Vitruvius Human Scale Influences Generations

Topics: Vitruvius, Ionic order, Corinthian order Pages: 6 (1752 words) Published: April 20, 2012
Architectural History 1 – Essay 1 Ben Pringle

[Vitruvius Human Scale Influences Generations]


Vitruvius Human Scale Influences Generations
The classical antiquity period was a host to mythology, arts and influential rulers of the era. The first and most well documented treatise analysis of architecture in the 1st Century was De Architectura. Vitruvius, author and military architect, dedicated to his commander Augustus Caesar these 10 volumes encompassing a corpus relating to aspects of Greek and Roman architecture (McEwen. 2003). From analysing Book IV, Chapter 1this essay makes a clear correlation in terms of how Vitruvius presented these mythological origins of the Greek and Roman orders. It will show how Vitruvius‟s account of the orders was influential in understanding Greek Architecture and finally how De Architectura influenced the styles, buildings and architects of Italian Renaissance period. In this essay it will be argued that he had a profound influence on architects of the Italian renaissance and his symbolism of human form and scale was defining factor in understanding Greek architecture and mythology. These three orders, discussed by Vitruvius, benchmarked architecture from classical antiquity to the present. ‘The Origins of the Three Orders and the Proportion of the Corinthian Capital’ is a broad overview of the 3 categories of columns, which are segregated by size, form and mythological symbols, relating to human form. The chapter examines the Doric, Iconic and Corinthian with firstly the origins and basic mapping of where the names originated. Basic dimensioning of the orders is explained in terms of measurements, which pertain to human form. According to the mythology of each order, their relationships are linked to characteristics symbolising human form. When constructing the temple of Apollo Panionios, a proportional system of measurement needed to be used for structural integrity (Vitruvius. 2009). Similarities and symbolic meaning were made in relation to proportion, strength and grace of the male body in the structure. This was calculated by the measurement of a man‟s foot being 1/6th of his height, and applying this same ratio to the diameter of the bottom of the shaft and capital. Second to the Doric order, and sometime later, initial treatise were still prevalent. The Ionic order was spawned with the construction of the Temple of Diana. Architects made the diameter of the column, an 1/8th of the height, making it taller in appearance. A shoe replaced the base, and on the capitol, volutes were placed on either side. Columns were decorated with fruit around the convex moulding, and flutes led vertically to the shaft of the column (Vitruvius.2009). The column, slender in comparison to the Doric column, depicted the shape of a woman. Volutes and fruit moulding, symbolised the curls of long hair draping the column. Flutes portrayed the folds of robes, worn by married women (Vitruvius. 2009). The Ionic order represents the feminine grace, modularity and elegance in deference to its masculine Doric profile. 1|P a ge Image 1: Orders of Columns

With the establishment of the two main orders, Doric and Ionic, the third order was invented. The Corinthian progression, from the embellished features of the Ionic order, resulted in slender features of proportion to diameter, but with more aesthetic detail to the capital and abacus. Rows of leaves and stalks occupied the majority of the capital, with the introduction of four flowers at each side of the column, creating its definitive form. The columns symbolism is in correlation to a virgin female. Mythology of the Corinthian, order relates to a virgin citizen of Corinth, dying at a young age. Her grave is bestowed with her treasured loving cups. The cups are so situated, that they sit directly on the top of an acanthus root. A tile is placed on top to protect them. The root splits at the base of the cup, growing leaves and flowers around...

References: AnonA, 2012, San Andrea Church, viewed 25/03/2012
Chitham. R , 1985, Classical Orders of Architecture, Architectural Press Ltd, London.
Kruft, H. W, 1994, A history of architectural theory: from Vitruvius to the present, Princeton Architectural Pr. New York.
McEwen. I. K, 2003, Vitruvius : Writing the Body of Architecture, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Pr. Massachusetts.
Palladio. A, 2007, “The Four Books of Architecture”, in Sykes. A. K (ed), The Architectural Reader: Essential writings from Vitruvius to the present, George Braziller, Inc. New York. pp 64.
Vitruvius. M, 2009, „The Origins of the Three Orders, and the Proportion of the Corinthian Capital‟, in Schofield. R (trans.), Vitruvius On Architecture, Penguin Classics, London
Classical Styles of Columns - Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian Architecture, n
Anon. 2008 "Vitruvius Pollio." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography, viewed 29/03/ 2012 <>
Robertson. D. S, 1943, Greek and Roman architecture, second edition, Cambridge University Pr. London.
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