Greece Architecture Part 1

While in Cretan-Mycenaean art architecture is essentially civil and military, in Greek art after 1000 it is essentially religious. That is, the temple originates and develops, both of the Doric order and of the Ionic order. And around the temple the sanctuary is formed, which in the most sacred places of Greece (Olympia, Delphi, Delos, Epidaurus, Eleusis) periodically becomes the center of attraction and gathering of people for religious ceremonies, for gymnastic competitions, for the musical and poetic certami. In the sanctuaries, around the temples of the divinities, were the various constructions relating to worship and competitions, were the votive gifts, that is a crowd of statues and small buildings, the so-called treasures, erected by individual states to contain what these states and their respective citizens gave to the divinity. So that these Hellenic sanctuaries, which are of a national character (e.g. that of Olympia), or regional (e.g. that of Delos), or of a single people (e.g. that of the Acropolis of Athens), they constitute an element of primary importance for the development of art, especially architectural and sculptural. The shape of the temple, which is similar to a house or the noblest part of it (mégaron), presupposes a change in religious beliefs, that is, it presupposes the change of the aniconic cult (stone, column, tree, various symbols) into anthropomorphic cult. Just as the god assumed the appearance of a human body of ideal beauty, so the house of the god had to assume a sumptuous appearance.

It is a prevailing opinion that the Greek temple developed from the shape of the megaronof the Mycenaean palace; this derivation is not accepted by all, and there are those who consider the origin of the Greek temple completely unknown. In any case, the development of this is gradual and slow, and sometimes, in order to be better enlightened on its primitive forms, we are forced to make use of architectural monuments even of advanced age, in which characters of delayed conservation are noted. And indeed for the first phases of the temple we lack direct documentation, since the primitive sacred buildings were made of caducous material, that is, of wood and raw bricks (only later did they resort to terracotta and metal sheet coverings), and also because several of the early temples decayed, and were replaced with larger, stone ones.

Some trace, albeit faint, has nevertheless remained; so in the sanctuary of Artemide Ortia, in Sparta, the scant remains of a temple dating back to the century have been recognized. IX or X a. C.: it is a construction with unbaked brick walls on a stone base, divided by a row of columns or pillars into two very long naves.

According to shoefrantics, a building of great importance for the study of the primitive temple is the temple A of the Patélla in Prinià (Crete): it is a cell (9.70 m long) with a simple vestibule; the facade of the temple has two passages, with three pillars; the cell is divided into two naves by two columns. These characteristics, the arrangement of the cell in two naves and the exaggerated length of the cell itself, are elements of archaism that are found in buildings of the century. VI: thus, for example, in a tuff building of the Acropolis of Athens, in the Apollónion of Thérmos (Aetolia), in the most ancient temple of Locri Epizefirî, in the so-called “basilica” of Pesto, in the buleuterio of Olympia.

But add another detail of no slight importance to the temple of Prinià, that is the roof, not a double sloping roof with triangular spaces (the pediments), as is usually the case in Greek rectangular temples, but flat, with a terrace, precisely as in the Mycenaean mégara. Next to the form of a cell temple preceded by a vestibule (pronaos) was the form of a simple cell temple; an example of this type is offered by the Püthion of Gortina (Crete), in its primitive form of a cell with a square plan (14.45 m by 16.30 m).

The literary tradition also informs us of the persistence of certain structural characters, belonging to past times; thus Pausanias (III, 17, 2) informs us of the temple of Athena Chalkioíkos, or of the bronze house, due to the architect and sculptor Gitiada of the century. VI, where the walls were obviously covered with bronze sheets with evident reconnection with the pre-Hellenic palaces, of which an echo is in the abode of Alcinoo, king of the Phaeacians (Odyssey, VII, 84 ff.).

Up to now, in these first manifestations of sacred architecture, the two architectural orders, the Doric and the Ionic, have not been seen fixed in their specific elements. The Doric order develops essentially in the Peloponnese, and is adopted especially on the coasts of southern Italy and in Sicily, outside of Locri, where an Ionic temple once stood; the Ionian order, on the other hand, is found in Asia Minor and in the neighboring islands of the Aegean. The column in the main degree, but also the architrave, distinguish the Doric from the Ionic temples (see order: Architecture). Compared to each other, the Doric buildings show vigor and simplicity, while the Ionic ones are slender and elegant, so much so that the ancients saw in these a female character, in those a male one; therefore it is natural that, sometimes in function of architectural members, male figures were chosen, the so-called Telamons or Atlantes, for the Doric buildings (as in the Agrigento temple of Zeus), and female figures, the so-called kórai or caryatids, for the buildings of the Ionic order (as in the Sifnî treasury in Delphi, in the Erechtheion of the Acropolis of Athens).

Greece Architecture 1

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