Greek Corinthian Columns
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Corinthian Columns

Corinthian Capital
(from the Pantheon in Rome)

October 2016 - By 400 BC, Greek architects had added a third type of column to the old Doric and Ionic styles. People called the new style the Corinthian column, after the city of Corinth. The Greeks never actually used the Corinthian column that much, but the Romans, who liked fancier buildings, used it a lot.

Corinthian order
Roman temple in the Corinthian style,
at Nimes in southern France.

The Corinthian style is fancier and heavier than the Ionic style. In Corinthian temples, the columns have a fancier base to stand on. At the top of the columns, on the capital, there's a stone carving of acanthus leaves, under the architrave (ARR-kuh-trayv). On the architrave, as in Ionic temples, there is a continuous frieze where the triglyphs and metopes would be on a Doric temple.

One example of a Corinthian temple is the Pantheon. Another is the Temple of Castor in the Roman forum, and a third is this temple at Nimes, across the Alps in France.

Learn by doing: walk around town and look for different kinds of column capitals
More about Doric Architecture
More about Ionic Architecture

Bibliography and further reading about Greek architectural orders:

Ancient Greek Architects at Work, by J. J. Coulton (1982). An interesting look at how Greek architects worked.

Greek Architecture, by A. W. Lawrence, R. A. Tomlinson (5th edition 1996). Might be a bit out of date.

More about Ionic capitals
More about Doric capitals
More about the Pantheon
More Greek Architecture
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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