The extreme simplicity which characterizes the general form of a
Greek building extends also to its sculptured and painted ornaments. In the
Doric style these are very sparingly used; and even the Ionic style, though more
luxuriant, seems reserved in comparison with the wealth of ornamental detail in
a Gothic cathedral. Moreover, the Greek ornaments are simple in character.
Examine again the hawk's-beak, the egg-and-dart, the leaf-and- dart, the
astragal, the guilloche, the honeysuckle, the meander or fret. These are almost
the only continuous patterns in use in Greek architecture. Each consists of a
small number of elements recurring in unvarying order; a short section is enough
to give the entire pattern. Contrast this with the string-course in the nave of
the Cathedral of Amiens, where the motive of the design undergoes constant
variation, no piece exactly duplicating its neighbor, or with the intricate
interlacing patterns of Arabic decoration, and you will have a striking
illustration of the Greek love for the finite and comprehensible.