HUMN303N Discussions Week 2: Greek and Roman Architectural Influences
- Alice D
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Class, please choose at least one building in Washington, DC and discuss how it is a reflection of Greco-Roman architecture.
The ancient Greek architects have given us some of the most uniquely built structures that have influenced the world even today. There are various public buildings even in the modern era that has benefitted from their contribution. Their designs started out to illustrate their capabilities in constructing amazing temples.
As stated by Sayre, “The classical Greek orders became the basic design elements for architecture from ancient Greek times to the present day. A major source of their power is the sense of order, predictability, and proportion that they embody” (P.51). The Greek architecture is comprised of three distinct parts which are the platform, the column and the entablature (Sayre, 2013). “The platform is a raised horizontal surface, the column is the vertical part that provides support and the entablature is the upper portion that is comprised of 3 parts such as the cornice, frieze, and architrave” (Sayre, 2013 p.51). Together these units are referred to as the elevation order. They are known as the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian (Sayre 2013).The difference between them is the shape of the columns and the décor it possesses (Sayre, 2013). The most famous example of the Doric order is The Parthenon. It was done in 432 BCE 15 years after initial construction started p. 60. Please see depiction below.
These structures built, all possess distinct features referred to as columns, friezes, and pediments where their features are one of a kind design. (Sayre, 2013). In the Doric order, the bottom layer and the flat band located just above the Entablature substantial. The portion known as the Doric is the part of the column that is considered the largest part. As stated by Sayre, 2013 “The Doric is the heaviest of the columns. The Ionic is lighter and noticeably smaller. The Corinthian is smaller yet, seemingly supported by mere leaves” (p.51). These orders became to be known as the basic foundation used to construct buildings in the biggest cities today (Sayre, 2013).
The Romans had great respect for the Greeks on their cultural achievement’s, philosophy and arts. (Sayre, 2013). They also had great respect for themselves and the artistic ways that made them different from the Greeks. The Romans adopted many of the architectural traditions established by the Greek but also developed their own style as well. They continued to build structures based on the classical order established by the Greeks and their favorite was the Corinthian. They were also considered pioneers who developed new ways to not only construct buildings but use new materials such as concrete (p.92) They combined existing techniques with newer designs to create new architectural structures such as the basilica. As stated by Sayre, (2013)“A basilica is a large, rectangular building with a rounded extension, called an apse, at one or both ends, and easy access in and out” (p.93). They also developed the triumphal arch, which is “composed of a simple barrel vault enclosed within a rectangle, and enlivened with sculpture and decorative engaged column. These structures would impact structures of the modern era such as renaissance cathedrals (p.94). Another type built by the Romans is the ceremonial column. This particular structure is meant to illustrate “power and male virility”. Another most desired undertaking done by the Romans is the building of the Pantheon. “The Pantheon is a temple to “all the gods,” and sculptures representing all the Roman gods were set in recesses around its interior. The facade is a Roman temple, originally set on a high podium, with its eight massive Corinthian columns and deep portico, behind which are massive bronze doors” (p.95). The contributions made by both the Greeks and Romans continue to influence our culture today.
Sayre, H. M. (2013). Discovering the humanities (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Great post. I found it to very informative on the structures and type of building process used. I have been fortunate to have visited both Athens and Rome recently. Pictures do neither place justice. In Greece the acropolis stands erect on top of elevated ground surrounded by theaters and other historical sites and battle grounds. This temple has been destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC and was rebuilt. Its current condition is not from aging but from a mortar attack by the Venetian Army. The Turks had occupied to Athens and were being attacked by the Venetians. The Turks had stored all their gun powder in the Acropolis and while being attacked had moved to the acropolis for shelter. The Turks believed that the Venetians knew they had stored their gunpowder there and thought that the Venetians would not attack. They were wrong, on September 26,1687 the Venetians bombarded the site and eventually hit the gunpowder leaving the Acropolis the way it stands today. While I was visiting this past summer there were cranes and other equipment on site. According to a tour guide they are slowly working on the structure to keep it from crumbling. In Rome the Pantheon reminds us of the Greek style of building on the outside but is Roman on the inside. Once again this is a work of art that needs to be seen in person. After seeing both places I am amazed at how big these structures were and the time periods they were built. The materials used and the detail in the creations. As grand as these two are they do not compare to the Colosseum. The Colosseum is the largest amphitheater ever built. While you are standing inside it is breath taking. Pictures do it no justice in its size and beauty. Great post! I enjoyed reading it.
The Greco Roman blended version of architecture has given the human civilization some of the best historical monuments till date. The influence of Greece on the culture of Rome reflects in the architecture and art that had been depicted in the language, culture governing styles as well as the religion of Rome in the latter periods. The Byzantium empire around the Black Sea as well as the Mediterranean had constructed swimming pools and spas that are till date preserved as the best forms of architecture we humans ever saw.Hi Jean,
You actually make some great points here in deed. Reading your discussion I felt like sharing a certain historical fact with you. Alexander , the great had appointed a Roman architect who was in charge of most of the ideal architectural construction of Rome in the contemporary times. His name was Parmenion and his first task of expertise was evidenced by Alexander when he built the building of Alexandria, and the renowned temple at Serapis. He was as well assisted by the Greek painter named Phidias in creating such fantastic historical buildings.Professor and Class,
Greek architectural tradition began with the building of sanctuaries. The prominent features of Greek architecture are three vertical elements: platforms, columns and an entablature. Their relationship to one another forms what is called elevation’s order. Three types of elevation exist: the Doric. The Ionic and the Corinthian. The bottom layer of the entablature is usually decorated with sculpture, painting or moldings.
