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.
We find in Egypt, at the catacombs of Beni-Hassan, the rough, primitive type of the Doric Order; and it may be from here that the Greeks received their inspiration. It is sufficient to compare the design of the column at Beni-Hassan, which we may call pro-Doric (Fig.31), with a primitive form of the Greek Doric column-one taken from the Temple of Corinth, (Fig. 39) for example-in order to make plain the reasons for this allegation. It is true that, even if the Greeks borrowed the idea of the Doric Order from the Egyptians, they transformed it by the changes they made until it was glorified into a type almost absolutely original.
The oldest and heaviest of the three Greek Orders was the Doric, which was also, so far as the column itself was concerned, the simplest of them all. It combines at the same time solidity and strength with what proved to be the most subtle and delicate refinements of outline that architecture has known. This Order may be considered as representing, par excellence, the best efforts of the Greek builders. It is certainly representative of the most perfect expression of the Greek spirit, which we find is exemplified even by the curve of the echinus used in the capital of this Order.
The Grecian Doric Order, so far as the column is concerned, was beautifully simple, and, as used by the Classic builders, attained a great effect of grandeur and dignity. This is well shown in the Temple of Theseus, the most complete remains of a Greek Doric temple, which is shown in the illustration (Fig. 51). As we have seen was natural from its derivation, no base was used with this column. The thickness of its shaft in comparison with its height, along with the necessary narrow spacing of the columns, did not seem to require any such feature.
Differences in the Examples of the Doric Order. The great differences which we find in the general proportions and parts of the existing examples of the Doric Order, plainly show the experiments of the Greek artists in their endeavor to arrive at an ideal, or even a satisfactory, type form. Thus we find that the height of the column itself varies from about four and one-half diameters to seven diameters, while the diameter at the top of the shaft varies from six-tenths to eight and one-quarter tenths of the diameter at the base. In general, we find that in the earlier examples the columns are much thicker in proportion to their height, and that there was also much more difference between the diameter at the base and at the neck than exists in those of a later date.
Fig. 51. Temple of Theseus, Athens.
Order of the Parthenon. The Order of the Parthenon at Athens (Fig. 45, and Plate XXXVII) is held to be the most beautiful example of the Doric Order. The columns, without a base, rest immediately upon a stylobate consisting of three high steps of Pentelic marble. The shaft, slightly swelling, has twenty shallow flutings, narrowing gradually from bottom to top, as does the column itself, and separated by sharp edges, or arrises. The column, too, is most perfect in diameter relation to height.
In the Parthenon the columns are five and a-half diameters, or eleven modules, in height. These proportions are also those of the columns of the Temple of Theseus and the Doric columns in the Propylaea or entrance to the Acropolis at Athens; but not all the examples of the Greek Doric present columns of the same proportions.
Gradual Changes in the Proportions of the Doric Order. We find that, beginning with the seventh century B. C, when the column shaft was still clumsy and uncouth, the proportions afterwards grow gradually more elegant; and, at the same time that the columns tend towards a form more slender, the entablature grows less heavy.
Among the temple buildings, the most ancient are also the crudest. The height of the entablature is then about two-fifths that of the column. Afterwards, as in the Temple of Athena on the island of AEgina, the Propylaea, the Temple of Theseus, and the Parthenon, the entablatures are about one-third the height of the column; while in the Temple of Zeus at Nemea, which belongs to the commencement of the decadence, the entablature height is only a quarter of the column height.
Column Entasis. In these Orders, the upper diameter is made quite considerably less than the lower diameter, and the column is "tapered" or "swelled" in outline. It thus represents an inclined profile with an outline tapering or swelling from the lower to the upper diameter. This profile is generally given a form slightly curved, due to an "entasis" of the middle part, but sometimes the two diameters are joined by a straight line. The smaller and larger diameters, although variable, have a certain relation that is followed in every case, changing the outline of the column and rendering it more or less curved.
In the old Temple of Corinth, the diminution of the upper part equals one-fourth a diameter; in the Temple of Poseidon at Paestum, it is one-third; in the Temple of Theseus, the Parthenon, and the
PLATE XXXVII. (A reproduction at small size of Portfolio Plate XXXVII).
Sectional View through the Propylaea, the Ornamented Approach to the Parthenon, at Athens. Showing Greek Doric, and Ionic columns of the Fifth Century B. C-Restored by E. Ulmann.
Temple of Zeus, two-ninths; in the Temple of Zeus at Nemea, one-fifth; and in the Portico of Philip one-sixth.
To trace the growth and gradual refinement of the proportions of the first Greek Order, it is helpful to have an idea of the comparative date and column dimensions of the best known examples; and for this purpose it becomes necessary to revert to the unit of the measure-the diameter of the columns at the base.