moulded abacus is curved outwards to a point at the angles, as in the Temple of Apollo Didymaeus, Miletus (p. 106 L, O), the Olympieion, Athens (p. 124 A), the Temple of Apollo Epicurius (p. 105 F), the Tholos, Epidauros (p. 105 H), and the Portico, Athens (p. 209), or the abacus is chamfered at each angle, as in the Monument of Lysicrates, Athens (p. 105 G) . Another type has one row of acanthus leaves with palm leaves above and no volutes, and a moulded abacus, square on plan, as in the Tower of the Winds, Athens.

The Corinthian entablature, which is usually about one-fifth of the height of the entire Order, bears a general resemblance to the Ionic, with the usual triple division of architrave, frieze, and cornice, but with additional carved mouldings.



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