Greek and Roman Architecture


The Greeks thought of their Gods as having the same needs as human
beings, they believed that the Gods needed somewhere to live on Earth. Temples
were built as the gods\' earthly homes. The basic design of temples developed
from the royal halls of the Maycenaean Age. A Mycenaean palace consisted of a
number of buildings often more than one story high, grouped around a central
courtyard. It was brightly painted, both inside and out. In each palace there
was a large hall called a megaron, where the king held court and conducted state
business. Little remains of the megaron at Mycenae. This reconstruction is
based on the remains from other palaces, which would have been similar.
The Romans took and borrowed a lot of things from the Greek culture.
For example, the took the Greek Gods and renamed them. They also took the
styles of Greek temples, but they changed them some. The temple was rectangular,
with a gabled roof, with a frontal staircase giving access to its high platform.
They used mainly the Corinthian style, but they also made combinations, for
instance the Corinthian-Ionic style. The Romans also added a lot of details and
decorations to their temples. The Romans also made what became the very common
round, domed temple. The main temple of a Roman city was the capitolium. The
Pantheon, the famous temple in Rome, was a sample for some of the modern day
cathedrals and churches.
The Classical Period Temples became much larger and more elaborate.
Parthenon, one of the most famous structures ever, was created during that
period. The Greeks held many religious festivals in honour of their gods. The
purpose of festivals was to please the gods and convince them to grant the
people\'s wishes. Such as making the crops grow or bringing victory in war. In
addition to religious events athletic competitions and theatrical performances
took place at festivals too..
The early Greek architecture, from about 3000 BC to 700 BC, used mainly
the post and lintel, or post and beam, system. Their main building material was
marble. Classic Greek architecture is made up of three different orders that
are most seen in their temples: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. All three had
the same components, but had different types of details. The orders are known
mostly by their column style. The Corinthian order was not as widely used as
Doric and Ionic. It was fancier than the others, and had a lot more detail. The
Greeks only used one order on one building, they never mixed. The basic temple
followed these same rules. It was very simple with a rectangular inner chamber
and a roof with shallow gables. The temple stood on a platform with three steps
leaving rows of columns, sometimes double rows, that helped support the roof.
The column which was used as either a part of the structure or as an
dornament, is the basic element in the Greek architecture. The oldest, dating
back to about 600 B.C. is the Doric. Perhaps the most basic temples were of the
Doric order. Doric architecture was known for being used by the Spartans.
Normally, standing right on the floor, the shaft is made of a series of drums
which are rounded, doweled together, tapered upward and fluted, usually twenty
times. On top of the shaft sits a two part capital carved in a single block.
The bottom is the cushion or echinus and the top is a flat square slab called
the abacus. There is a natural ring where the capital and shaft meet and this
is emphasized by the addition of several carved rings. The column height is
four to six and on half times the diameter at the base of the shaft. The oldest
Doric columns to survive intact, seven of them, are from the temple of Apollo at
Corinth. Each shaft, over twenty feet high, is cut from a solid limestone block
which was surfaced with a stucco made of marble dust. While the columns seem
simple and stumpy, the sharp ridged fluting is evidence of a high degree of the
mastery of stone carving. Further they are bellied slightly at the centre which
keeps them from seeming too dumpy. The vertical columns supported beans
called architraves. To form a ceiling, other beans were laid across the building
with their ends on the architraves. The ends of these beams would be channelled
to make triglyphs. On top of this, another beam would be placed for the
overhanging rafters. These beams are referred to as mutules. The roofs were
finished with flat gables called pediments. A