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.
A mere glance at the architecture of the Romans shows that they depended upon richness of ornamentation and tremendous size to make an effect upon the beholder. They found that the Corinthian Order proved to be much more valuable for this purpose than the simpler Greek architectural forms; and, with the possible exception of the Composite Order, it was this style that the Romans evidently most delighted to use.
Existing examples of the Corinthian Order far exceed in number any of the remains of other types; and it must be acknowledged that, taken at its best, there are Roman examples of this form of column and capital that excel the earlier Greek experiments. This suggested comparison must be qualified by the further statement, however, that there is no instance of what may be considered an exactly parallel treatment of the Corinthian style by the two nations, inasmuch as the Greek examples of the Tower of the Winds and the Monument of Lysicrates are quite radically different from the succeeding Roman Corinthian. It must also be said that there is no Roman example which equals in delicacy, refinement, or strength, that used in the Tholos at Epidauros, a pure Greek type.
As already intimated, the Corinthian Order may be considered as typically Roman in spirit and development, in the same way that the Greek' Doric may be considered typically Creek. The final development of the Roman Corinthian capital differs materially from the three well-known Greek examples; indeed, the only features they possess in common are the character of the leaves used in covering the bell outline of the capital, and the general arrangement of the capital itself. The foliage varies greatly in the different examples. In much of the Roman work it is neither as decorative, as conventional, nor as refined as in Greek examples, and generally corresponds more nearly with the natural forms.
The capital is the most distinguishing feature of the Corinthian Order, and it is always first considered in any description of this style of architecture. In general it may be said that the Roman Corinthian capital is based upon the form used in the Temple of Jupiter Olympus at Athens. (See Plate LII).
The great confusion naturally attending the erection of buildings by the Roman Emperors, though executed wholly by Greek artists, architects, and workmen, makes it somewhat difficult to establish a dividing line between Greek and Roman work in certain well-known architectural monuments. The capital from the Temple of Jupiter Olympus is an instance in evidence. This building is variously termed Greek or Roman by different authorities, according to their own personal leanings. It has finally seemed best to include the Corinthian Order from this temple (sometimes called the Temple or Aqueduct of Hadrian) as Roman work, although it was undoubtedly carried out and executed by Greeks, and that, too, at a period when their native taste cannot be supposed to have been much affected by Roman influence. Nevertheless, this individual example is so nearly allied to the later Roman treatment that it may be considered along with their form of the Corinthian capital rather than with the other-and very different-examples which we have already found in Greece itself.
It must not be forgotten, however, that this Order is of Greek workmanship; and so, historically, it occupies a position midway between the earlier Greek experiments and the Order that the Romans later carried to so great a degree of perfection. Not only does this apply to the capital-in which the awkward carrying out of the upper plinth or abacus to a sharp point on the corner should be noted-but also to the entablature itself, which later it may be interesting to compare with that used on the Monument of Lysicrates, along with some of the later Roman entablatures.
PLATE L1I. (A reproduction at small size of Portfolio Plate LII).
There are only two types of bases used with the Corinthian column by the Romans. Both of these types are shown in Fig. 126. At A is shown the base moulding from the Temple of Hadrian at Athens; and at C, the form given by Palladio. This latter example may be taken as the most nearly typical form of Corinthian usage; those on the Basilica of Antoninus and Faustina and the Arch of Constantine, for example, are even simpler, being the same as the Palladian Ionic bases shown at C in Fig. 122. More elaborate forms, but forms that are rarely used to-day, probably because the modern Corinthian Order seldom equals in size the Roman type to which the many members of these bases are especially suited, are shown at B and D in Fig. 126, the first being from the Temple of Saturn, and the second from the Order of Vignola.
While it has already been said that the chronological sequence of Roman architecture is not materially important in following its process of development, still it is instructive to trace as nearly as possible the date-relation of the different examples, as this will help more or less to show the development and decline of the style in the different Roman periods., Some of the later Roman architecture is as pure as the earlier work; and some of the earlier work is as debased as most of that done during the third century. As a rule 'the Roman architecture of about the period of Augustus is the most refined, but during the reigns of both Trajan and Hadrian, there was evidenced a Renaissance or tendency to return to the beauty and purity of the earlier period.
Temple of Jupiter Olympus, Athens. It is well, then, to remember that the Temple of Jupiter Olympus at Athens, begun about 170 B. C, the Order from which is shown in Plate LII, was finished about 117 A. D., by Hadrian. The design of the capital was probably determined at a date near the beginning of the work, possibly by Cossutius, although it is likely that the workmanship of many of these capitals belongs to a much later date. The columns of this temple were 58 feet in height.