Space and Society in the Greek and Roman Worlds (Key Themes in Ancient History) by Michael Scott

Space and Society in the Greek and Roman Worlds (Key Themes in Ancient History) by Michael Scott

Author:Michael Scott [Scott, Michael]
Language: eng
Format: azw3
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Published: 2012-11-30T00:00:00+00:00

Architecture, art and trade

If the urban spatial layout of Syracuse and Corinth does not prove to be an arena in which satisfactory comparisons can be made, what can we say about the varying conceptions of architecture and architectural space developed in the two cities? The geographical region around Syracuse is renowned for the fact that it produces a limestone that closely resembles Greek poros stone (cf. Mertens 1990: 374). While this may well, as a result, have produced built structures that had a greater visual affinity with their Greek mainland counterparts, there were also several crucial points of difference between Syracuse’s architecture and that of its metropolis that would have impacted on the sense of distance between them.

In contrast to the Doric temple of Apollo constructed at Corinth soon after the middle of the sixth century BC (Dinsmoor 1927: 87), at Syracuse, through to the end of the sixth century, a very ‘Syracusan’ style of architecture developed. For example, the style of much of the surviving archaic revetment material from the early sixth century BC is unique to Syracuse (Barletta 1983: 71). The temple of Apollo, constructed on Ortygia c.565 BC (Figure 4.1), shows an ‘independence from rigid specifications of mainland Doric models’ (Barletta 1983: 73). Coulton has moreover argued for the creation of a specific ‘Sicilian rule’ for the design of the temple stylobate in contrast to the rule for the Greek mainland (Coulton 1974: 82–3). In addition, Sicilian builders made a particularly emphatic use of stone: the stone columns are huge and accompanied by a dedicatory inscription in which, uniquely, the architect specifically responsible for the columns boasts about them as ‘beautiful works’ (Berve and Gruben 1963: 416; Mertens 1990: 378). During the course of the sixth century, the Eastern Mediterranean influence on Syracusan architecture increased substantially. The temple of Zeus Olympius (c.555 BC), the stepped altar of Athena in the Athenaion on Ortygia (550–525 BC), along with the never-completed Ionic temple parallel to the later temple of Athena (525–500 BC), all demonstrate significant Eastern, particularly Samian and Ephesian, influences (Barletta 1983: 78, 86–8; Holloway 1983: 271; Cerchiai et al. 2004: 206).

It is not only the style of the architectural elements that creates this very individual Syracusan look, but the overall conception of architectural temple space as well. The internal architecture of the temple of Apollo at Syracuse, for example, was so arranged as to maximise open space (Mertens 1990: 379), in a way very different from that seen on the mainland (Mertens 1996: 324), and particularly in the temple of Apollo at Corinth (cf. Figure 4.2). Yet this may be more than simply a ‘willingness to accept external influences’ (Mertens 1990: 383). Such a change in the architectural space of the temple has been explained by a possible difference in ritual practice from that of the mainland (Barletta 1983: 75). It has also been attributed to a subtle shift in the purpose of monumental sacred architecture. Whereas monumentalisation in mainland Greece arguably signalled the central importance of


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