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COLUMNA (κιών, dim. κιονίς, κιονίον, κιοϝίοκος: στῦλος, dim. στυλίς, στυλίσκος), a pillar or column.

Under the term “column” is comprised a number of forms, bearing indeed a superficial resemblance to each other, but in origin and function widely differing. Thus, the isolated pillar having a votive, terminal, or commemorative object, corresponds to the earlier monolith or sacred tree. A few of the more interesting and important types of this class will be briefly described later on. Again, the structural column, according as it appears in the interior of the Homeric hall (Od. 6.307; 8.66, &c.), in the exterior of a peripteral temple, or in the arrangement called “hypaethral,” also occurring in the Roman atrium, has in each case a distinct history and significance. Merely to confront the grand series of achievements in stone, belonging in the main to the most finished and regular types, with the rude wooden cabins that have existed or still exist in some parts of Hellas, is no longer considered a satisfactory explanation of the origin of Greek columnar architecture. It is now admitted that a form which had been brought through centuries of development to such variety and perfection on the Nile and Euphrates was scarcely likely to have been invented again by such an eminently assimilative race as the Greeks. Hence evidence of the occasional occurrence of wooden columns has no bearing on the general question: the pillars of oak in the market-place at Elis (Paus. 6.24.7), the trunks of vines in the temple of Juno at Metapontum (Plin. Nat. 14.9), may have been relics of an older mode of construction, but can prove nothing. The verandahed huts of Xanthos described by Fellowes (Journal, p. 234) undoubtedly throw light upon the Lycian rock-hewn tombs and temples, which clearly exhibit a wooden type. But this is a local style; moreover, these monuments being monolithic, the change of material does not require structural accommodation.

The theory of direct imitation of wooden structures had been pushed to its logical conclusion by Vitruvius, according to whom the triglyphs cover the ends of the beams supporting the cornice, and the mutules are the representatives of the ends of rafters; but the rather lame attempt of the Roman architect to explain the details of the Doric order only accentuates more strongly the material difficulties. A like failure has hitherto attended nearly all essays to find a meaning for the symbolic and decorative elements apparent or suggested in the several orders. The story of Callimachus (Vitr. 4.1, 9) is chronologically inconsistent; the anthropomorphic speculation (4.1) requires the absence of the Doric flutings; and Vitruvius' fantastic explanations are only paralleled by some of the modern theories.

Recently, however, the materials and the methods for the elucidation of the history of the Greek orders have been enlarged and improved. Fragments of temples dating from before the Persian wars, the evidence of coins and vases, and a cautious comparison of Egyptian and Assyrian styles, are all helping to throw light on this difficult subject. Thus a glimpse, however slight, has been obtained of the importation into Hellas of the elements of two orders, the Doric and the Ionic. Through the Phoenicians and the races of Asia Minor, the resources and motives of Egyptian and Assyrian art were made familiar to the Greek mind. Perhaps even a precise moment may be seized for that imposing creation the Doric temple; and we may suppose, with M. Chipiez, that the idea was first inspired in those Greeks who, serving under Psammetichus, had beheld the wonderful temples on the Nile. This would not only account for the new departure, in the use of stone, but also for that most remarkable parallel to Egyptian art, the principle of polychromy.

For a full account of the positive results hitherto attained, and for a criticism of the

Fallen Column. (Swinburne's
Tour in the Two Sicilies,
ii. p. 301.)

older Vitruvian views, the student must be referred to the literature cited below. In M Chipiez's work, the historical side is most ably illustrated, and in H. Adamy's treatise aesthetic considerations receive ample appreciation. [p. 1.490](Beulé, Hist. de l'Art grec avant Périclès; Id., Fouilles et Découvertes résumées et discutées en vue de l'Histoire de l'Art; Chabat, Fragments d'Arch.; Chandler, Ionian Antiquities; Batissier, Art Monument.; Chipiez, Hist. crit. des Orig. et de la Format. des Ordres grecs; Adamy, Architektonik auf hist. und aesthet. Grundlage; Donaldson, Architectura Numismatica; the works of Schliemann and Cesnola, and reports of excavations at Olympia. Also Prisse d'Avennes on Egyptian Architecture; Perrot and Chipiez, History of Ancient Art; and in

Temple at Delos.

