The Ten Books on Architecture, 3.3

Vitruvius  translated by Joseph Gwilt

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Of the Five Species of Temples

3There are five species of temples, whose names are, PYCNOSTYLOS, that is, thick set with columns: SYSTYLOS, in which the columns are not so close: DIASTYLOS, where they are still wider apart: ARÆOSTYLOS, when placed more distant from each other than in fact they ought to be: EUSTYLOS, when the intercolumniation, or space between the columns, is of the best proportion.

2PYCNOSTYLOS, is that arrangement wherein the columns are only once and a half their thickness apart, as in the temple of the god Julius, in that of Venus in the forum of Cæsar, and in other similar buildings. SYSTYLOS, is the distribution of columns with an intercolumniation of two diameters: the distance between their plinths is then equal to their front faces. Examples of it are to be seen in the temple of Fortuna Equestris, near the stone theatre, and in other places.

3This, no less than the former arrangement, is faulty; because matrons, ascending the steps to supplicate the deity, cannot pass the intercolumniations arm in arm, but are obliged to enter after each other; the doors are also hidden, by the closeness of the columns, and the statues are too much in shadow. The passages moreover round the temple are inconvenient for walking.

4DIASTYLOS has intercolumniations of three diameters, as in the temple of Apollo and Diana. The inconvenience of this species is, that the epistylia or architraves over the columns frequently fail, from their bearings being too long.

5In the ARÆOSTYLOS the architraves are of wood, and not of stone or marble; the different species of temples of this sort are clumsy, heavy roofed, low and wide, and their pediments are usually ornamented with statues of clay or brass, gilt in the Tuscan fashion. Of this species is the temple of Ceres, near the Circus Maximus, that of Hercules, erected by Pompey, and that of Jupiter Capitolinus.

6We now proceed to the EUSTYLOS, which is preferable, as well in respect of convenience, as of beauty and strength. Its intercolumniations are of two diameters and a quarter. The centre intercolumniation, in front and in the posticum, is three diameters. It has not only a beautiful effect, but is convenient, from the unobstructed passage it affords to the door of the temple, and the great room allowed for walking round the cell.

7The rule for designing it is as follows. The extent of the front being given, it is, if tetrastylos, to be divided into eleven parts and a half, not including the projections of the base and plinth at each end: if hexastylos, into eighteen parts: if octastylos, into twenty-four parts and a half. One of either of these parts, according to the case, whether tetrastylos,hexastylos, or octastylos, will be a measure equal to the diameter of one of the columns. Each intercolumniation, except the middle one, front and rear, will be equal to two of these measures and one quarter, and the middle intercolumniation three. The heights of the columns will be eight parts and a half. Thus the intercolumniations and the heights of the columns will have proper proportions.

8There is no example of eustylos in Rome; but there is one at Teos in Asia, which is octastylos, and dedicated to Bacchus. Its proportions were discovered by Hermogenes, who was also the inventor of the octastylos or pseudodipteral formation. It was he who first omitted the inner ranges of columns in the dipteros, which, being in number thirty-eight, afforded the opportunity of avoiding considerable expense. By it a great space was obtained for walking all round the cell, and the effect of the temple was not injured because the omission of the columns was not perceptible; neither was the grandeur of the work destroyed.

9The pteromata, or wings, and the disposition of columns about a temple, were contrived for the purpose of increasing the effect, by the varied appearance of the returning columns, as seen through the front intercolumniations, and also for providing plenty of room for the numbers frequently detained by rain, so that they might walk about, under shelter, round the cell. I have been thus particular on the pseudodipteros, because it displays the skill and ingenuity with which Hermogenes designed those his works; which cannot but be acknowledged as the sources whence his successors have derived their best principles.

10In aræostyle temples the diameter of the columns must be an eighth part of their height. In diastylos, the height of the columns is to be divided into eight parts and a half; one of which is to be taken for the diameter of the column. In systylos, let the height be divided into nine parts and a half; one of those parts will be the diameter of a column. In pycnostylos, one-tenth part of the height is the diameter of the columns. In the eustylos, as well as in the diastylos, the height of the columns is divided into eight parts and a half; one of which is to be taken for the thickness of the column. These, then, are the rules for the several intercolumniations.

11For, as the distances between the columns increase, so must the shafts of the columns increase in thickness. If, for instance, in the aræostylos, they were a ninth or a tenth part of the height, they would appear too delicate and slender; because the air interposed between the columns destroys and apparently diminishes, their thickness. On the other hand, if, in the pycnostylos, their thickness or diameter were an eighth part of the height, the effect would be heavy and unpleasant, on account of the frequent repetition of the columns, and the smallness of the intercolumniations. The arrangement is therefore indicated by the species adopted. Columns at the angles, on account of the unobstructed play of air round them, should be one-fiftieth part of a diameter thicker than the rest, that they may have a more graceful effect. The deception which the eye undergoes should be allowed for in execution.

12The diminution of columns taken at the hypotrachelium, is to be so ordered, that for columns of fifteen feet and under, it should be one-sixth of the lower diameter. From fifteen to twenty feet in height, the lower diameter is to be divided into six parts and a half; and five parts and a half are to be assigned for the upper thickness of the column. When columns are from twenty to thirty feet high, the lower diameter of the shaft must be divided into seven parts, six of which are given to the upper diameter. From thirty to forty feet high, the lower diameter is divided into seven parts and a half, and six and a half given to the top. From forty to fifty feet, the lower diameter of the shaft is to be divided into eight parts, seven of which must be given to the thickness under the hypotrachelium. If the proportion for greater heights be required, the thickness at top must be found after the preceding method;

13always remembering, that as the upper parts of columns are more distant from the eye, they deceive it when viewed from below, and that we must, therefore, actually add what they apparently lose. The eye is constantly seeking after beauty; and if we do not endeavour to gratify it by proper proportions and an increase of size, where necessary, and thus remedy the defect of vision, a work will always be clumsy and disagreeable. Of the swelling which is made in the middle of columns, which the Greeks call ἔντασις, so that it may be pleasing and appropriate, I shall speak at the end of the book.

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