THE Doric was the order in which the full strength and the complete refinement of the artistic character of the Greeks were most completely shown. There was a great deal of the spirit of Egyptian art in its aspect; but other nationalities contributed to the formation of the many-sided Greek nature, and we must look to some other country than Egypt for the spirit which inspired the Ionic order.

Ionic Order Origins

This order seems to have been brought into Greece by a distinct race, and shows marks of an Asiatic origin. The feature which is most distinctive is the one most distinctly Eastern—the capital of the column. The column is always ornamented by volutes, i.e. scrolls, which bear a close resemblance to features similarly used in the columns found at Persepolis. The same resemblance can be also detected in the moulded bases, and even the shafts of the columns, and in many of the ornaments used throughout the buildings.

Shaft of Ionic

Column showing the Flutes

Fig. 67.—Shaft of Ionic Column showing the Flutes.

Showing palmette and honeysuckle design

Fig. 68.—Ionic Capital. Front Elevation.

Showing palmette and honeysuckle design

Fig. 69.—Ionic Capital. Side Elevation.

Ionic compared with Doric

In form and arrangement, an ordinary Ionic temple was similar to one of the Doric order, but the general proportions are more slender, and the mouldings of the order are more numerous and more abundantly enriched. The column in the Ionic order had a base, often elaborately and sometimes singularly moulded (Figs. 74, 75). The shaft (Figs. 67, 70) is of more slender proportions than the Doric shaft. It was fluted, but its channels are more numerous, and are separated from one another by broader [104] fillets than in the Doric.

The distinctive feature, as in all the orders, is the capital (Figs. 68, 69), which is recognized at a glance by the two remarkable ornaments known as volutes. These generally formed the faces of a pair of cushion-shaped features, which could be seen in a side view of the capital. But sometimes, volutes stand in a diagonal position. And in almost every building they differ slightly.

The abacus is less deep than in the Greek Doric, and it is always moulded at the edge, which was never the case with the Doric abacus.

The entablature (Fig. 70) is, generally speaking, richer than that of the Doric order. The architrave, for example, has three facias instead of being plain. On the other hand, the frieze has no triglyphs, and but rarely sculpture. There are more members in the cornice, several mouldings being combined to fortify the supporting portion. These have sometimes been termed “the bed mouldings,”. Among them, occurs one which is almost typical of the order, and is termed a dentil band. This moulding presents the appearance of a plain square band of stone, in which a series of cuts had been made dividing it into blocks somewhat resembling teeth, hence the name dentil. Such an ornament is more naturally constructed in wood than in stone or marble. But if the real origins of the Ionic order, as of the Doric, be in fact from timber structures, the dentil band is apparently the only feature in which that origin can now be traced.

The crowning member of the cornice is a partly hollow moulding, technically called a “cyma recta,”. It is less vigorous than the convex ovolo, of the Doric. This moulding, and some of the bed mouldings, were commonly enriched with carving. Altogether, more slenderness and less vigour, more carved enrichment and less painted decoration, more reliance on architectural ornament and less on the work of the sculptor, appear to distinguish those examples of Greek Ionic which have come down to us, as compared with Doric buildings.

Fig. 70.—The Ionic Order. From Priene, Asia Minor.


Fig. 71.—Ionic Order. From the Erechtheium, Athens.


Fig. 72.—North-west View of the Erechtheium, in the Time of Pericles.

The most numerous examples of the Ionic order of which remains exist are found in Asia Minor. But the most refined and complete is the Erechtheium at Athens (Figs. 72, 73), a composite structure containing three temples built in juxtaposition, but differing from one another in scale, levels, dimensions, and treatment.

The principal order from the Erechtheium (Fig. 71) shows a large amount of enrichment introduced with the most refined and severe taste. Specially remarkable are the ornaments (borrowed from the Assyrian honeysuckle) which encircle the upper part of the shaft at the point where it passes into the capital, and the splendid spirals of the volutes (Figs. 68, 69).

The bases of the columns in the Erechtheium example are models of elegance and beauty. Those of some of the examples from Asia Minor are overloaded with a vast number of mouldings, by no means always producing a pleasing effect (Figs. 74, 75). Some of them bear a close resemblance to the bases of the columns at Persepolis.

Plan of the Erechtheium

Fig. 73.—Plan of the Erechtheium.

Ionic Base from the Temple of the Wingless Victory

Fig. 74.—Ionic Base from the Temple of the Wingless Victory (Nikè Apteros).

Ionic Base Mouldings from Priene

Fig. 75.—Ionic Base Mouldings from Priene.

Temple of Diana in Ephesus

The most famous Greek building which was erected in the Ionic style, was the Temple of Diana at Ephesus. This temple has been all but totally destroyed, and the very site of it had been for centuries lost and unknown until the energy and sagacity of an English architect (Mr. Wood) enabled him to discover and dig out the vestiges of the building. Fortunately, sufficient traces of the foundation have remained to render it possible to recover the plan of the temple completely. Also, the discovery of fragments of the order, together with representations on ancient coins and a description by Pliny, have made it possible to make a restoration on paper, of the general appearance of this famous temple, which must be very nearly, if not absolutely, correct.

The walls of this temple enclosed, as usual, a cella (in which was the statue of the goddess), with apparently a treasury behind it. They were entirely surrounded by a double series of columns, with a pediment at each end. The exterior of the building, including these columns, was about twice the width of the cella. The whole structure, which was of marble, was planted on a spacious platform with steps. The account of Pliny refers to thirty-six columns, which he describes as “columnæ celatæ” (sculptured columns). The fortunate discovery by Mr. Wood of a few fragments of these columns shows that the lower part of the shaft immediately above the base was enriched by a group of figures—about life-size—. They were carved in the boldest relief and encircled the column. One of these groups has been brought to the British Museum, and its beauty and vigour enable the imagination partly to restore this remarkable feature. It certainly was one of the most magnificent ways of decorating a building by the aid of sculpture ever attempted. And the effect must have been rich beyond description.

It is worth remarking that the Erechtheium, which has been already referred to, contains an example of a different, and perhaps a not less remarkable, way of combining sculpture with architecture. In one of its three porticoes (Fig. 72), the columns are replaced by standing female figures, known as caryatidæ, and the entablature rests on their heads. This device has frequently been repeated in ancient and in modern architecture, but, except in some comparatively rare examples, the sculptured columns of Ephesus do not appear to have been imitated.

Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

Another famous Greek work of art, belonged to the Ionic order. To Mr. Newton we owe the recovery of the site, and considerable fragments of the architectural features, of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. It was one of the ancient wonders of the world.

The general outline of this monument must have resembled other Greek tombs which have been preserved, such as the Lion Tomb at Cnidus. The plan was square. There was a basement. Above this an order, and above that a steep pyramidal roof rising in steps, not carried to a point, but stopping short to form a platform, on which was placed a quadriga (or four-horsed chariot). This building is known to have been richly sculptured, and many fragments of great beauty have been recovered. Indeed it was probably its elaboration, as well as its very unusual height (since the Greek buildings were seldom large), which led to its popularity.