PYRAMIDS, PALACES & GREAT BIG WALLS -
- The Three Classical Architectural "Orders" Graphic.
DORIC c.630 B.C.
IONIC 550 B.C. CORINTHIAN 400 B.C.
Working largely in marble, the Greeks in their temples and public buildings
produced some of the world’s finest architecture. There were three styles, or “orders’
- the austere Doric; the light and elegant Ionic; and the more elaborate Corinthian. The Greeks used neither the arch nor the vault, but topped columns or walls with flat beams.
The oldest and simplest style - used in mainland Greece from the 7th century B.C. is the Doric. The magnificent Parthenon in Athens shows the massive strength and beauty to
which the Doric style lends itself.
Doric and Ionic differ mainly in the capitals, or molded decorations at the head of the columns. The Doric is topped with a square slab,
the ionic has decorative spiral
The Corinthian style is the most elaborate and richly decorated type of Greek capital. It dates from the 4th century. Corinthian columns were more slender than either the Doric or the ionic, and their
deeper basket-like capitals were carved with acanthus leaves. This style was extensively adopted by the Romans.
Kouros (Apollo) c. 530 BC, bronze casting, National Archaeological Museum,
Athens, Reproduction print.
| The serene spirit of Greece shines from this
Apollo, god of the intellect. Cast in bronze 2400 years ago, it was lost 400 years later and found again in
The major difference between Egyptian an Greek sculpture is in the free standing of the
figure. Openings are seen between the arms and side but more startling is the lack of supports to hold up the figure. Greek artists were now sculpting what they saw, rather than creating stylized forms from memory.
Kouros were sculpted figures of nude youths about life size who either represented Apollo or an ideal athlete.
Pericles in War Helmet, 5th century BC, sculpture, Reproduction photograph
In the 5th Century B.C., Athens was at its peak under Pericles. He was an aristocrat and an Athenian
imperialist who had a dream of a city that would be worthy of
its empire - a city which the allies of Athens would be proud to visit, and where they would see for themselves that the tribute
they paid had been expended in creating the most gracious
capital on earth. Pericles was also a democrat, at a time
when the idea that every freeborn adult male citizen should have a say in the
running of the state was a novel one. Most Greek
city-states had hitherto been run by groups of powerful aristocratic families or by single absolute rulers, or ‘tyrants.’ In 621 B.C. one Athenian lawgiver,
Draco, introduced a code of punishments which included the death penalty
for stealing a cabbage - thus making “Draconian’ a byword for extreme severity. One reason why a different form of government evolved in Athens was the fact that the city was primarily a naval power. Its war galleys were rowed by ordinary working men conscripted into the forces! who, since they contributed so much to the state, felt they should have a share in determining how it was run. At the same time the community of Athens was small enough for every citizen to make his voice heard. Fishermen, merchants, jewelers, potters and landowners met on equal terms in the governing assembly, and had equal say in discussions on all important matters. This interchange of ideas between men from all walks of life made Athens a very human
world. Not to show an interest in public affairs and
matters of state was considered so stupid that our word “idiot” derives from the Greek word meaning ‘a private citizen' — someone who attended only to his own needs and did not bother with those of the
Athens was a talkative town. It was ruled by its orators; Pericles became its leader because he was the best orator. The Age of Pericles was the culmination of the Classical period in Greek sculpture and architecture. Athens was safe and
prosperous~ and the arts were admired and loved as never before and seldom since.
Pericles is said to have had a deformed head which may
explain the helmet incorporated in his sculpture.
Mastoid Cup, pottery, Reproduction print
| Had to be drunk completely, no way to lay it down|
Silhouette of classic pottery shapes - 15 basic shapes,
Horsemen in the Panathenic Procession (Elgin Marble), detail
of Relief sculpture from west Parthenon, marble 39" High,
British Museum, London, Reproduction print.
|This print shows the detail of an interior marble frieze
taken from west side of the Parthenon, Athens. The frieze
around the inner wall depicts a procession occurring every
four years, in which the youth of Athens pay tribute to
Athena. The relief sculpture shows a multitude of figures
and horses; one of the most impressive sections depicts
horses and riders, sometimes four abreast. To sculpt this
much depth in the shallow space of a few inches took all the
skill that the Classical Greek sculptors could muster. Anatomy,
movement, rhythm, and a convincing suggestion of space are
all handled with superb control. The figures closest to the
viewer are most round; the second and third layers are
shallower; and the background is flat. Originally, the
frieze, like other parts of the Parthenon, was brightly
The Parthenon, 447-432 BC, marble architecture 200'
100' wide, Acropolis, Athens, Reproduction photograph.
