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Oriental Influences on Greek Temple Architecture

. . is perhaps the most perfect of the Greek architectural Orders and certainly, in its own setting of sharp hills and violent foreground lights and shadows, in a landscape full of detail, with milky distances, always changing with the light from honey gold to violet and dim rose, the most perfectly satisfactory architecture to Western twentiethcentury eyes . . . The architects of the Doric Order came newly to the use of stone: they had no mason's tradition on which to base their designs and calculations. As a result, for three centuries they underestimated its strength so that the cost of the great temples of the sixth and fifth centuries was enormous in materials and labour. During all this time proportions were changing, perspectives being corrected by the use of a new knowledge of optics, problems were being solved, but always the same features which make up the Doric Order, and which derive directly from the earlier temples of wood and mud-brick, remained: and all this time the Order was flowering, each great temple receiving its god and holding him trapped within its cella so that the purely architectural majesty of the building as increased by the accepted presence of a great unknown.

Only when the economic proposition was resolved, when the structure became as light as the stone would bear, was all the majesty lost, the flowering over (Ayrton 145-6).


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