When the Romans conquered the Greeks, they were impressed with the ornate architecture of the Greeks. It is normal that that Roman architecture bears influences of Greek architecture and this week’s lesson tells us it also Etruscan inspiration. Where Greek city states were characterized by sanctuaries, Roman cities are characterized by forum. One important Roman invention is the concrete. The week two lesson reminds us that ‘concrete serve as the foundations and supporting structures’. The goal of Roman architecture was to express the grandeur of Rome while improving the life of the citizens. To that end [and without going into city planning] some the prominent features of Roman architectures are arches, domes and vaults. The Romans married arches and columns in a triumphal manner.
Both Greek and Roman architecture influences can be in Europe and the Americas.
- Sayre, H. (2013) Discovering the Humanities 2nd Upper Saddle, NJ: Pearson
- Chamberlain University, online learning. Humanities 303. Lesson; Greco-Roman Influences, wk. 2.
Barbara, I did not know the Romans invented concrete until this week. We can clearly see that Roman contribution everywhere today. I like that you included that concrete serves as the foundation. We still use concrete as housing foundations, but now we are reinforcing the concrete with metal bars as an improvement. The evolution of concrete has been helpful to architecture and buildings of today.
Sayre, H. (2013) Discovering the Humanities 2nd Upper Saddle, NJ: PearsonHi, Barbara
Great way to summarize this week’s lesson and readings! As we learned there are differences between the Roman and Greek structures as per their culture and background. After reviewing both types of architecture, do you feel the monuments in Washington D.C. resemble the Roman or Greek layout more? Also, do you feel that the two sanctuaries still standing in Italy today are in such good shape because of the columns and architectural design?
Both Hellenic and Roman architectural influences are evident in the monuments in Washington D.C. So, it depends on what monument one is looking at. Take the Lincoln Memorial for example is more hellenic in style, whereas the Jefferson Memorial is more like the Pantheon in Rome.
I am not what you are referring to as "two sanctuaries still standing in Italy". In my post I was contrasting Greek and Roman city planning. Greek city planning was characterized by building sanctuaries as meeting place whereas Roman focussed on forum/fora as meeting place.
Yes columns based architectural design give longevity to building structures.
I am learning so much in the brief time since we have started this class. I did not know that the Roman's invented concrete. It is amazing that the strength of their invention has allowed their structures to really stand the test of time. Some have been through natural disasters such as earthquakes and even military invasion. Our text mentions that the Romans have been using concrete in their buildings since the second century BCE. It was made from a mixture of volcanic aggregate and was stronger than any other building material at that time and set quickly.
Sayre, H. M. (2013). Discovering the humanities (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.Hi Barbara,
The Greeks and the Romans have influence our art, architecture even our politics. Their contributions have affected every aspect of our lives. When we think about going on trips we often go to big cities and see structures that are built in the grandest forms. These structures are reminiscent of the old temples built by the Romans and Greeks. As mentioned by DeVry University (2018), “The influence of Roman architecture can be seen throughout America. Many courthouses, especially the U.S. Supreme Court building, are reminiscent of Roman temples. Completed in 1935 and designed by Cass Gilbert, the Supreme Court building is raised in a podium and approached from a front staircase with freestanding columns only in the front of the structure” (para 2).
DeVry University (2018). Week 2, Greco-Roman Influences (online lesson). Downers Grove, IL: DeVry Education Group. Retrieved from: https://devryu.instructure.com/courses/19691/pages/week-2-lesson?module_item_id=2599387.
I found your post to be extremely informative and detailed. I have not had the chance to read chapter 2 to its entirety. I did not know that the concrete was a Roman invention. This class just started and already I have found that many thing that we use today including democracy and concrete initially took place in the ancient Rome and Greek times. I love how the Romans took their own ideas and married them with the ideas of ancient Greece and created some of the most beautiful architectures that we see today.
I too did not know that the Romans were credited with inventing concrete. To think about how one material was able to shift and change the world of architecture and the modern world. Things like arches and more intricate designs were able to be erected with this material. There has also been studies done to learn from the Romans concrete has stood the test of time. Jenkins (2017) looked at how the composition of concrete differed between now and then and how the Romans use of volcanic ash, along with the reaction that was made with the sea water, created mortar to develop between the cracks of the concrete sea walls. This reaction was due to the minerals mixture of silica oxides and lime. Additional studies are being conducted to see how we can better model our concrete off the Romans.
Jenkins, A. (2017). Scientists Have Figured Out How Ancient Rome's Concrete Has Survived 2,000 Years. Time.Com, 62.
