This section is from the book "Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry, And Building", by James C. et al. Also available from Amazon: Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry And Building.
Of ancient buildings, the only ones which have come down to us in any sort of preservation are the temples built for the religious worship of the various peoples. All their domestic architecture was evidently of such an ephemeral character that it has long since disappeared. It is therefore evident that religion, of whatever form, has been directly responsible for the growth of architecture to the monumental style to which it has since attained, as these nations might otherwise never have invented for their ordinary shelters, or even for the palaces of their kings and rulers, the impressive forms that have survived. But, more than this, we know that many of the different parts of architecture had at one time a direct religious significance and meaning. Indeed, there seems to have been an especial pride evinced in adding this element of symbolism to the architectural forms in common use.
Fig. 31. Egyptian Rock-Cut Temple.
The Greek temples, in which the Order as we study it to-day first assumed its definite form, were as a rule the simplest and most elemental kind of buildings-a rectangle longer than its width, with two roof planes leaning upon each other and forming a ridge at the center with a gable at each end.
Derivation of Greek Temple. The Temple of Diana Propylaea at Eleusis is an instance of a temple that shows the characteristics of Greek architecture at its simplest and best. The elevation and plan of the porch, as well as the details of its ornament and construction, are both well shown in the two illustrating plates. The entrance porch (Plate XXXV), indicates a close relationship and a possibly direct derivation from the Egyptian rock-cut temple (Fig. 31), as the drawings show; and its plan (Fig. 32) displays the simplest use of the Doric column in antis, or placed between the two pilasters (antae)that are formed on the end of the side walls of the building.
The plain outside enclosing wall of the Egyptian and the early Greek temples was soon replaced by an exterior row of columns, and the stone wall placed inside these, as in the plan of the Temple of Theseus (Fig. 33), so that only the central portion of the building was actually enclosed.
The Greek columned temple passed rapidly through many stages of development until it reached in the Parthenon its highest type; and still the plan (Fig. 34) shows how little it has changed in its essentials from the small Temple of Diana Propyhea; but by replacing the plain exterior side and rear walls by a single or double row of columns, a great addition has been made to the impressive exterior effect of the whole.
This change must be recalled when studying the entablature of the Greek Doric order, as it will help to explain the characteristics that go to make up the frieze and cornice, if we remember that it probably first crowned a wall and not a colonnade.
Fig. 32. Plan of Temple of Diana Propylaea at Eleusis.
PLATE XXXV. (A reproduction at small size of Portfolio Plate XXXV).
Development of the Column. In these Greek temples, wholly of stone construction the spacing and size of the columns, as well as the development, artistic and structural, of their buildings must first have been determined by the various considerations of material. As the entire Greek system of architecture was based upon the principle of the lintel (Frontispiece), we know that the spacing of the column was governed by the length of stone blocks which they were able to quarry and place across and upon the columns with some assurance of their supporting the weight of the roof; and so also the size of the column itself was probably first determined more by the ease of quarrying the blocks of stone of which they were composed, and of handling and placing them in position, than by any great regard for their artistic effect, although this undoubtedly immediately followed.
Fig. 33. Plan of Temple of Theseus, Athens.
Fig. 34. Plan of Parthenon, Athens.
In the Egyptian and Greek temples, the column developed peculiarities of form that were evidently demanded by the higher artistic cultivation of the people. In the early examples its purpose had been purely structural, but later on it was used to produce an important part of the effect of the building, and while still utilized for structural purposes, it was treated as a decorative unit, until finally the column (or rather the Order) becomes the very basis of Classic architectural design.
Rules of Classic Architecture, Their Use and Misuse. Classic architecture is distinguished from the later and more transitory styles, such as developed during the Romanesque and Gothic periods, by the fact that the various forms composing its parts have been reduced to a fairly definite set of rules.
No other style of architecture has been so consistently developed or has so well stood the test of time. But it must always be remembered that the "rules" to which we have now reduced the Classic Orders, are not to be considered as the principles upon which they were first designed,, Rather, these rules and systems of proportioning the details of the Classic Orders of architecture have been invented by enthusiastic theorists and students of later times to fit the old examples. The people who erected these ancient monuments understood no such rules, but rather created their work under the direct influence of a vital artistic instinct and life of which to-day we are imitating the mere empty forms. It must be thoroughly realized, therefore, that in reducing the Orders to the understanding of individuals of a different civilization by a mere "rule of thumb," much of their subtlety and true spirit must have been lost, and that the rule only suggests to us a mere outline or general idea of the true beauty of any one of these Orders. So, while we may not hope to equal or approach their original perfection, experience and constant study may be relied upon to suggest the principles which underlie them and which they represent, and so to help us to produce individual refinements and variations in a modern and therefore truly vital spirit.