Parthenon at Athens. Doric Columns. (Fergusson.)

Temple at Corinth.

particular Milchhoefer, Die Anfänge der Kunst in Griechenland.

1. Greek.

Before proceeding to the detailed description of the several orders, a few words may be devoted to more general matters. The members of an order from below upwards are: the foundation (κρηπίδωμα) of one or more steps (κρηπῖδες); the column (στῦλος), consisting of shaft (σῶμα, scapus) and capital (ἐπίκρανον, κιόκρανον); and the entablature, consisting of architrave (ἐπιστύλιον [EPISTYLIUM]), frieze (ζωοφόρος [ZOPHORUS]), and cornice (γεῖσον, corona). For the gable-end or pediment (ἀετός), see FASTIGIUM; for the door-posts (παραστάδες), see ANTAE From the constitutive character of the column in an order immediately follows its importance in determining the proportions and disposition of the other members. The ancient unit (ἐμβάτης, modulus) for this purpose was the inferior diameter of the column, or in the Doric order the breadth of a triglyph (one semidiameter). Each order, then, has its canon (κανών) of proportion as well as of form. Also, except when the disposition of the columns is indefinite [PORTICUS], intercolumniations (μεσοστύλιον) are determined by reference to the modulus [TEMPLUM].

1. Doric order.

The Doric Order is characterised by the absence of a base--the shafts of the columns spring immediately from the floor (στυλοβάτης, podium)--the thickness and rapid diminution of the shaft, and the simplicity of the capital, which consists of a deep square abacus (ἄβαξ) supported by a circular ovolo (ἐχῖνος), beneath which are from three to five steps or channels (ἱμάντες, annuli). Below these the shaft sometimes retreats (ἀποφυγὴ), and in most cases a narrow neck (ὑποτραχήλιον), traversed by the flutes, is cut off by grooves or fillets,--three in early examples (Corinth), one in later (Parthenon).

This portion was of one piece with the capital (see engraving of fallen column, p. 489), and did not share in the diminution, but its channels served as indications for the fluting (ῥάβδωσις) of the lower drums. The shaft swells from the base to about one-third and then diminishes; this character (ἔντασις [ENTASIS]) is exaggerated in some ancient specimens, as at Assos, while it is entirely absent in others, as at Corinth. The shallow flutes (διάξυσμα, striae), commonly sixteen to twenty in number, although twenty-four, twenty-eight, and thirty-two are known, are separated by a sharp edge; their section is circular, semi-elliptical, or eccentric. In the earliest examples of the order, the columns are very short in proportion to their greatest thickness. Thus, in the temple at Corinth, the height of the columns is only 7 2/3 modules (semi-diameters), and in the great temple at Paestum only 8 1/2 ; but greater lightness was afterwards given to the order, so that in the Parthenon, [p. 1.491]which represents the canonical proportion, the height of the columns is 11 modules. Originally the echinus moulding was full and impending (Corinth and Assos); its outline, usually parabolic or circular, became later almost flat (hyperbolic), as in the Propylaea and Parthenon. The architrave, impending the columns half as much as the abacus the shaft, is flat and plain, except at Assos, where it bears a bas-relief of bulls fighting. It is marked off by a narrow band (taenia) from the frieze. The latter is ornamented by equally-spaced surfaces (τρίγλυφοι), one over each column and each intercolumniation, with the exception of those at the extremities, whose axes do not coincide with

Doric Order. Temple of Apollo Epicurius, Phigaleia. (Mauch, pl. 11.)

those of the angular columns. The triglyphs are so called from the channels, two whole and two half, of triangular or curved section, which appear upon then, leaving three flat strips (μηροί). They are bound above and below by narrow bands: the upper of these is continuous, although here deeper, with the fascia of the frieze; from the under-surface of the lower band (regula) depend six cylindrical or conical drops (guttae). The square intervals of frieze (μετόπαι) are supposed to have been originally left open (Eur. IT 113), and are so represented on vases. In extant examples they are occupied with flat plates often sculptured in high relief. The cornice consists of a flat larmier (γεισιπόδισμα, corona) and a group of mouldings (κυμάτιον, ἀκρογείσιον), comprising a square fillet and ogee. The corona is continuous and greatly projecting, with its lower surface sloped. Attached to a narrow sunk face, forming the soffit of the cornice, is a series of inclined plates (mutuli), one over each triglyph and metope; from their under-surfaces depend eighteen cylindrical guttae in three rows. The cymatium, so called from the form of its characteristic moulding (κῦμα), carries lionheads. For the arrangement of the roof, see FASTIGIUM; and for further details, ACROTERIUM, ANTEFIXA, STELAE.

