The immediate visual impression of the Parthenon rests with the line of columns supporting the lintel roof. The columns taper off toward the top, which acts to emphasize the slender character of each column. The building itself has a front porch and an interior cella. Inside the cella stood a statute of the patron goddess of Athens, Athena. Although modern scholars often speculate at the furnishing of the interior of the Parthenon, the actual decoration remains speculative (Greer 68-72).
The Roman Pantheon however, was quite different. From an exterior view, the structure is somewhat unimpressive. Once inside though, it opens up into an enormous, well lit, domed space. Light flows in from the oculus, a thirty foot opening in the center of the roof which is over 143 feet above the floor (Janson 135-136). The spaciousness of the interior could only have been created by sacrificing the quality of the exterior. "Indeed, the Pantheon itself is the classic example of. . . the centrally planned building [designed] to support a circular dome" (Brilliant 49).
The basic styles of architecture are initiated by the technique or type of form used. For instance, Greek architecture is most closely associated with the column and colonnade, while Roman architecture by the arch and vault. The columnar style externalizes architecture and lends itself to more of an ornamental character. The arch and vault lend themselves more to an interior perspective, but also have greater structural advantages.
The development of the Roman arch and vault, considered by many to have been the chief architectural contribution of Rome, are structurally more sound than the post and lintel construction used by the Greeks. The arch and vault carry far heavier loads, at the same time they create large internal spaces without the [Greek] need for additional supporting columns within a central space. Unlike the columns, elaborately decorated to offset the ...
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