1902 Encyclopedia > Architecture > Greek Temples: Doric Style. Regularity of the Doric Style.

(Part 54)

Greek Temples: Doric Style

It may be inferred from some existing edifices, particularly the choragic monuments, that the Doric columnar style was not used by the Greeks except for the temples of the gods and some of their accessories. But whether this arose-if the feeling really did exist-from the sanctity of its character, in consequence of that appropriation, or from the difficulty of moulding it to general purposes, cannot be determined. It is very certain, however, that the few structures which do exist of Greek origin, not of a religious character, are either Ionic or Corinthian, or a mixture of one of them with some of the features of the Doric; and in all Greece and the Grecian colonies, except Ionia, there are very few examples of religious edifices not of the Doric order, and none which are of the Corinthian.

Regularity of the Doric Style

Like the architecture of Egypt, that of Greece is known to us principally by means of its sacred monuments, and from them is deduced almost all we know of its principles. The Doric temples of the Greeks are uniform in plan, and differ only in arrangement and proportion, according to their size; for every part depends on the same modulus. It has been said that if the dimensions of a single column, and the proportion the entablature should bear to it, were given to two individuals acquainted with the style, with directions to compose a hexastyle peripteral temple, or one of any other description they would produce designs exactly similar in size, arrangement, features, and general proportions, differing only, if at all, in the relative proportions of minor parts, and slightly, perhaps, in the contour of some of the mouldings. This can only be the case with the Doric, and it arises from the intercolumniation being determined by the arrangement of the frieze with triglyphs and metopes, the frieze bearing a certain proportion in the entablature to the diameter of the column, and so on in such a manner that the most perfect harmony is preserved between all the parts, thus (Plate IX. Fig. 1) the column is so many of its diameters in height; it diminishes gradually from the base upwards, with a slightly convexed tendency or swelling downwards; and is superimposed by a capital proportioned to it, and coming within its height. The entablature is so many diameters high also, and is divided, according to slightly varying proportions, into three parts-architrave, frieze, and cornice. A triglyph bearing a certain proportion to the diameter of the column is drawn immediately over its centre; the metope is than set off equal to the height of the frieze; another triglyph is drawn, which hangs over the void; then a metope as before; and a second triglyph, the centre of which is the central line for another column, and so on to the number required, which, in a front, will be four, six, eight, or ten columns, as the case may be, the temple being tetrastyle, hexastyle, octastyle, or decastyle; and on the flanks twice the number of those on the front and one more counting the column at the angles both ways. Thus, if the rules be strictly followed, a hexastyle temple will have thirteen columns on each flank, an octastyle seventeen, and so on. It must be observed, however, that to ease the columns at the angles, they are not placed so that the triglyph over them shall impend their centre as the others, but are set in towards the next columns, so far that a line let fall from the outer edge of the triglyph will touch the circumferential line of the column at the base, or at its greatest diameter. It has been generally thought that the object in this disposition was to bring the triglyph to the extreme angle, to obviate the necessity of a half-metope there; and many imitators have puzzled themselves to no avail to effect it without contracting the intercolumniation or elongating the first metope; though it is perfectly obvious that the intention of the Greek architects was to ease the columns in those important situations of a part of their burden, and for no such purpose as Vitruvius and his disciples have thought. Indeed, this has been a problem to the whole school, which their master proposed, and which they have settled only by putting a half-metope beyond the outer triglyph, thus preserving the intercolumniation equal, but rendering the quoins more infirm, or perhaps less stable than the Greek architects judiciously thought they should be. Besides contracting the intercolumniation, the Greeks also made the corner columns a little larger than the rest, thus counteracting in every way the danger that might accrue to them, or to the structure through them, from their exposed and partly unconnected situation. The graduated pyramidal stylobate on which the structure rests also bears a certain proportion to the standard which is measure of all the rest; and so every part is determined by the capacity of the sustaining power. Though the Doric order thus possesses, as it were, a self-proportioning power, which will secure harmony in its composition under any circumstances, yet skill and taste in the architect are necessary to determine, in every instance, the number of diameters the column shall have in height, and to assign according to that the height of the entablature. According to Vitruvius the colonnades were spaced out according to one or other of the following arrangement of the intercolumniations: -

Pycnostyle, 1 1/2 diameters apart and 10 high.
Systyle, 2 diameters apart and 9 1/2 high.
Eustyle, 2 1/4 diameters apart and about 8 1/2 high.
Diastyle, 3 diameters apart and 8 1/2 high.
Araeostyle, 4 diameters apart and 8 high.

But these rules, like many others of this author, seem to have been imaginary.

Read the rest of this article:
Architecture - Table of Contents

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-23 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries