Greek Temple Architecture and Linkeriffica of Antiquity
June 19, 2003 5:05 AM   Subscribe

Greek Temple Architecture: They were houses--houses for cult statues, storehouses of treasures given to the gods--they were not churches. Worship consisted, by and large, of sacrificial ritual--animal sacrifice: killing animals and eating them, for the most part--and, hence, it was done out of doors. The Internet Ancient History Sourcebook's Accounts of Hellenic Religious Beliefs and Accounts of Personal Religion give additional flavor and context. Greek religious architecture evolved from wooden structures and was tradition bound--they built in stone as they had in wood according to variations on a traditional canon called the orders, first and foremost, the Doric Order , the Ionic Order and the Corinthian Order. Here are some restorations. I love restorations, on paper or models rather than at the actual sites. The first in a series.
posted by y2karl (15 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's not the abundance of wine or the roasting of meat that makes the joy of sharing a table in a temple, but the good hope and belief that the god is present in his kindness and graciously accepts what is offered.

Plutarch, Moralia
And speaking of the actual sites, here is Metis - a Quicktime VR Interface of Greek Archeological Sites. Also used here or highly recommended are Webacropolis, The Museum of Reconstruction, Encyclopedia Romana, Bill Thayer's wonderful LacusCurtius: Into The Roman World, Jona Lendering's Livius, The Ambrose Collection of Classical Mythology Slides, and...
[Kermit the Frog] now I'd like to give a big Muppet Show welcome to the two greatest classical image sites in the world: Lantern Slides of Classical Antiquity and Ashmolean Museum's Cast Gallery of Greek and Roman Sculpture from the incomparable Beazley Archive. Yay!! [/Kermit the Frog].
*waves arms wildly in air while gyrating from side to side*
posted by y2karl at 5:06 AM on June 19, 2003 [2 favorites]

Good stuff. :)

Some more at Architecture in Ancient Greece from the Met's Timeline of Art History. Still more at the ancient Greece page on this huge art history resource.
posted by plep at 5:20 AM on June 19, 2003

I rather like the oracular inscriptions--from the shrine at Dodona, I believe--at the end of the Accounts of Personal Religion for their transcendental mundanity:

 1. Shall I receive the allowanI rather like the oracular inscriptions--from the shrine at Dodona, I believe--at the end of the Accounts of Personal Religion for their transcendental mundanity:

  1. Shall I receive the allowance?
  2. Shall I remain where I am going?
  3. Am I to be sold?
  4. Am I to obtain benefit from my friend?
  5. Has it been granted me to make a contract with another person?
  6. Am I to be reconciled with my children?
  7. Am I to get a furlough?
  8. Shall I get the money?
  9. Is my lover who is away from home alive?
10. Am I to profit by the transaction?
11. Is my property to be put up at auction?
12. Shall I find a means of selling?
13. Am I able to carry off what I have in mind?
14. Am I to become a beggar?
15. Shall I become a fugitive?
16. Shall I be appointed as an ambassador?
17. Am I to become a senator?
18. Is my flight to be stopped?
19. Am I to be divorced from my wife?
20.Have I been poisoned?


posted by y2karl at 5:51 AM on June 19, 2003

posted by y2karl at 5:52 AM on June 19, 2003

Great batch of links, y2karl. Matt probably never envisioned that people would be bookmarking MeFi threads for use as research tools. Let me know where I can buy the complete y2karlclopedia when it's released...
posted by vraxoin at 6:04 AM on June 19, 2003

The Foundation of the Hellenic World has these 3d reconstructions / virtual representations of cities, objects and buildings (quicktime required for some of the exhibits/projects). Includes "a walk through ancient Miletos". It's worth checking out.
posted by talos at 6:14 AM on June 19, 2003

Karl, what a gift...I'll be on this thread for ages. I just spent a happy half hour or so at the Powerhouse Museum 3-d restoration, and then went back to click on the link only to find that it was only one of multiple links in the word - wow! (It is the "a" in restorations for any who might look for it.) I am loving the restorations, and haven't even scratched the surface of your other links yet. Great topic, impeccably researched - thanks!
posted by madamjujujive at 6:59 AM on June 19, 2003

oops...the 3-d site I referenced is actually the second "t" not the "a."
posted by madamjujujive at 7:01 AM on June 19, 2003

