1902 Encyclopedia > Architecture > Greek Theatres. Private Houses. Fortifications. Building Materials.

(Part 61)

Greek Theatres. Private Houses. Fortifications. Building Materials.

THEATRES – The Greek theatre deserves a short, notice. It was entirely different from ours, having neither pit, boxes, nor roof, except the usual velarium, as a protection from the sun. Its plan was somewhat more than a semicircle, having seats cut out of the side of some hill convenient for the purpose. Round the top was a colonnade, and at the back of the stage was the scena. This and the colonnade combined in an artistic way, must have formed a very effective composition. At first the theatres were of wood; the first of stone, at Athens, having been built , it is said, about the middle of the 4th century. Vitruvius makes some very singular statements as to the acoustic details of the theatres, but they have not been verified, and are not, in fact, quite understood. The theatres at Argos and Ephesus were 450 and 600 feet in diameter respectively, whereas Covent Garden Theatre, London, including the corridors, in only 100 feet.

HOUSES, &c. – No remains exist of the domestic structures of the Greeks. It may be taken for granted that the houses were less extensive than those of the Romans, as they were a poorer and less luxurious people; but the exquisite beauty of form and decoration which pervades every article of Greek origin, whether coin, medallion, vase, implement of war or husbandry, or even the meanest article of domestic or personal use, is evidence of the fine taste with which their mansions must have been furnished.

FORTIFICATIONS – We have large remains of fortifications in Lycia, though few in Greece proper. They are not so picturesque as the mediaeval, nor we may say, as the Assyrian. They were massively built of masonry, with square towers at intervals, furnished sometimes with a pediment, sometimes with battlements. The doors and windows on the upper floor are still found at Alinda, in Caria. The Greek shield was often sculptured as hung on the walls. A bas-relief from Pinara, in Lycia, gives a complete sketch of the walls, with circular-topped battlements, a postern gate, and various openings, all square-headed; and a door is shown paneled, like our doors.

BUILDING MATERIALS -- In the construction of their edifices the Greeks seldom, if ever, had recourse to foreign materials – the stone used in their temples being almost invariably from the nearest convenient quarries which supplied it of sufficiency good quality. The structures of Athens are built of marble, from the quarries of Pentelicus, and those of Agrigentum, of a fossil conglomerate which the place itself furnished.

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