Professor and Classmates,
Thanks, due to the "reflections" project, I now have my eyes a little more opened to Greco-Roman influences in architecture in today's times. These influences (Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian Greek orders) can be found throughout our U.S Capitol Hill. Buildings including the U.S. Capitol, the Supreme Court Building, and others. I knew that they were Greek-inspired, but now knowing a little more of the different styles, I can now work on identifying which time period they were influenced during. The Old Senate Chamber, located in the U.S. Capitol Building, "is a two-story room modeled after the amphitheaters of antiquity. Eight Ionic columns of variegated marble quarried along the Potomac River" (Architect of the Capitol). In Ancient Greek times, the marble used was often a white marble. It all depends on where the marble is quarried. It is very hard for me to believe that people do not believe in a God. I'm sorry, but how amazing it is to have such varied beautiful earth materials available to us. Materials that are not the same and indigenous to different places. How blessed are we to be able to use these materials. Materials that stand the test of time and people that have the ability to quarry them and build upon them. This causes me to feel awe-inspired.
Architect of the Capitol, Ionic columns. Retrieved from https://www.aoc.gov/capitol-hill/architecture-columns/ionic-columns
You are right that the Old Senate Chamber has both Grecian and Roman influences which can be seen in the lay-out or floor plan: an amphitheater lay-out inspired from Roman architecture and Iconic, Corinthian
Columns of the chamber are inspired from Grecian architecture.
- Sayre, H. (2013) Discovering the Humanities 2nd Upper Saddle, NJ: Pearson
I share your same sentiment. When we look at these beautiful buildings, whether in the U.S or ancient Rome or Greece, how can we not believe in God. Not only did he create these beautiful materials but he gave us the vision to be able to use it in a way that is just breathtaking. I personally find marbles to be exquisite.
Influences of culture from ancient Rome and Greece include that of the Capital Buildings on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. The main features of the architectural style are that of neoclassical. This building was inspired by the Roman-Greek revival. The use of tall columns with different shapes, triangular and symmetrical and the domed roof top takes on the look of an ancient Roman temple. When the Capitol was under construction to make it larger Georgia marble was used on the exterior instead of sandstone to make it sturdier so it would not deteriorate. During the War of 1812 the Capitol building was sent on fire by British troops. So during the reconstruction it was also fire proofed with the use of cast iron when construction of a a new dome to make it more proportioned to the new wings that were added. Today the Capitol building is 175,170 square feet with the floor the size of 16.5 acres (n.p.s. ,gov, n.d.). The Pantheon of Rome also has cylindrical or spherical shaped dome top which is said to be 144 feet in diameter. This is the largest in Europe since the 20th century. This was said to be the temple of all gods with Roman sculptures engraved in the interior walls (Sayre,2103). The Pantheon has scriptures using raised bronze lettering that was an abbreviated type of Latin . It was a portico with tall columns with circular halls. It was decorated with statues of gods. The dome was divided into 28 sections with the equal amount of columns. 28 is one of the 4 perfect numbers that were used , known in antiquity. They were seen as mystical and religious and were seen as being connected with the cosmos(Ranogagic,2015).
n.p.s. gov., n.d.. Washington D.C. US Capitol. Retrieved from https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/wash/dc76.htm
Ranogagic, Paul M.D. ,2015. The Pantheon. Smart History. Retrieved from https://smarthistory.org/the-pantheon/
Sayre, H. M. (2013). Discovering the humanities (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.Hello Jill,
I really enjoyed reading your post. You included some great information on the Capital Building on Capital Hill and how they compare to Rome and Greece architecture. I have not had a chance to go to Washington, DC to visit these great buildings but I plan to go there soon. The Pantheon of Rome sounds very interesting and impressive too. When trying to build something beautiful, Roman architecture is the way to go.
Very interesting that Georgia marble was used for the Capitol! As we have learned, marble was used in the creation of Roman-Greek temples. Because cast iron was utilized in reconstruction, do you feel that the infrastructure of the Capitol is stronger? I feel using cast iron to fireproof was a smart idea because of protecting the President and other confidential government files. Also, due to the size of the White House, cast iron will help to maintain a strong structure.
-Megan LesniakGood Morning Professor and Class,
According to our week two lectures, the influence of Roman architecture can be seen throughout America. Many courthouses, especially the U.S. Supreme Court building, are reminiscent of Roman temples. Completed in 1935 and designed by Cass Gilbert, the Supreme Court building is raised in a podium and approached from a front staircase with freestanding columns only in the front of the structure. The outer surface of the building is comprised of white marble chosen to mirror the power of the architecture of the Romans and Greeks. It is no surprise that American courthouses echo Roman temples, because the roots of the American legal system stem from Roman law, and Latin is still the language of the law today.
Pierre Charles L’Enfant, who was commissioned in 1791 by George Washington to design the capital city, used Roman planning as the basis for the design. The Mall, with its axial design that leads from the Capitol building to the Lincoln Memorial, is based on Roman fora.
- Sayre, H. (2013) Discovering the Humanities 2nd Upper Saddle, NJ: Pearson