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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
 

F. B. Tarbell, A History of Ancient Greek Art

Greek Architecture

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SYMEON THE NEW THEOLOGIAN

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When we compare the architecture of Greece with that of other countries, we must be struck with the remarkable degree in which the former adhered to established usage, both in the general plan of a building and in the forms and proportions of each feature. Some measure of adherence to precedent is indeed implied in the very existence of an architectural style. What is meant is that the Greek measure was unusual, perhaps unparalleled. Yet the following of established canons was not pushed to a slavish extreme. A fine Greek temple could not be built according to a hard and fast rule. While the architect refrained from bold and lawless innovations, he yet had scope to exercise his genius. The differences between the Parthenon and any other contemporary Doric temple would seem slight, when regarded singly; but the preeminent perfection of the Parthenon lay in just those skilfully calculated differences.

A Greek columnar building is extremely simple in form.[1] The outlines of an ordinary temple are those of an oblong rectangular block surmounted by a triangular roof. With a qualification to be explained presently, all the lines of the building, except those of the roof, are either horizontal or perpendicular. The most complicated Greek columnar buildings known, the Erechtheum and the Propylaea of the Athenian Acropolis, are simplicity itself when compared to a Gothic cathedral, with its irregular plan, its towers, its wheel windows, its multitudinous diagonal lines.

[1] The substance of this paragraph and the following is borrowed from Boutmy, "Philosophie de l'Architecture en Grece" (Paris, 1870).

 

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Three Millennia of Greek Literature


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Reference address : https://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/ancient-Greece/history-of-ancient-greek-art-13.asp