Architectural Theory : Vitruvius, On Architecture, Book 4

Architectural Theory
Volume 1 - An Anthology From Vitruvius to 1870
edited by: Harry Francis Mallgrave
A. Classical and Medieval Traditions

On Architecture, Book 4

- The Origins of the Three Orders, and the Proportions of the Corinthian Capital

1. Corinthian columns aside from its capital, is the same proportion as an Ionic column. The height of its capitals makes them proportionately taller and more slender. Corinthian capitals are as thick as their shaft; while Ionics is only a 1/3.

2. Above the Corinthian capital there are no distinguishable features. It borrows from the Doric and/or Ionic columns. It may have mutules in the coronae and guttae on the architraves, or detailed friezes with dentils and corona; respectfully.

3. The Corinthian order is a mix of Doric and Ionic orders. The Doric was the first order. “Dorus, the son of Hellen and the nymph Phthia, he was king of Achea” (13) started the order unbeknownst to him while building a temples in Juno at Argolis and Achaea all with the same columns.

4. The commander-in-chief of the Athenian 13 colonies sent into Asia Minor was named Ion. He was the son of Xuthus and Creusa.

5. The Ionians drove out the Carians and Lelegans, began rebuilding for the immortal gods. They wanted “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 Dorians” (13).

6. Having no directions on symmetry or proportion. The Ionians had to come up with a way “that they could render them fit to bear a load and also of a satisfactory beauty of appearance” (14). They started with the only ruler they had, a man. Measuring his foot and calculating that it is 1/6th of his frame, they applied this principle to the column. They included a capital “to a height six times its thickness at its base” (14). The Doric column represents the proportion, strength and beauty of the body of a man.

7. The Ionians built a temple for Diana, using their new found measurements. Instead of adding the male characteristics, they decided to soften the look making it more feminine. They began by making the column one 8th of its height. At the foot of the column they added a shoe. At the capital volutes were added “hanging down at the right and left like curly ringlets…they brought the flutes down the whole shaft, falling like folds in the robes worn by matrons” (14). They were able to translate the delicacy, adornment and proportions characteristic of women.

8. Establishing the proportions: 7 diameters of the thickness as the height of the Doric column, and nine as that of the Ionic. The Ionians originated the orders; therefore, naming it Ionic.

9. The story of the Corinthian order starts with Corinth. She died at the height of her life. Her nurse brought to her grave all the things that made her happy in life in a basket.

10. Callimachus saw the tomb and was amazed by the style and form. He built columns after this pattern and “established from that time forth the rules to be followed in finished works of the Corinthian order” (14).

*These notes/writings I've taken from reading the stories in the book which I purchased for the arch theory class ARC1201.  I am posting this so I can have easy access to the material and spread my knowledge of the readings to others.
I am no expert if anything is wrong or misrepresented please let me know.

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