The profile in the preceding column is from the temple of Apollo Epicurius at Phigaleia, built by Ictinus, the architect of the Parthenon.

2. Ionic Order.

The Ionic Order is distinguished by the elegance of each member, a characteristic betraying Asiatic influence. Thus, the column from the first is slender: that of the temple of the Ilissus has a height of 8 modules, a proportion later increased to 9 (Erechtheium) and 9 1/2

Ionic Corner Capital. Portico of Temple of Athena Polias (Erechtheium), Athens. (Mauch, pl. 34.)

(Athena Polias, Priene). The shaft rests upon a circular base (σπεῖρα), towards which it gradually curves. [SPIRA; ATTICURGES.] Its surface is occupied with alternate flutes (24) and fillets. The capital consists of an astragal, an echinus with egg and tongue pattern, and, sometimes a torus intervening, the canalis, from which proceed the spirals of two lateral volutes (ἕλικες), whence the name for the whole σπειροκέφαλον. The upper and lower lines of the canalis may be either convex or horizontal. The volutes have a central disc (oculus), and are flat in front and behind, presenting a surface of double curvature at the sides, where they are [p. 1.492]bound together with astragals [BALTEI] in the directrices. When the order had to be carried round a corner, the plane of the outer volute was sometimes given an inclination of 45° to the surfaces (see figure in preceding page). Below the astragal of the capital there is often a hypotrachelium, sometimes, as in the Erechtheium, adorned with palm-leaves (ἀνθέμιον), separated from the shaft by an astragal. Upon a narrow ornamental rectangular abacus rests the architrave of three faces, slightly overlapping. There is a small cornice between architrave and frieze ; the latter sometimes exhibits bas-reliefs, and all three members are more or less ornamented

Ionic Column and Entablature. Portico of Temple of Athena Polias (Erechtheium), Athens. (Fergusson.)

with mouldings. Modillions (πρόμοχθοι) and dentils sometimes appear under the upper part of the cornice.

The finest specimens of the order in its most simple form are those in the temple of the Ilissus, and that of Athena Polias at Priene. The engraving shows the portico of the temple of Athena Polias (Erechtheium) at Athens, which, while displaying a greater profusion of ornament, is equally pure in its outlines.

3. Corinthian Order.

The Corinthian Order is more slender than the Ionic, but the chief difference is the greater richness of the capital. From a sort of basket (κάλαθος) spring two rows of acanthus-leaves, surmounted by four volutes at the angles, the spaces between the volutes being occupied by flowers, leaves, and opposed or intertwining helices. In the earlier examples, however, there is frequently but one row of acanthus leaves; and in the Horologium of Andronicus Cyrrhestes, vulgarly called “The Temple of the Winds,” the volutes are wanting, the capital consisting only of an astragal, a row of acanthus leaves, and a row of tongue-shaped leaves. In all the examples except the last-mentioned, the abacus, instead of being square, is hollowed

Corinthian Order. Monument of Lysicrates, Athens. (Mauch, pl. 54.)

at the edges, and the middle of each edge is ornamented with a flower. The details of flowers, leaves, tendrils, and volutes seem derived from metal-work applied to a central core. Indeed, it is known that the capital was frequently made of bronze, or even gold and ivory.

A very early capital was found in the ruins of the temple of Apollo at Phigaleia. The most typical specimen of this order is the choragic [p. 1.493]monument of Lysicrates at Athens (335 B.C.). (See cut on preceding page.) The next example is from the Horologium of Andronicus Cyrrhestes, spoken of above. (See cut below.)

The Olympieium or temple of Zeus Olympius at Athens, commenced by Peisistratus and finished by Hadrian, after many suspensions and interruptions, is, strictly speaking, a Roman and not a Grecian example; except that, being executed at Athens, there is a degree of taste and art displayed in its execution which we do not find in any strictly Roman example. (Fergusson.)

