1902 Encyclopedia > Architecture > Roman Corinthian Order: 3 Parts (a) Stylobate; (b) Column

(Part 67)

Roman Corinthian Order: 3 Parts (a) Stylobate; (b) Column

Like the Greek orders the Roman Corinthian may be said to consist of three parts, -- stylobate, column, and entablature; but, unlike them, the stylobate is much loftier, and is not graduated, except for the purpose of access before a portico. Its usual height is not exactly determinable, in consequence of the ruined state of most of the best examples; but it may be taken at from two and a half to three diameters. In the triumphal arches the height of the stylobate sometimes amounts to four, and even to five diameters. It is variously arranged, moreover, having, in the shallower examples, simply a congeries of mouldings to form its base, with, perhaps, a narrow square member under it, a plain dado, and a covering cornice or coping, on the back of which the columns rest. In the loftier examples a single and sometimes a double plinth comes under the base mouldings; and a blocking course rests upon the coping, to receive the bases of the columns. This last is only necessary when the height of the stylobate is such as to take the columnar base above the human eye, when the coping cornice would intercept it if a blocking course did not intervene.

The column (Plate XIV.) consists of base, shaft, and capital, and varies in height from nine and a half to ten diameters. The base has, ordinarily, in addition to the diminishing congeries of mouldings which follows the circular form of the shafts, a square member or plinth, whose edges are vertical; with this the whole height of the base is about half diameter. The rest of this part of the column is variously composed, but it generally consists of two plain tori and a scotia, with fillets intervening, as in Greek examples of this order, but differently proportioned and projected, as the examples indicate. Sometimes the scotia is divided into two parts by two beads, with fillets, as in the Jupiter Stator example, in which also a bead is placed between the upper torus and the fillet of the apophyge. The spread of the base varies from a diameter and one-third to a diameter and four-ninths. In the best Roman examples, as well as in the Greek, the shaft diminishes with entasis; the average diminution is one-eight of a diameter. The shaft was always fluted when the material of which it was composed did not oppose itself; for the Romans often used granites, and sometimes an onion-like marble, called therefore cipollino, for the shafts of columns; the former of which could not be easily wrought and polished in flutes, and the latter would scale away if it were cut into narrow fillets. Like the Greek Corinthian and Ionic orders, the Roman Corinthian has twenty-four fillets and flutes. The flutes are generally semicircles, and they terminate at both ends, for the most part with that contour. Dividing the space for a fillet and a flute into five parts, four are given to the latter, and one to the former. The hypotrachelium is a plain torus, about half the size of the upper torus of the base, or half the width of a flute, as these nearly correspond; its rests on a fillet above the cavetto at the head of the shaft.

The ordinary height of the capital is a diameter and one-eight; but there is a very fine example, in which it barely exceeds a diameter, and another in which it is not quite so much. It is composed of two rows or bands of acanthus leaves, each row consisting of eight leaves ranged side by side, but not in contact; of helices and tendrils trussed with foliage; and an abacus, whose faces are moulded and variously enriched. The lower row of acanthus leaves is two-sevenths the whole height of the capital; the upper row is two-thirds the height of the lower above it, and its leaves rest on the hypotrachelium below, in the spaces left between the others. They are placed regularly, too, under the helices and tendrils above, which support the angles, and are under the middle of each side of the abacus. The construction and arrangement of the next compartment above must be gathered from the examples, for a competent idea cannot be conveyed in words. The abacus is one-seventh of the height of the capital; in plan it is a square whose angles are cut off, and whose sides are concaved in segments of a circle, under an angle at the center of from 55° to 60°. Its vertical face is generally a flat cavetto, with a fillet and carved ovolo corbelling over at an angle of about 125°. The cavetto is sometimes enriched with trailing foliage, and a rosette or flower of some kind overhangs the tendrils from the middle of each side of the abacus.

Every example of this order differs so much from others on the form, proportion, and distribution of the various parts of its capital particularly, that it cannot be described in general terms like the Greek Doric and Ionic. The example referred to in the definition is that of the so-called Jupiter Stator, the most elegant, perhaps, of all the Roman specimens (Plate XIV. ex. 1)

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