1902 Encyclopedia > Architecture > Choragic Monuments

Architecture
(Part 58)



Choragic Monuments

The choragic monument of Lysicrates (or Lantern of Demosthenes), at Athens (Plate XII.), is a small structure, consisting of an elegant quadrangular basement or podium, which is more than two-fifths of the whole height, surmounted by a cyclostyle of six Corinthian columns, attached to, and projecting rather more than one-half from a wall which perfects the cylinder up to the top of their shafts, where it forms a stand for tripods the height of the capital. A characteristic entablature rests on the columns, and receives a tholus or dome, which is richly ornamented, and terminates in a foliated and heliced acroterium. To this Stuart has added dolphins as supporters, and has placed on the summit a tripod, which was the prize in the choragic festival; thus completing, perhaps, the most beautiful composition in its style ever executed. In Vitruvian language, the arrangement of this edifice would be called monopteral; but it is more correctly cyclostylar, or, perhaps, because of the wall or core, it may be termed a pseudo or attached cyclostyle. The basement of this monument is eminently bold and simple, admirably proportioned to the rest of the structure, and harmonising perfectly with it. The columnar ordinance is the only perfect specimen of the style in existence of pure Greek origin. It has never been surpassed, and is, perhaps, unequalled. The most exquisite harmony reigns throughout its composition; it is simple without being poor, and rich without being meretricious.

Totally different in style and arrangement, and far inferior in merit, is the choragic monument of Thrasyllus. It bears, however, the impress of the Grecian mind. This composition is merely a front to a cave, consisting of three pilasters, proportioned and moulded like Doric antae, and supporting an entablature similar is style, but too shallow to harmonies with them. Above the entablature there is an attic or parapet, divided into three compartments horizontally. The two external form tablets, with a cornice or impost on them and the central is composed of three receding courses, on the summit of which is seated a draped human figure, whether male or female, in its mutilated state, is not determinable. The entablature has laurel wreaths instead of triglyphs in the frieze, and it would appear as if the absence of the triglyph had deranged the whole composition. The two outer pilasters are of good proportion, and the architrave is well proportioned to them; but the frieze and cornice are both too narrow, and the spaces between the pilasters, equivalent to intercolumniations, are too wide. The third pilaster, itself inharmonious, is absurdly narrow, and, standing immediately under the statue, evidently to support it, its meagreness is the more obvious and striking. In spite of all this, the general outline of the structure is simple is simple and pleasing; the detail is elegant, and the execution spirited and effective. This little monument is, however, a proof that the Greeks were not at all times so excellent in architectural compositions as in the self-composing Doric temples, and in the choragic monument of Lysicrates; and to this evidence may be added that of the triple temple in the Acropolis of Athens, already described.






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