Although the combination of Greek orders in one plane follows no rule, when superposed the

Corinthian Order. Horologium of Andronicus Cyrrhestes, Athens. (Fergusson.)

same order is used in each tier, and the columns separated by an architrave have their axes common. (This arrangement is to be seen in the temple of Poseidon at Paestum.)

The frequently recurring want of symmetry in the dispositions of the Greek temple can here only be noted. For details on this and other matters, such as the inclination of columns and horizontal surfaces, variations from canonical forms, and surface colouring and the employment of coloured tiles, reference must be made to the authorities below (see also ENTASIS).

2. Tuscan Order.

The TUSCAN ORDER, although at one time the prevailing style at Rome, has left such meagre remains, that we are obliged to fall back upon the description of Vitruvius (4.7). With this, however, the fragments of columns discovered and the bas-reliefs on Etruscan tombs do not quite agree. The order seems to have been an undeveloped or simplified Doric. (Dennis, Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria; Carlo Promis, Le Antichità di Alba Fucense, pl. iii.; Canina, Etruria maritima, pl. cx.; Abeken, Mittelitalien.

3. Roman.

The Roman imitations of the Greek orders are chiefly notable for their inferiority in proportion and vulgarity in detail, and for their perverse misapprehension of the more characteristic features in the originals.

  • 1. In the Doric Order the shaft is often smooth (Coliseum) and always slender, and it is in later work provided with a base. The proportions of the capital are disregarded, and the effect of the abacus is destroyed by a fillet. Mutules are sometimes absent from the cornice, and dentils appear instead. (The figure in the text reprosents

    Roman Doric Order. Albano, near Rome. (Mauch, pl. 19.)

    the details of an example at Albano, near Rome.)
  • 2. In the Ionic Order, a square plinth was added to the base, and frequently all the capitals were given corner volutes.
  • 3. The Corinthian Order. “The fate of this order,” says Fergusson, “was different from that of the other two. The Doric and Ionic orders had reached their acme of perfection in the hands of the Greek artists, and seem to have become incapable of further improvement. The Corinthian, on the contrary, was a recent conception; and although nothing can surpass the elegance and grace with which the Greeks adorned it, the new capital never acquired with them that fulness and strength requisite to render it an appropriate architectural ornament, [p. 1.494]These were added to it by the Romans, or rather perhaps by Grecian artists acting under their direction, who thus, as shown in the cut below, produced an order which for richness, combined with proportion and architectural fitness, has hardly been surpassed.”

    Roman Corinthian Order. Temple of Jupiter Stator. (Fergusson.)

    This order sometimes shows a plinth, and a base, composed of two tori, including two scotiae, separated by a double astragal.

  • 4. The Roman or Composite Order is a mongrel of the Corinthian and Ionic; the general character being Corinthian, except that the upper part of the capital has Ionic volutes. Both capital and entablature are overloaded with ornaments. The cut on the next page is from the triumphal arch of Titus, which is considered the best example.
Structural incongruities, such as an order of columns standing free from the architrave, which is otherwise supported, and complete ordonnances (Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian), super-imposed one on another, the upper members thus losing all significance, are of common occurrence. In the Coliseum, the three orders are further surmounted by a wall decorated with pilasters of the Composite order. (See the elevation, AMPHITHEATRUM p. 109 b.

It now remains to mention some other uses of the column or pillar, in addition to that in an architectural ordonnance. Long rows of columns were used to support aqueducts (Crates, ap. Ath. 6.94, 268); and single pillars were fixed in harbours for mooring ships (Hom. Od. 22.466). Various other structures in which the column appears are described under HOROLOGIUM and MILLIARIUM.

Single columns were erected from the earliest times to commemorate persons or events (Leon. Tarent. in Brunck, Anal. 1.239). Early Roman examples are those in honour of C. Maenius and P. Minucius, mentioned by Pliny (Plin. Nat. 34.21); of a later date is the marble monolith to Julius Caesar, set up in the Forum after his death (Suet. Jul. 85). Columnae rostratae were employed by the Romans to record their naval victories (Verg. G. 3.29; Serv. ad loc.), the most celebrated being that to C. Duilius, who gained a victory over the Carthaginians in B.C. 260, a copy of which is now in the museum of the Capitol. (See cut on the next page.)

