The temple architecture of ancient Greece and Rome, and how they reflected the structure of the societies from which they emerged.

Topics: Parthenon, Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece Pages: 9 (2475 words) Published: March 16, 2014
The temple architecture of ancient Greece and Rome, and how they reflected the structure of the societies from which they emerged. Jack Lehane Year 1
(1200 – 1500 words) 7th of January, 2013

Most of the remaining examples of ancient Greek architecture are in the form of temples, built to honour their gods, and have decorated exteriors but rather plain interiors. Few other examples remain as other structures were typically made of wood, plaster and mud and, as such, did not survive the test of time.

The temples were usually constructed of limestone and marble.1 Of post and lintel construction, these temples were typically rectilinear, and often supported by columns. These columns can be divided into three respective orders; Doric, Ionic and Corinthian, with each having their own specific attributes.2 The Greeks favoured the Doric and Ionic for their clean lines.

1. http://www.ehow.com/how_5526113_compare-contrast-greek-roman-architecture.html 2. Henri Stierlin, Greece; From Mycenae to the Parthenon, Taschen Press, First Edition, 2001. p. 52

The first attempt to establish a sanctuary for the Greek goddess Athena Parthenos in the Athenian Acropolis, Athens, now known as the older, or Pre-Parthenon, was destroyed by the Persians shortly after the Battle of Marathon, around 480 BCE. The intent of the present structure was to eradicate any humiliation associated with the Persian invasion and sack of Athens, suggesting a certain strength in society at the time.3

Built from 447 - 432 BCE, the Parthenon
has been described as “a marble beacon
from the past, the monument of all
monuments.”4 Twenty-two-thousand tons
of marble had been quarried by the time the
temple was finished. Brought down from
Mount Pentelicus, it was then transported
ten miles on oxen-drawn carts to Athens.5
The Parthenon was regarded in its prime as
the finest example of a Doric temple, due mainly to the refinement of already well established aspects of appeal.6

Typically, only one order was used in the construction of temples in certain areas; Doric in western and mainland Greece, and
Ionic on the coast of Asia Minor and in
the Aegean islands.7 The Parthenon is an
exception to this, however, as it contains
certain Ionic elements throughout its
structure also, making it unique. The
home to an Ionic frieze, the Parthenon
had two rooms, most likely in
accordance with the sun – one west-
facing that acted as a treasury, and a
second separate room with its door
facing east, used to contain the “cult
image, the gold and ivory Athena
Parthenos”, the Greek goddess of reason, intelligent activity, arts and literature.8 Horizontal aspects such as the architrave and the stylobate are corrected by means of entasis, so that they do not “sag” in the middle. Also, the corner columns stand closer and thicker than their neighbours, so that they do not appear frail against the sky.9 It is clear that the Greeks at the time were highly skilled in both construction and aesthetic design.

3. Henri Stierlin, Greece; From Mycenae to the Parthenon, Taschen Press, First Edition, 2001. p. 189 4. Robin Francis Rhodes, Architecture and Meaning on the Athenian Acropolis, Cambridge University Press, First Edition, 1998. p. 1 5. Bernard Ashmole, Architect and Sculptor in Classical Greece; The Wrightsman Lectures: Volume 6, Phaidon Press, First Edition, 1972. p. 94 6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_of_Hephaestus

7. A. W. Lawrence, Greek Architecture, Yale University Press, Fifth Edition, 1996. p. 77 8. http://www.greekmythology.com/Olympians/Athena/athena.html 9. Patrick Nuttgens, The Story of Architecture, Phaidon Press, Second Edition, 2004. p. 97 Doric architecture, further contributing to its aesthetic

Illustration 5: The Parthenon, Acropolis, Athens. 
Built from 427 – 424 BCE, the Temple of Athena Nike is the first fully Ionic structure to be built atop the Athenian Acropolis. As a result, certain differences exist between itself and...

Bibliography: 1. Henri Stierlin, Greece; From Mycenae to the Parthenon, Taschen Press, First Edition, 2001. p. 50
2
3. Leland M. Roth, Understanding Architecture; Its Elements, History, and Meaning, Westview Press, Second Edition, 2007. p. 239, fig. 11.27
4
5. Patrick Nuttgens, The Story of Architecture, Phaidon Press, Second Edition, 2004. p. 97, fig. 105
6
7. A. W. Lawrence, Greek Architecture, Yale University Press, Fifth Edition, 1996. p. 120, fig. 187
8
9. William L. MacDonald, The Pantheon; Design, Meaning and Progeny, Harvard University Press, Second Edition, 2002. p. 39, fig. 37
10
11. Joseph Rykwert, The Dancing Column; On Order in Architecture, The MIT Press, First
Edition, 1999
Press, Second Edition, 2002. p. 31, fig. 28
16
Press, Second Edition, 2002. p. 26
17
Press, Second Edition, 2002. p. 21
18.Leland M
Westview Press, Second Edition, 2007. p. 260p
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