CHAPTER I: THE ORIGINS OF THE THREE ORDERS, AND THE PROPORTIONS OF THE CORINTHIAN CAPITAL
1. CORINTHIAN columns are, excepting in their capitals of the same proportions in all respects as Ionic; but the height of their capitals gives them proportionately a taller and more slender effect. This is because the height of the Ionic capital is only one third of the thickness of the column, while that of the Corinthian is the entire thickness of the shaft. Hence, as two thirds are added in Corinthian capitals, their tallness gives a more slender appearance to the columns themselves.
2. The other members which are placed above the columns, are, for Corinthian columns, composed either of the Doric proportions or according to the Ionic usages; for the Corinthian order never had any scheme peculiar to itself for its cornices or other ornaments, but may have mutules in the coronae and guttae on the architraves according to the triglyph system of the Doric style, or, according to Ionic practices, it may be arranged with a frieze adorned with sculptures and accompanied with dentils and coronae.
3. Thus a third architectural order, distinguished by its capital, was produced out of the two other orders. To the forms of their columns are due the names of the three orders, Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian, of which the Doric was the first to arise, and in early times. For Dorus, the son of Hellen and the nymph Phthia, was king of Achaea and all the Peloponnesus, and he built a fane, which chanced to be of this order, in the precinct of Juno at Argolis, a very ancient city, and subsequently others of the same order in the other cities of Achaea, although the rules of symmetry were not yet in existence.
4. Later, the Athenians, in obedience to oracles of the Delphic Apollo, and with the general agreement of all Hellas, despatched thirteen colonies at one time to Asia Minor, appointing leaders for each colony and giving the command-in-chief to Ion, son of Xuthus and Creusa (whom further Apollo at Delphi in the oracles had acknowledged as his son). Ion conducted those colonies to Asia Minor, took possession of the land of Caria, and there founded the grand cities of Ephesus, Miletus, Myus (long ago engulfed by the water, and its sacred rites and suffrage handed over by the Ionians to the Milesians), Priene, Samos, Teos, Colophon, Chius, Erythrae, Phocaea, Clazomenae, Lebedos, and Melite. This Melite, on account of the arrogance of its citizens, was destroyed by the other cities in a war declared by general agreement, and in its place, through the kindness of King Attalus and Arsinoe, the city of the Smyrnaeans was admitted among the Ionians.
5. Now these cities, after driving out the Carians and Lelegans, called that part of the world Ionia from their leader Ion, and there they set off precincts for the immortal gods and began to build fanes: first of all, a temple to Panionion Apollo such as they had seen in Achaea, calling it Doric because they had first seen that kind of temple built in the states of the Dorians.
6. Wishing to set up columns in that temple, but not having rules for their symmetry, and being in search of some way by which they could render them fit to bear a load and also of a satisfactory beauty of appearance, they measured the imprint of a man's foot and compared this with his height. On finding that, in a man, the foot was one sixth of the height, they applied the same principle to the column, and reared the shaft, including the capital, to a height six times its thickness at its base. Thus the Doric column, as used in buildings, began to exhibit the proportions, strength, and beauty of the body of a man.
7. Just so afterwards, when they desired to construct a temple to Diana in a new style of beauty, they translated these footprints into terms characteristic of the slenderness of women, and thus first made a column the thickness of which was only one eighth of its height, so that it might have a taller look. At the foot they substituted the base in place of a shoe; in the capital they placed the volutes, hanging down at the right and left like curly ringlets, and ornamented its front with cymatia and with festoons of fruit arranged in place of hair, while they brought the flutes down the whole shaft, falling like the folds in the robes worn by matrons. Thus in the invention of the two different kinds of columns, they borrowed manly beauty, naked and unadorned, for the one, and for the other the delicacy, adornment, and proportions characteristic of women.
8. It is true that posterity, having made progress in refinement and delicacy of feeling, and finding pleasure in more slender proportions, has established seven diameters of the thickness as the height of the Doric column, and nine as that of the Ionic. The Ionians, however, originated the order which is therefore named Ionic. The third order, called Corinthian, is an imitation of the slenderness of a maiden; for the outlines and limbs of maidens, being more slender on account of their tender years, admit of prettier effects in the way of adornment.
9. It is related that the original discovery of this form of capital was as follows. A freeborn maiden of Corinth, just of marriageable age, was attacked by an illness and passed away. After her burial, her nurse, collecting a few little things which used to give the girl pleasure while she was alive, put them in a basket, carried it to the tomb, and laid it on top thereof, covering it with a roof-tile so that the things might last longer in the open air. This basket happened to be placed just above the root of an acanthus. The acanthus root, pressed down meanwhile though it was by the weight, when springtime came round put forth leaves and stalks in the middle, and the stalks, growing up along the sides of the basket, and pressed out by the corners of the tile through the compulsion of its weight, were forced to bend into volutes at the outer edges.
10. Just then Callimachus, whom the Athenians called κατατηξίτεχνος for the refinement and delicacy of his artistic work,
11. The proportions of this capital should be fixed as follows. Let the height of the capital, including its abacus, be equivalent to the thickness of the base of a column. Let the breadth of the abacus be proportioned so that diagonals drawn from one corner of it to the other shall be twice the height of the capitals, which will give the proper breadth to each face of the abacus. The faces should curve inwards, by one ninth of the breadth of the face, from the outside edge of the corners of the abacus. At the bottom the capital should be of the thickness of the top of the column omitting the congé and astragal. The height of the abacus is one seventh of the height of the capital.
12. Omitting the height of the abacus, let the rest be divided into three parts, of which one should be given to the lowest leaf. Let the second leaf occupy the middle part of the height. Of the same height should be the stalks, out of which grow leaves projected so as to support the volutes which proceed from the stalks, and run out to the utmost corners of the abacus; the smaller spirals between them should be carved just under the flower which is on the abacus. The flowers on the four sides are to be made as large as the height of the abacus. On these principles of proportion, Corinthian capitals will be finished as they ought to be.There are other kinds of capitals set upon these same columns and called by various names, but they have no peculiarities of proportion of which we can speak, nor can we recognize from them another order of columns. Even their very names are, as we can see, derived with some changes from the Corinthian, the cushion-shaped, and the Doric, whose symmetrical proportions have been thus transferred to delicate sculptures of novel form.