Doric Columns and the Other Orders

01
of 09
Doric Columns of the Parthenon

Parthenon from the West
Parthenon from the West: Doric Columns of the Parthenon|The Column|The Doric Order|Echinus and Abacus|Parthenon and Column Proportions|Optical Illusions of the Columns and Parthenon|Corinthian Capital|Ionic Capital|Column Technical Terms and Quiz. Courtesy of Wikipedia

"For Dorus, the son of Hellen, and the Nymph Orseis, reigned over the whole of Achaia and Peloponnesus, and built at Argos, an ancient city, on a spot sacred to Juno, a temple, which happened to be of this [sc. Doric] order."
-Vitruvius IV

Today, almost two and a half millennia after the completion of that most perfect Doric structure, the Parthenon, one particular element of classical architecture continues to transform many ordinary structures and office buildings into impressive monuments: the column.

  1. Doric Columns of the Parthenon
  2. The Column
  3. The Doric Order
  4. Echinus and Abacus
  5. Parthenon and Column Proportions
  6. Optical Illusions of the Columns and Parthenon
  7. Corinthian Capital
  8. Ionic Capital
  9. Column Technical Terms and Quiz

Studying Roman Art? Learn These Terms About the Greek Orders

02
of 09
The Column

Column
Part of the Doric Column: Doric Columns of the Parthenon|The Column|The Doric Order|Echinus and Abacus|Parthenon and Column Proportions|Optical Illusions of the Columns and Parthenon|Corinthian Capital|Ionic Capital|Column Technical Terms and Quiz. Clipart.com

For the Greeks and Romans, the column, although obviously ornamental, was also structural, since it supported the roof. There are five types of classical columns, the earliest (dating to about 600 B.C.) was the Doric, followed by Ionic, Corinthian, Composite, and Tuscan (16th Century). The Greeks preferred the Doric and Ionic styles; the Romans, the more ornate Corinthian or the combination style known as Composite.

Columns could be made by stacking drums, but many of the Roman columns were made of single pieces with the fluting left off. If made of porphyry or other hard materials, these columns would be polished. The Romans also increased the height of the columns by mounting them on pedestals. Romans also used columns as buttresses.

  1. Doric Columns of the Parthenon
  2. The Column
  3. The Doric Order
  4. Echinus and Abacus
  5. Parthenon and Column Proportions
  6. Optical Illusions of the Columns and Parthenon
  7. Corinthian Capital
  8. Ionic Capital
  9. Column Technical Terms and Quiz

03
of 09
The Doric Order

Doric Order
Doric Order: Doric Columns of the Parthenon | The Column | The Doric Order | Echinus and Abacus | Parthenon and Column Proportions | Optical Illusions of the Columns and Parthenon | Corinthian Capital | Ionic Capital | Column Technical Terms and Quiz. Clipart.com

The terms Doric, Ionic, et al., are also the names of the orders of classical architecture. The order refers to the column plus its top and bottom. The base of the Doric column was the floor, whereas other orders had an extra piece. The Doric order includes metopes (where there might be sculpted drawings of history, myths, and religious events) which are separated by triglyphs. In other orders this area, the , might be covered by continuous reliefs uninterrupted by the triglyphs. Other scenes might be displayed in the pediment, the triangular area within the cornice.

  1. Doric Columns of the Parthenon
  2. The Column
  3. The Doric Order
  4. Echinus and Abacus
  5. Parthenon and Column Proportions
  6. Optical Illusions of the Columns and Parthenon
  7. Corinthian Capital
  8. Ionic Capital
  9. Column Technical Terms and Quiz

04
of 09
Echinus and Abacus

Doric Capital
Doric Capital: Doric Columns of the Parthenon | The Column | The Doric Order | Echinus and Abacus | Parthenon and Column Proportions | Optical Illusions of the Columns and Parthenon | Corinthian Capital | Ionic Capital | Column Technical Terms and Quiz. CC Flickr User Elsie esq.'s photostream

In addition to being the earliest, and the style used in the Parthenon, the Doric column is also the simplest. Not only does it stand on the bare floor, but it is topped by a plain capital (a convex disk [called an echinus] and a square block [called an abacus] formed from a single piece of marble) instead of the intricate scroll work of the Ionic or elaborate acanthus leaves of the Corinthian. Just beneath the echinus is the neck of the column, the hypotrachelion, a continuation of the column but separated by indentations and decorated with parallel, horizontal rings. The abacus holds up the , a four-sided stone beam reaching from one pillar to the next, which, together with the frieze and cornice forms what's called the entablature.

The central part of the column, called the shaft, was made of separate circular (drum) pieces joined together in the center. The exterior of the Doric shaft has (traditionally, 20) vertical carved ridges, referred to as fluting.

  1. Doric Columns of the Parthenon
  2. The Column
  3. The Doric Order
  4. Echinus and Abacus
  5. Parthenon and Column Proportions
  6. Optical Illusions of the Columns and Parthenon
  7. Corinthian Capital
  8. Ionic Capital
  9. Column Technical Terms and Quiz

05
of 09
Parthenon and Column Proportions

Ionic Column Base
Ionic Column Base:Doric Columns of the Parthenon|The Column|The Doric Order|Echinus and Abacus|Parthenon and Column Proportions|Optical Illusions of the Columns and Parthenon|Corinthian Capital|Ionic Capital|Column Technical Terms and Quiz. Clipart.com

Mathematics and proportion determine size and shape of the columns. According to Vitruvius, a Roman engineer for both Julius Caesar and Augustus, the masculine seeming Doric column's diameter-to-height ratio is based on the relationship between foot length and height in a man; whereas the slenderer Ionic column diameter-to-height ratio is based on the foot length-to-height ratio in a woman:

"As they wished to erect this temple with columns, and had not a knowledge of the proper proportions of them, nor knew the way in which they ought to be constructed, so as at the same time to be both fit to carry the superincumbent weight, and to produce a beautiful effect, they measured a man's foot, and finding its length the sixth part of his height, they gave the column a similar proportion, that is, they made its height, including the capital, six times the thickness of the shaft, measured at the base. Thus the Doric order obtained its proportion, its strength, and its beauty, from the human figure."