| After the Persian invaders withdrew from Greece in
479 B.C., the Greeks swore not to rebuild the sanctuaries that had been destroyed, but to leave the ruins as a memorial of
their sacrilege. Thirty years later Pericles persuaded the Athenians
to cancel the oath and to initiate a vast building program
on the Acropolis, financing it with surplus funds
accumulated in the treasury. The first phase, completed
during the life of Pericles, included a monumental gateway,
the Propylaea, and a new temple of Athena to replace the one
that was still unfinished when the Persians sacked Athens in
The PARTHENON, as the temple has been known since Roman
times, was the work of the architects Ictinus and
Callicrates. Begun in 447 B.C., it must have been
substantially complete by 438 B.C. when the statue of the
goddess, Athena. was dedicated in it. The building accounts, which were inscribed on marble slabs and are still in part
preserved, show that work continued until 432 B.C.
The PARTHENON, was always meant to be imposing. Built on the
highest point of the Acropolis, (“High City” - place of refuge in times of war, later spiritual center of city) it
was considerably larger than most Doric temples and had eight columns across the front and seventeen along the sides ~ instead of the more usual six and
thirteen. Inside the
colonnade the central structure was divided by a cross wall
into two rooms of unequal size, each having a porch of six
columns. The smaller chamber, on the west, served as a
treasury, while the larger eastern room housed the gold and ivory statue of Athena some twelve meters high, made by the sculptor
Pheidias. The temple was constructed of marble
throughout was remarkable not only for the refinement of its design and the quality of its workmanship but also for the
unprecedented quantity of sculpture that adorned it.
The PARTHENON stood virtually intact for over two thousand years, although it was transformed into a Christian church and later into a mosque. Disaster struck in
1687 when a Venetian shell exploded the gunpowder that the besieged
Turkish garrison had stored in the building. From then on the condition of the temple and its surviving sculptures gradually deteriorated, so that their survival is largely due to Lord
Elgin, who rescued them from destruction by vandals. He brought the sculptures to England and eventually sold them to the British
government. They are now housed at the British Museum,
Alexander the Great and Philosopher, photocopy
| Alexander the Great (356-323 BC), was a
student of Aristotle, and the son of Philip of
Macedonia. Philip was assassinated during battle. Alexander
assumed leadership and began to assimilate conquered people.
He went to India and died on his return to Macedonia (N
Greece) in his 30s.
"Victorious Athlete Crowning Himself"
c 310 BC, Lysippos, Bronze sculpture, J Paul Getty Museum, Los
Angeles. Reproduction print
Venus de Milo, 2nd cent. BC, possibly Alexandros of Antioch
or Praxiteles, Greek, 6'10" high marble, Louvre, Paris.
| Cast using the "Lost Wax"
The Victorious Youth is a life-sized, bronze nude male
figure found in the 1960s in the sea off Fano on Italy's
Adriatic coast and acquired by the Getty Museum in 1977 -
provenance and date are in dispute by authorities
||The statue of Aphrodite of Melos
(left), also known as the Venus de Milo is an example of
Hellenistic art. Hellenistic art was art of all ages, from children to elders, unlike classical art where only middle aged people were sculpted. Hellenistic art was attractive
to the lower classes, like peasants, slaves, farmers, and
herdsmen, instead of the richer classes, similar to kings and rulers. Hellenistic art
displays naturalism, where the statue comes to life.
Expressed in the art is movement and objects
that are within. Another characteristic of
this style is that rather than the sculpture being aimed
solely toward beauty; Hellenistic art reveals expressions of ugliness, fat, and
age - more representative of how people really looked.
|The Aphrodite of Melos is made of marble and represents the goddess Aphrodite. This statue had earned it’s name the Venus de
Milo or Venus de Melos, from its discovery in 1820 by a peasant on the Greek island of Melos. The statue shows Aphrodite semi-nude, with a robe wrapped around her legs. For hundreds of years the statue had remained buried in an underground cavern
which caused significant damage. It was found in two parts, re-placed
together and sent to France. The Marquis de Rivière had brought the statue
as a gift for Louis XVIII of France. Pieces of arms and a pedestal with an inscription, were also found in the cave, but these were later lost.
The sculptor of the statue is unknown but the
name of the Greek artist Alexandros of Antioch was said to have
been inscribed on the now-lost block of stone on the pedestal.
Scholars suggest however that the pedestal and statue may not
have been one originally. Some scholars have attributed the work of the statue to Praxiteles. It is said that it was sculpted around the second century B.C.