The development of Greek temple architecture
"Throughout the history of the human race, architecture, the mother of all arts, has supplied shrines for religion, homes for the living, and monuments for the dead." (1) As far as history can record it has been in the nature of man to assign all natural occurrences beyond his reasonable understanding to the power of a god living in a plane higher than human beings. It has been primarily for the worship of such gods that man built temples. The building of temples, therefore, is the direct outcome of religion. During the early civilization of ancient Egypt, from about 5,000 B.C., temples were built mainly for traditional and mysterious rites performed by kings and priests, The Greek temple, on the other hand, was in the main a structure for housing a god whose image was placed in the 'naos', which forms the nucleus of the temple plan. The sacred architecture of the Greeks explores and praises the character of a god or group of gods by the development of the building as a sculptural embodiment of their presence. The meaning of the temple thus expressed may be said to be dual: first as an expression of the deity as in nature and also of the god as imagined by men. The deity, Apollo, for instance, was regarded as the patron of medicine and music. He was a god of archery, and connected with flocks and herds. Greek authors and artists portray him as a definite and glorious figure, the ideal type of young manhood and of a higher moral development than all the others except Zeus. It is not surprising therefore that in the Temple of Apollo epicurius at Basease, for example all the orders: Doric, Corinthian, and Ionic have been used. In another temple at Miletus Ionic capitals ornamenting the naos wall are of varied design. The bases of the peristyle columns are also of varied design. The temple of Zeus, father of the gods and supreme ruler, god of the phenomena of the atmosphere, stands majestic at Olympia, with sturdy external columns equal to those of the Parthenon in height, but greater in diameter. The temple of Zeus Olympius at Agrigentum is the second biggest Creek sacred building. Athena was the goddess of wisdom, peace, power and prosperity. She was regarded in art as a stately virgin, beautiful but severe face and grey eyes and of powerful yet graceful figure. It is well, then, that the most perfect Greek temple, the Parthenon is built as a fitting shrine for peaceful Athena. It was on temples that the Greeks spent most of their energies to build and this was carried to its climax alongside developments in literature, art and political institutions. The architecture is systematic and "reflects each stage of Greek history with remarkable acuracy."(1) The elements are the same but basic proportions are varied and refined to produce pleasing visual effects. What they achieved has been a great influence in the lands around the Mediterranean, and to a great extent through Rome to all Europe. It is very important, therefore, that all students of the arts and architecture, indeed of civilization, carefully consider the developments in Ancient Greece, with particular reference to temples, being the most important buildings during this period* The above title is chosen in order to briefly investigate and appreciate the influences on and the development of temple architecture particularly during the Hellenic period (700 B.C. - 146 B.C.). More attention will be devoted to work done between 430 B.C. and 323 B.C. during which period Athenian prosperity reached its climax.
This is a thesis submitted to the College of Architecture and planning, 1964