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.
The Greeks invented, besides those already mentioned, another Order-the Corinthian. In the early examples of this Order which remain, we see evidences of the same processes of experimentation as tended to the development of the Doric Order, although it remained for the later Romans to give this type its most definite character. These Orders may be considered as successive steps in enriching and refining the effect of the column and entablature, along with their accompanying mouldings.
The Corinthian Order is distinguished from the other Orders by its principal characteristic, the capital, which is formed of two rows of acanthus leaves placed against a round vase or bracket, and which, with the abacus supported on the angles by volutes, is radically different from anything we have before seen.
Origin of the Corinthian Order. As the importation from other countries of the ideas on which the two first Greek Orders, especially the Doric, were founded, has been fairly proved, it seems less unreasonable to believe that the idea of the Corinthian capital was also taken from Egypt, although the Greeks attribute its invention to an artist of their own country, Callimachus, an architect, painter, and sculptor, who exercised his art about the year 437 B. C.
Vitruvius tells a legend or story of the invention of the Corinthian capital. A young girl of Corinth having died, her nurse placed in the tomb a bracket on which were set objects most dear to her mistress, and for protection from the rain she also placed a large tile over the bracket. A wild acanthus, whose roots were underneath the offering, spread its leaves around the outline until the tile curved their tops over and outward. Callimachus, finding the forms produced by this happening most decorative, applied them to his creation of a new Order of architecture.
This capital was more probably developed from the lotus bell-shaped Egyptian form, the principal difference between the two being in their height and proportions. In both we have a simple bell-shaped form ornamented by local varieties of leafage, the one taken from the lotus plant, and the other from the more spiny acanthus.
In the Temple of the Winds, the capital shows a combination of what is known as the "water leaf" with Greek acanthus leaves covering the lower portion of the capital and superposed upon their face. This water leaf suggests to a considerable extent the form of lotus used by the Egyptians in the capitals of some of their columns. The derivation of the spinals or volutes, used as they are on the angles of this capital, is not SO obvious.
It has also been suggested that this form of capital came from the custom of ornamenting, on gala occasions, the capitals of the Ionic column with flowers and foliage, which we know were often festooned and draped between and around these columns. It is more probable, however, that this capital may have been suggested by the decorated Greek Ionic form; the decoration with leafage of the bell-shaped portion being merely an exaggeration of the decorated necking employed in some examples of the use of the Ionic Order. The leaves in the capital are frequently drawn in the conventional outline manner shown in Plate XLVII, merely for ease in rendering; but they should actually be treated after the spiny fashion of the acanthus leaf, shown in Fig. 69.
Fundamental Rule to be Observed in Making the Corinthian Capital. It is most important, in order to obtain the best effect with the Corinthian capital, that the leafage and growth of the leaves, and the form of the bell, should follow sharply and continue the outline of the column shaft up to the point where they are allowed to curve off under the volutes and abacus of the capital. This curve in itself should be carefully arranged so that its outline will suggest the firm support that is essential in order to obtain the best effect. If the leaves project beyond the line of the shaft at the bottom of the capital, the outline is bulging, unnatural, and most unpleasant to the eye.
Examples of Corinthian Capitals. The Corinthian order offers in Greece but a very small number of different types. We find that Ictinus used this order in the Temple of Apollo at Bassae or Phigalia about 431 B. C, for one isolated column placed between two shafts of the Ionic order; and therefore this instance, except for the interest given by the details of the capital, is of little value. The abacus of this capital, with its wide, plain face ornamented with a geometrical design picked out in color, is very crude in treatment; and the fluting ends at the neck-as will be seen by referring to Fig. 70-in a manner similar to that on the column of the Monument of Lysicrates. The capital from the Temple of Apollo Didymaeus at Miletus, an Ionic temple, is shown in Fig. 71, and is a much more refined example of a very similar Corinthian treatment, but showing that a more definite form is here assumed. In this example, the rather peculiar treatment of the abacus on the four corner angles should be noted. We also find that the Corinthian Order was employed upon the half-columns attached to the interior wall of the Phil-ippeion at Olympia, of the date of 338 B. C.
Fig. 70. Capital from Temple of Apollo at Phigalia.
Besides these Greek uses of the Corinthian capital, two of which are shown in both plan and elevation in Figs. 70 and 71, there are but three others, and these all well known and more perfect, if widely different, examples-the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates at Athens, B. C. 335; the column from the porch of the Tower of the Winds, B.C. 100-35; and, the most perfect of all, that of the Tholos at Epidauros, belonging to the 4th century B. C, and attributed to Polycleitus the younger. This capital, while the most perfect, is also the earliest known example of the Corinthian column employed under an entablature. The Order used in the magnificent Temple of Zeus at Athens, while Greek in design, was finished under the influence of the Roman occupancy of Greece, being completed by Hadrian in 117 A. D., and is in many ways more closely allied with the later form of the Corinthian capital as developed by the Romans than it is with any of the pure Greek examples, with the possible exception of the one at Epidauros. The Corinthian Order was left in a very undeveloped state by the Greeks, and the three instances just named are the only ones that may be considered as presenting it in anywhere near a complete and definite form. The columns of these three examples are shown at their full height in Plate XLVIII, where they are arranged so as to be easily compared for the differences in the proportions of the shafts and their entasis, as well as for the purpose of contrasting the different Greek types of the capital itself. In all three, the shaft of the column is fluted; and in only one-that of the Temple of the Winds-is it left without a base, the other two showing a variation of the "Attic" base. These Orders must be separately described, inasmuch as there are certain peculiarities in each that may be attributed in part to the individual requirements of the separate problems involved.