Greek Architecture the Center of Humanism
Simple line and form of Greek architecture is what makes it so beautiful and is why classic Greek designs have stood the test of time copied over and over. Inspiration taken from the human form, architecture created a delicate balance, very similar to the skeletal structure of the human body, a harmonious blend of elements that create a sense of stability. “Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity.” – Plato
Greek architecture, strongly influenced by humanism is demonstrated in the buildings of Ancient Greece. Imagine designing a building to broadcast the success of your people to the world; using twenty-two thousand tons of marble might be one way. The Parthenon, is a massive structure, measuring one hundred feet wide by two hundred twenty-eight feet long and forty-five feet high. Using the tools and knowledge of the time, Greek architects had the intellectual ability to tackle such a feat and a good eye for design. They were very creative in the spacing and height of the columns in relation to the size of the building itself. They used techniques to trick the eye giving the illusion of a straight line when it is actually curved ever so slightly. Using the “Golden Ratio” and scaled for humans, “the great monuments of classical architecture were designed to serve the living” (Fiero 123) to enjoy and to take pleasure in, not built to benefit the afterlife like in other cultures.
The Parthenon proudly sits at the top of the Acropolis in Athens dedicated to the Goddess, Athena. Commissioned by Pericles, and structural designs by Architects, Ictinus, and Kallicrates they broke ground in 447 BCE and completed the building by 438 BCE (Cartwright). Ictinus and Kallicrates along with sculptor/designer Phidias constructed the Temple in Classic Greek style primarily in the Doric order with simple baseless columns and capitals, eight across the front and back (instead of the usual row of six) and seventeen lined each side of the building in a symmetrical pattern. The Ionic order used in the design of the Parthenon is found in the elaborate inner frieze carved in low relief, that ran around the top of the cella. The life-size sculpted figures that filled the pediment from corner to corner is more evidence of the impact humanism had on Greek architecture. Many of the sculpted pieces, from the Parthenon where excavated by the seventh Earl of Elgin, Thomas Bruce, a British ambassador to the Ottoman court. The pieces are known as the Elgin marbles sold to the British government in 1816 and now on display in the Duveen Gallery at the British Museum in London. Greece wants the sculptures returned, but Britain stands firm that they have legal ownership and ultimately saved the pieces from further destruction if they would have been left behind on the Acropolis. The Parthenon was initially planned to house the enormous statue of the Godd...