  1. Doric Columns of the Parthenon
  2. The Column
  3. The Doric Order
  4. Echinus and Abacus
  5. Parthenon and Column Proportions
  6. Optical Illusions of the Columns and Parthenon
  7. Corinthian Capital
  8. Ionic Capital
  9. Column Technical Terms and Quiz

06
of 09
Optical Illusions of the Columns and Parthenon

Parthenon Floor View
Parthenon Floor View: Doric Columns of the Parthenon|The Column|The Doric Order|Echinus and Abacus|Parthenon and Column Proportions|Optical Illusions of the Columns and Parthenon|Corinthian Capital|Ionic Capital|Column Technical Terms and Quiz. Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia

Although they may appear identical, the columns around the peripteral (surrounded on all sides by columns) temple of the Parthenon are not uniform and straight. There is even an interior section of the Parthenon where Doric columns give way to Ionic. On the outside, there are 17 columns along the lengths and eight along the width. The four corner columns are thicker by 1/14 in order to avoid looking weak from a distance.

The Greeks developed an augmentation technique known as entasis to avoid an optical illusion caused by the shaft's fluting (parallel vertical lines). In a tall structure, like the Parthenon, such lines appear concave. To compensate, the Greek architects made the columns slightly convex.

  1. Doric Columns of the Parthenon
  2. The Column
  3. The Doric Order
  4. Echinus and Abacus
  5. Parthenon and Column Proportions
  6. Optical Illusions of the Columns and Parthenon
  7. Corinthian Capital
  8. Ionic Capital
  9. Column Technical Terms and Quiz

07
of 09
Column Technical Terms and Quiz

Acanthus
Acanthus: Doric Columns of the Parthenon | The Column | The Doric Order | Echinus and Abacus | Parthenon and Column Proportions | Optical Illusions of the Columns and Parthenon | Corinthian Capital | Ionic Capital | Column Technical Terms and Quiz. Clipart.com

The preceding pages have introduced the following terms:

  • abacus
  • architrave
  • cornice
  • echinus
  • entablature
  • entasis
  • frieze
  • hypotrachelion
  • metope
  • order
  • pediment
  • peripteral
  • triglyph

Take the Doric Order Quiz

  1. Doric Columns of the Parthenon
  2. The Column
  3. The Doric Order
  4. Echinus and Abacus
  5. Parthenon and Column Proportions
  6. Optical Illusions of the Columns and Parthenon
  7. Corinthian Capital
  8. Ionic Capital
  9. Column Technical Terms and Quiz

08
of 09
Corinthian Capital

Corinthian Capital from the Agora at Athens.
Corinthian Capital Agora, Athens: Doric Columns of the Parthenon|Column|Doric Order|Echinus and Abacus|Parthenon and Column Proportions|Optical Illusions of the Columns and Parthenon|Corinthian Capital|Ionic Capital|Column Technical Terms and Quiz. CC Flickr Eustaquio Santimano

The most ornate order was the Corinthian Order. It is said that strictly speaking, the Corinthian isn't a separate order, since it uses the Ionic, but substitutes a different capital. This photo of a Corinthian Capital, from the Agora at Athens, is much more elaborate than anything on a Doric Column. The story of the origin of the capital is that a tile-covered basket left on the grave of a Corinthian girl stayed in place long enough to acquire an acanthus plant growing through it, molded into curls by the confines of the basket. The sculptor Callimachus, who worked on the Periclean acropolis program, happened to see it and was delighted. He made a new type of column based up on it. The Corinthian column only became popular in Hellenistic and Roman times. It solved a problem that Ionic columns had. At corners, Ionic columns look different from the two outside sides. The Corinthian column looks much the same.

Source: Gardner's Art Through the Ages: A Global History, by Fred S. Kleiner.

  1. Doric Columns of the Parthenon
  2. The Column
  3. The Doric Order
  4. Echinus and Abacus
  5. Parthenon and Column Proportions
  6. Optical Illusions of the Columns and Parthenon
  7. Corinthian Capital
  8. Ionic Capital
  9. Column Technical Terms and Quiz

09
of 09
Ionic Capital

Ionic Capital on an Ionic Column at the Erechtheum in Athens
Ionic Capital - Erechtheum, Athens: Doric Columns of the Parthenon|Column|Doric Order|Echinus and Abacus|Parthenon and Column Proportions|Optical Illusions of the Columns and Parthenon|Corinthian Capital|Ionic Capital|Column Technical Terms and Quiz. CC Flickr Dan..

Ionian Greeks started the Ionic Order of architecture, but mainland Greeks soon used it, as well. Ionic columns typically show a pair of volutes -- yes, it's the same word as in volute krater since volute refers to the curling.

  1. Doric Columns of the Parthenon
  2. The Column
  3. The Doric Order
  4. Echinus and Abacus
  5. Parthenon and Column Proportions
  6. Optical Illusions of the Columns and Parthenon
  7. Corinthian Capital
  8. Ionic Capital
  9. Column Technical Terms and Quiz