A different kind of antiquity-related reconstructions can be found at the Thessaloniki Museum of Technology: Ancient Greek Technology .
These include (all links are to .ram files):
"Isplix - A starting barrier used in races.
Heron's Odometer - A mechanism to measure distances.
Water wheel - A revolving wheel to raise water.
Portable sundial - A device to measure time at a given place.
Heron's Mobile Automaton - A self-propelled machine."
I hope the real media files work! I have seen them from home, but from where I'm posting I'm limited to the damn Windows Media Player.
posted by talos at 7:39 AM on June 19, 2003

But the a is great too! Those views of the Temple of Hera at different times of day and from different angles are amazing; this night view by firelight sends a shiver up my spine. Great stuff as always, y2karl, and I join in your love of restorations!
posted by languagehat at 8:56 AM on June 19, 2003

Here is a diagram of the sight angles of the various temples on the Athenian Acropolis, and here is the view, both beginning from the Propylaea, the gateway to the sacred precinct. The ancient Greeks thought the most aesthetically pleasing view of a temple was a 3/4 angle which showed two sides. In their tenemos, buildings were arranged to present such views from one beginning point.

This was worked by the modern day Greek architect Constantinos Doxiadis, who called this system ekistics. From a synopsis of his doctoral thesis Architectural Space in Ancient Greece.

A later article, The Ancient Greek City and The Modern City elaborates another reason Greek temple architecture is so pleasing--the buildings are built to a human scale:

Synopis: Man was dominant within the framework of the ancient city because it was built according to human dimensions. The modern city, on the contrary is torn between humans and machines and thus man is displaced in favour of machines. The ancient city-states were created in two fashions: the older ones through natural growth whereas the newer ones by the Hippodameian system. Despite their differences, the concept hidden behind both building processes was the same: To take advantage of the natural landscape and to create both public and private spaces according to rational and functional considerations with man at the center. In the cities of the present, by contrast, both human dimensions and coherence among men and among buildings are lost. What men need to do is first, to adhere to human dimensions and create smaller units where man is the master and second, to use machines as the means to control larger units where mechanical dimensions prevail. In other words, to create cities for man.
posted by y2karl at 10:15 AM on June 19, 2003

Also, we must note the refinements. Had the temples been built with straight lines, optical illusions would have made them appear deformed. The refinements are mathematical corrections that correct this. There are no straight lines--as discussed in Dr. J's Parthenon lecture--from Professor janice Siegel's Dr. J's ultr-mega-site Illustrated Guide to the Classical World. Sacred Geometry, Refinements of Form & the Two Parthenons provides another discussion. This page for the exhibition From Pentelicon to the Parthenon shows how the Parthenon marble was quarried, transported to the Acropolis, shaped, and erected. This comes via the links page of the Parthenon Home Page, which has another great Image Archive of buildings on the Acropolis in Athens, part of Acropolis Resources at Willamette University in Oregon. Here's a vocabulary word to remember: entasis.
posted by y2karl at 10:47 AM on June 19, 2003

That was from Aaron's Illustrated Glossary of Architecture & Decor. And here is Greek Art and Architecture--another ultra-mega image archive for you bookmarkers. OK, I'll stop now...
posted by y2karl at 10:53 AM on June 19, 2003

On some kind of equal time principle, let's hear from Empedocles (fl. 450 B.C.). He grew up among the great temples of Acragas. As y2karl's links show, a temple complex of this importance meant never-ending rivulets of animal blood. Well, Empedocles had this funny idea that souls transmigrated from one species to another, giving him this dire perspective on Greek sacrificial religion:

The father lifteth for the stroke of death
His own dear son within a changed form,
And slits his throat for sacrifice with prayers—
A blinded fool! But the poor victims press,
Imploring their destroyers. Yet not one
But still is deaf to piteous moan and wail.
Each slits the throat and in his halls prepares
A horrible repast. Thus too the son
Seizes the father, children the mother seize,
And reeve of life and eath their own dear flesh.

P.S. What does it say about the differences among national book-publishing cultures that you can get the whole work from which I just cited a fragment, Empédocle, Les purifications: Un projet de paix universelle (Greek text, translation, and commentary by Jean Bollack), in a nifty brand-new paperback, for US$12.69?
posted by Zurishaddai at 12:28 PM on June 19, 2003

Here many neckless heads sprang up. Naked arms strayed about, devoid of shoulders, and eyes wandered alone, begging for foreheads. But when they mingled, these things came together as each happened and many others in addition were continuously born.

Many grew double headed, double-chested - man-faced oxen arose, and again ox-headed men - creatures mixed partly from male partly from female form, fitted with dark limbs.

Ah, yes, Empedocles--I always liked his creation myth...
posted by y2karl at 1:32 PM on June 19, 2003

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