We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Building a Legacy

The whole doc is available only for registered users
  • Pages: 5
  • Word count: 1138
  • Category: Pride

A limited time offer! Get a custom sample essay written according to your requirements urgent 3h delivery guaranteed

Order Now

As the Dark Ages ended in Greece, a new wave of intellectual thinking and craftsmanship emerged that resulted in a legacy of architectural design. Because they were now ruled by groups of aristocratic citizens and tyrants, the people of Greece no longer needed to build palaces for kings. Instead, they focused on building other public buildings; most notably, temples. The significance of magnificent temples in Greek life cannot be underestimated. Greek temples were intended to house the individual gods and goddesses who protected and nurtured the community. Honor and deference to the deities was shown by using a fundamental principle of their culture: arete, which is the pursuit of excellence and achieving maximum potential (Carr, n. pag.). To that end, the temples reveal stylized elements and decorative details created by highly skilled and talented architects and craftsmen. The Greeks had a reciprocal relationship with their gods. Both the citizens and the gods had responsibilities to each other. To ensure the gods continued to provide good fortune, it was important to honor them regularly. Each city-state usually provided land in a prominent location, usually on the highest elevation in or near the city.

This provided a visual cue for the citizens when sacrifices, religious ceremonies and festivals took place; but it also provided a strategic defense position if the city came under attack. One of the earliest examples of Doric temples in ancient Greece is The Temple of Hera at Olympia, also called the Heraion. “According to a tradition recorded by Pausanias, it was built by Oxylus, the leader of an Aetolian invasion of Elis about 1100 BC.” (Robertson, 62) Robertson went on to say that additional digging revealed that the temple burned (implying it was originally made of wood), that it had been rebuilt at least twice, and that the third temple (the current remains) was built of stone around 600 BCE. While many archeologists and historians believe this is true, archaeologist Philip Sapirstein presents a different view, concluding that through examination of the site, recently developed photogrammetry technology, and the writings of Pausanias, “the Heraion’s peristyle was very likely stone from the beginning”. (Sapirstein, 565) In either case, all agree the Heraion was one of the first peristyle Doric temples. The Heraion is a large sanctuary with the stylobate measuring 169 feet long, 63 feet wide, and 50 feet high, making it both longer and narrower than prior architecture. (“Classics”, n. pag.)

There are 6 stone columns on each end and 16 along each side that are all noticeably different from each other. Differences in size and carving could be the result of replacing wood columns as they deteriorated, or it could be the result of different craftsmen, perhaps from different city-states, contributing to the finished structure. Similarly, the capitals also display differences in size, shape, and age. None of the entablature survived; however, it would have been typical to feature triglyphs and metopes in the frieze. Walls are made of mudbrick on a base of stone and the roof was covered with terracotta tiles. “The fact that the Heraion’s columns are made of stone, which is expensive and labor intensive, signifies a major expansion of the investment the Greeks put into building a monumental structure.” (Lobell, 1) As Greek city-states continued to amass great wealth over the next few centuries, competition and rivalry between city-states became more intense, and temples became grander and more opulent. Pericles, who was general of Athens during the Golden Age, promoted the arts and literature, creating a reputation in Athens as the educational and cultural center of Greece.

He was responsible for the ambitious rebuild of the monumental architectural project known as the Acropolis. The buildings of the Acropolis brought glory to the city of Athens and provided both beauty and protection to the city, as well as long-term jobs for its citizens, strengthening their sense of pride and accomplishment. (Psarra, 96) This site includes some of the most noteworthy architecture, including the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Erechtheion, and the Temple of Athena Nike. The Erechtheion is probably the most unusual and required a complex building plan that accommodated the extremely uneven ground along with several sacred shrines, including the grave of Kekrops, the first King of Athens according to legend. (Theacropolismuseum, n. pag.) The Erechtheion, dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon, was built around 420 BCE of marble on a limestone base and its elements were fashioned in the Ionic order. Distinctive features include an asymmetrical layout, different facades on each side, two different floor levels, three chambers, and two porches.

The south porch features six caryatids, sculpted female figures elaborately draped that serve as columns supporting the entablature. The frieze was made from black limestone and was decorated with marble sculpture depicting gods, heroes, and mortals. (Theacropolismuseum, n. pag.) The interiors of Greek temples were typically not public gathering spaces but areas for rituals, emphasizing the distinction “that gods and humans resided in separate worlds.” (Psarra, 82) It is not known who may have been allowed access inside the Erechtheion, but the informal design suggests a “weak boundary between daily life and the divine order”. (Psarra, 89) In addition to honoring Athena and Poseidon, the Erechtheion also housed sacred artifacts of the battle between them over who would be the presiding deity over Athens. According to legend, Poseidon struck the ground with his trident, creating a jagged scar where a saltwater spring bubbled up. Following his example, Athena then struck the ground and an olive tree grew from it.

The olive tree was determined to be the most valuable gift to the city and Athena was proclaimed the winner and reigning goddess of Athens. (“Athena”, n. pag.) These temples, built to glorify the gods and goddesses as well as the city-states, were a source of tremendous pride for the citizens. The Acropolis structures “brought Greek architecture to a level of refinement unparalleled in the classical world.” (Harrington, 44) From the haphazard sizes and shapes of the columns at the Temple of Hera to the elaborately sculpted caryatids and complex design of the Erechtheion, it is evident that the skill and knowledge of the artisans and architects improved tremendously from the beginning of the Archaic period through the Golden Age of Athens. If rivalry between city-states “was responsible for many of the highest achievements of Greek culture, the notion of civic pride produced in the end a series of destructive rivalries that ended Greek independence.” (Cunningham, Reich and Fichner-Rathus, 101) It is unfortunate that Athens and Sparta destroyed each other, virtually marking the end of this period of inspired creativity. However, the achievements in Greek building; from the simple, unadorned stone columns of the Temple of Hera – Olympia to the complex floor plan and intricately sculpted caryatids of the Erechthion continue to amaze, inspire, and influence the art and architecture of the modern world.

Related Topics

We can write a custom essay

According to Your Specific Requirements

Order an essay
Materials Daily
100,000+ Subjects
2000+ Topics
Free Plagiarism
All Materials
are Cataloged Well

Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email.

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.
Sorry, but only registered users have full access

How about getting this access

Your Answer Is Very Helpful For Us
Thank You A Lot!


Emma Taylor


Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?

Can't find What you were Looking for?

Get access to our huge, continuously updated knowledge base

The next update will be in:
14 : 59 : 59