More important, as well on account of their imposing size as of their value to the archaeologist, are the lofty and elaborate columns erected in imperial times. The finest of these monuments is that which was voted by the senate in honour of Trajan, and executed by Apollodorus in 104 A.D. The column itself is apparently of the Tuscan order, and is composed of huge drums of white marble, pierced within so as to form a spiral staircase, to which there is an entrance in the pedestal. A bas-relief of the chief episodes in the Dacian campaigns winds round the shaft. Including the bronze status of the emperor, the total height was not less than 130 feet. (Piranesi, Col. Traj.; Fröhner, La Col. Tr. (photolithographic reprod. of castings); Percier, La. C. T. restaur. exécut. en 1788; Chipiez, Columna in Daremberg and Saglio.) [p. 1.495]

The above mode of construction, which received the name of columna cochlis, was likewise adopted in the Antonine column erected to the memory of Marcus Aurelius, illustrating his

Roman Composite Order. Arch of Titus. (Mauch, pl. 77.)

victories over the Marcomanni. (Bartoli et Bellori, Col. cochl. M. Aur. Ant. Aug. dicata, &c., 1672 and 1704.)

Columna rostrata of C. Duilius.

The third and very inferior specimen of this type of monument is the Theodosian column, the base of which still exists at Constantinople. (G. Bellino, Col. Theodos. 1702; Séroux d'Agincourt, Hist. de l'Art, pl. 11.1823.)

Authorities.--Principles of Greek architecture:--Vitruvius, De Arch., ed. Rose u. Müller-Strübing; Index, Nohl.; Penrose, An Investig. of the Principles of Athenian Archit.; Bötticher,

Column of Trajan.

Antonine Column.

Tektonik der Hellenen; Durm, Constructive Détail der gr. Baukunst; Fabricius, De Arch. Graeca; Lohde, Die Architektonik der Hell.; Mauch, Die Architekt. Ordn. der Gr., Römer, u. neueren Meister; Id., Neue system. Darstell. d. arch. Ordn. der Gr., R., u. neueren Baum.; Id., Vergl. Darstell. Gr. Bau-Ordn. (Kupfertaf.); Reber, Gesch. der Bauk. im Alterthum. The Greek canon:--Aurès, 21Etudes des dimensions du gr. Temple de Paestum, &c.; Id., Nouvelle théorie [p. 1.496]du Module; Choisy, Études sur l'Archit. grecque. On optical accommodations, curvature, &c., see ENTASIS Polychromy:--Hittorf, Restit. du Temple d'Empédocle à Sélinounte, ou l'Arch. polychrôme chez les Grecs (Atlas); Kugler, Ueber Polychromie; Rosz, Bemalte Att. Marmorstelen; Bormann u. Siebold, Ueber Verwendung von Terrakotten am Geison und Duche Gr. Bauwerke. Special works:--Penrose (above), Michaelis, Fergusson--the Parthenon; Leake, Topogr. of Athens; Stuart and Revett, Antiq. of Athens and Attica; Blouet, Expéd. scient. de Morée; Stackelberg, Der Apollotemple zu Bassae; F. Lenormant, Rech. arch. à Eleusis; Hittorf et Zanth, Archit. ant. de la Sicile; Texier, Descr. de l'Asie Mineure; Rayet et Thomas, Milet et le golfe Lathmique; Perrot et Guillaume, Explor. de la Galatie; Pacho, Voy. dans la Cyrén.; Labrouste, Les Temples de Paestum; and works by Wood, Newton, Ramsay, and others.


hide References (12 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (12):
    • Euripides, Iphigeneia in Taurus, 113
    • Homer, Odyssey, 22.466
    • Homer, Odyssey, 6.307
    • Homer, Odyssey, 8.66
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 6.24.7
    • Vergil, Georgics, 3.29
    • Suetonius, Divus Julius, 85
    • Vitruvius, On Architecture, 4.1
    • Vitruvius, On Architecture, 4.7
    • Vitruvius, On Architecture, 4.9
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 14.9
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 34.21
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