1902 Encyclopedia > Architecture > Greek Doric Order of Architecture: Origins; Three Parts: (a) Stylobate; (b) Column

(Part 39)

Greek Doric Order of Architecture: Origins; Three Parts: (a) Stylobate; (b) Column

Vitruvius gives several accounts of the origin of the Greek Doric order. He states first that "Dorus (the son of Hellenus and of the nymph Orseis), king of Achaia and of all the Peloponnesus, having formerly built a temple to Juno in then ancient city or Argos, this temple was found be chance to be in that manner which we call Doric." In another place he deduces the arrangements of the order from those of a primitive log hut, settling with the utmost precision what, in the latter, suggested the various parts in the former. But he also tells us that the Doric column was modelled by the Grecian colonists in Asia Minor in the proportions of a human figure, and was made six diameters in height, because a man was found to be 6 times the length of his foot. But this story, even supposing it to be rational, does not coincide with the Greek Doric at all, but, if with anything, with the Roman.

In the Greek examples, this order may be divided into three parts, stylobate, column, and entablature (Plate VIII. fig. 4) The stylobate is from two-thirds to a whole diameter of the column in height, in three equal courses, which recede gradually the one above from the one below it, and on the floor or upper step the column rests. That graduation, it may be remarked, does not appear to have been made by the ancients to facilitate the access to the floor of the stoa or portico, but on the principle of the spreading footings of a wall, to give both real and apparent firmness to the structure, both of which it does in an eminent degree.

The column varies in height in different examples, from four diameters, as at Corinth, to six diameters, as at Sunium. Of this the capital, including the necking, is rather less than half a diameter: in those cases in which a necking does not exist, the capital itself occupies nearly the same proportion (Plate VIII. figs. 4 and 9; Plate IX. Fig. 4) The shaft diminishes in a slightly curved line, called an entasis, from its base or inferior diameter upwards to the hypotrachelium, where the diameter is from two-thirds to four-fifths of that at the base. It is the inferior diameter that is always intended hen the term is used as a measure of proportion. The capital consists of a necking, an echinus or ovolo, and an abacus; the necking is about one-fifth of the height of the capital, and the other two members equally divide the remaining four-fifths; when there is no necking, the ovolo occupies the greater proportion of the whole height. The abacus is a square tablet, whose sides are rather more than the inferior diameter of the column. The corbelling of the ovolo adapts it to both the diminished head of the shaft and the extended abacus, flowing into the one, and forming a bed for the other by means of a graceful cyma-reversa; but its lower part is encircled by three or four rings or annulets, which are variously formed in different examples, and which give the echinus form to the great moulding, although it is, as we have said, part of a cyma-reversa. (Figs. 6 and 7 of Plates VIII. and IX.) The shaft is divided generally into twenty flutes; but there are several examples with sixteen, and there is one with twenty-four. The flutes are sometimes segments of circles, sometimes semi-ellipses, and sometimes eccentric curves (Plate VIII. fig., 12; edge, and follow the entasis and diminution of the column up through the hypotrachelium to the annulets, under which they finish, sometimes with a straight and sometimes with a curved head. At the base they detail on the pavement or floor of the stylobate. In one example at Segesta the columns are not fluted at all, and in two others, at Cnidus and Delos, the flutes are marked at top and bottom only, but in these examples the columns were possibly not finished.

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