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(Part 72)

The Roman Doric Order

The Roman Doric is even a ruder imitation of the Grecian original than the mean and tasteless deterioration of the voluted Ionic is of the graceful Athenian examples. The specimen of it which is considered preferable to the others is that of the theatre of Marcellus, in Rome (Plate XV. Ex. 4). The column is nearly 8 diameters in height: it consists of shaft and capital only. The shaft is quite plain except fillets above and below, with escape and cavetto; and it diminishes one-fifth of its diameter. The arrangement of the capital, composed of a torus, the necking, and three deep fillets, with a semitorus, surmounted by the abacus, is shown in Plate XV. Ex. 4. The corona and crown-mouldings of the cornice being destroyed, the whole height of the entablature cannot be correctly ascertained; but from analogy it may be taken, with the bed-mould, part of which exists, at about two-thirds of a diameter, making, with the architrave and frieze, an entablature nearly 2 diameters high. Of this the architrave is exactly half diameter. Three-tenths of its depth are unequally occupied by the taenia, regula, and guttae, the last of which are six in number, and truncated semicones in form. The rest of the surface of the architrave is plain and vertical, impending a point rather within the superior diameter of the column. A fascia, one-eighth of its own height, bands the frieze above the triglyphs; the rest of its surface is plain vertically, but horizontally it is divided into triglyphs, half a diameter in width, and placed over the centres of the columns. The space between the triglyphs is equal to the height of the frieze without its plat-band or fascia, making in effect perfectly square metopes. All that can be traced of the cornice is a small cyma-reversa, immediately over the frieze, and a square member with dentils on it. In the example, the cornice is completed from that of the Doric of the Colosseum.

The temple at Cora presents a singular specimen of the Doric order, evidently the result of an examination of some Greek examples, but moulded to the Roman proportions and to Roman taste. The columns are enormously tall, but the shafts are party fluted and partly chamfered for fluting, like the Greek. The capital is ridiculously shallow, but the abacus is plain, and the echinus of a somewhat Hellenic form. The entablature is very little more than a diameter and one-third in height, and the architrave of it is shallower even than the capital; but the frieze and cornice are tolerably well proportioned, though the triglyphs in the former are meagre, narrow slips, and the latter is covered by a deep widely-projecting cavetto, that would be injurious to even a better composition. Instead of regular mutules with guttae, the whole of the planceer of the cornice is studded with the latter; but, like the Greek, the triglyph over the angular column extends to the angle of the architrave, which does not appear to have been the practice of the Romans; yet the reason for this does not appear to have been understood, for the external intercolumniations are the same as the others.

As far as we have the means of judging, the Romans made the antae of their Doric similar to the columns, only that they were, of course, square instead of round; though, indeed, an attached column appears to have been generally preferred..

It is, however, to be remembered, that these two orders, the Ionic and Doric of the Roman school, ought hardly to be considered as belonging to the architecture of the Romans. They are merely coarse and vulgar adaptations of the Greek originals, of which we now possess records of the finest examples. Yet their meanness and tastelessness, when compared with the Grecian models, more strikingly evince the superiority of the latter, and show to what extent the architects of the Italian school must have been blinded by their system, when they fancied such wretched examples to be beautiful.

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