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SPIRA (σπεῖρα), dim. SPI´RULA (Servius in Verg. A. 2.217), the base of a column. The word σπεῖρα is used in this signification in Greek inscriptions, being applied to the bases of the columns of the Erechtheum and of the temple of Zeus at Labranda (C. I. G. 160, 50.64; 2713, 2714). Spira is the term regularly used by Vitruvius and other Latin writers in the same signification (see esp. 3.5, when the forms and proportions are prescribed).

The base, which is absent in Doric columns but always present in those of the Ionic or Corinthian order, may be either Attic or Ionic; it may be used either with or without a plinth beneath it. The Attic form [ATTICURGES] consists of an upper and a lower torus (torus superior, inferior), with a scotia (τροχίλος)


between them, bordered above and below by a quadra: it is found in all the Ionic buildings at [p. 2.691]Athens, whether they have the Ionic or Attic form of the capital. The example given is from the Erechtheum (see right-hand part of cut). The Ionic consists of an upper torus, and of a lower member and two trochili, with double astragali above, between, and below. It is seen in the temple of Athena at Priene (see left half of cut) and elsewhere. That this is the original Ionic base is shown by the base of the primitive Ionic column from Naucratis (Petrie, Naukratis, i. pl. 3), where the lower part of the base, though not showing the two trochili, is of the same general character, and quite different from an Attic base.

The upper torus is sometimes fluted (ῥαβδωτός), as in the left-hand part of the cut, sometimes ornamented with a plaited ornament, as in the right-hand part; both treatments of the torus of the Attic base may be found even in the same building, in the Erechtheum.

In Etruscan columns the base consists simply of a torus resting on a plinth; in Roman buildings the plinth is almost always present, and all the Greek forms, but especially the Attic, are imitated.


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