The classical orders
The classical orders

Architecture is a language. And you know how when you
learn a new vocabulary word, you start to notice it, for
the first time, everywhere? Well, the same thing
happens with architecture. When you learn a new
architectural form, you start to see it everywhere. DR. BETH HARRIS: And
that’s especially true of the classical orders. Because these are
what are, essentially, the building blocks of
Western Architecture. And they’ve been
used for 2,500 years. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER:
We’re basically talking about styles
of architecture that the ancient Greeks
had developed mostly for their temples. And you’re right, that
we’ve continued to use. DR. BETH HARRIS: And we’ve got
several contemporary examples up along the top. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER: But
what’s important to remember is that it’s just a
fancy dressing, really, of a basic, ancient
building system. DR. BETH HARRIS: So we’ve
brought in Stonehenge, to illustrate that ancient,
building system called post and lintel architecture. This is the most fundamental,
most basic, oldest kind of architectural system. The posts are the
vertical elements and they support a horizontal
element called a lintel. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER:
And you know what? We still use this
basic system when we nail two-by-fours together. And that’s what the
Greeks were doing. But they were doing in a
much more sophisticated way. DR. BETH HARRIS: Right. They developed
decorative systems. And that’s what we’re
referring to when we use the term
classical orders. There are three basic
orders, the Doric, the Ionic, and the Corinthian. There’s a couple
extra, but we’re not going to go into those today. But we’ve listed
them here for you, just so you know what they are,
the Tuscan and the Composite. So the Doric and
Ionic and Corinthian are illustrated,
here, in this diagram. First the Doric, and the
Ionic, and then, the last two are Corinthian. These are just slight variations
of these three orders. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER: And the
Doric is really the most simple. The Ionic, a little
bit more complicated. And then, the Corinthian,
completely out of control. DR. BETH HARRIS: So let’s
start with the oldest order, the Doric order. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER:
Right, and we think that this order began
in the seventh century, on the mainland in Greece. And we’re looking at
an actual Greek temple that happens to be in Italy. But nevertheless, is
just a great example of the Doric in
the classical era. DR. BETH HARRIS: Let’s start
at the top, with the pediment. The pediment isn’t,
officially, part of the order. But since Greek
temples had, at one end or the other, a
pediment, we just thought we would
name that for you. And that’s that triangular space
at the very top of the temple. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER: Right. These are gabled roofs. Sometimes they would be
filled with sculpture. DR. BETH HARRIS: The next
area, below the pediment, is actually, officially
part of the order. And that’s called
the entablature. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER:
OK, so that would be the area from
about here to here. DR. BETH HARRIS: And the
top part of the entablature is called the frieze. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER: OK, so
only this part, right here, is known as the frieze. So in other words,
this whole section. DR. BETH HARRIS: Right,
and in the Doric order, it is decorated in a
very specific way, using triglyphs and metopes. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER:
Now, actually, if you look at
the word triglyph, you’ll notice that
the prefix is tri. Just like tricycle,
it means three. And its suffix,
glyph, means mark. So a triglyph, literally,
means three marks. And you can see patterns of
three marks moving all the way across the frieze. DR. BETH HARRIS: And then,
in between the triglyphs are spaces that
are called metopes. And in ancient
Greek architecture, these were often
filled with sculpture. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER: Now the
triglyphs we don’t think are just arbitrary. We think that they
probably came from a time when temples were
built out of wood. And these would
have been the ends of planks that would
have functioned as beams in the temple. And they would have, of
course, been supported directly over the columns. You’ll notice that every
other one, at least, is aligned directly
over the columns. DR. BETH HARRIS: So as
we move down the temple, the next area we come
to is the Capital. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER: And
this is a Doric capital. It’s very simple. It’s got a flare. And then it’s got a
simple slab on top. DR. BETH HARRIS: So the Doric
is the oldest, and most severe, and was associated, according
to the ancient Roman architectural historian,
Vitruvius, most masculine form. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER: It
is broad, it’s not tall, and it feels heavy. DR. BETH HARRIS: It does. As we continue to move
down, we come to the area that we commonly call the
column but art historians call the shaft. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER: And
if you look closely, you can see that it
is not entirely plain. There are, actually,
vertical lines that move across the entire
surface known as flutes. Now, in the Doric, a
flute is very shallow. And really, what it is,
is it’s a kind of scallop that’s been carved
out the surface. DR. BETH HARRIS: And
what fluting does is, it creates a nice,
vertical, decorative pattern along the shaft. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER: Now, one
of the other defining features of the Doric order is that,
at the bottom of the shaft, there is no decorative foot. The shaft of the
column goes straight into the floor of the temple. DR. BETH HARRIS: And
you can see that really well in the detail on the
lower right, where there is no molding there
to make a transition. So let’s have a look at what
these look like in person. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER:
Capitals are up high so we would never see
a person next to them. But I think it’s easy to not
realize just how big they. But I snapped this
terrific picture of you at the British Museum next to
a capital that actually comes from the most
famous Doric temple, on the Acropolis in Athens. DR. BETH HARRIS:
Right, the Parthenon. And they really are massive. And this photo is good,
also, for seeing– in this case, a
reconstruction– but giving you a sense of the entablature
with that frieze with triglyphs and metopes. And we’ve got an
example, on the right, of a relief sculpture
that was for one of the metopes on the Parthenon. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER: Right,
so this metope, here, would have actually fit right
in one of these squares. DR. BETH HARRIS: Let’s
talk about one last element that we find in
Doric architecture. And that’s something
called entasis. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER: Now,
this is a little tricky. Because I think
most people assume that a column is
straight up and down. That is, the sides of a column
are parallel with each other, and the base of a column
is just as wide as the area directly below the capitol. But in fact, the
ancient Greeks didn’t build their temples that way. DR. BETH HARRIS: No. It’s fascinating to
think about all the ways that the ancient
Greeks are thinking about how to make their
buildings beautiful, and speak of the
realm of the gods. And so, when we look at
an ancient Doric temple, we see that the shafts swell a
little bit toward the center. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER: So right
about a third of the way down, they would be at their widest. And it would taper, ever so
slightly, towards the bottom, and taper much more so
as we move up the top. So that the narrowest
point of the column shaft would be right at the top. And the widest part
would be about one third of the way from the base. DR. BETH HARRIS:
And so, the building has a sense of
liveliness that I think it wouldn’t have if
the column was exactly the same width at the
top as at the bottom. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER:
Architectural historians have debated why the
Greeks bothered to do this. Because this was expensive. This was difficult. It meant that every drum
that makes up this column has to be an individual,
unique piece. These could not be
mass-measured and mass-produced. DR. BETH HARRIS: So you
just used the word drum. So the columns
are not, actually, carved from one piece of stone. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER: And if
you look very carefully at this photograph,
you can just make out the seams between those drums. They would, also,
have generally been a hole that would have gone
through the center of each of these pieces. So that a piece of wood,
sometimes, would actually string them together, almost
like beads on a necklace. One of the other things
that entasis does is to emphasize the
verticality of the temple. Because they get narrower
as they go further up, it seems as if the
shaft of the column might actually be taller
than it really is. Because of course, as
things move away from us, they get smaller in scale. DR. BETH HARRIS:
So the Greeks are thinking about human perception. They’re thinking
about how we see, not just an abstract idea
of math and geometry, but actually, human
experience, which says something about
ancient Greek culture. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER:
One last detail– the entasis gives the
shaft of the column a sense of, almost,
elasticity, that it is bearing the weight of the
stone above it. DR. BETH HARRIS: It’s really
fascinating to think about all of these decisions
that the Greeks are making as they build. So let’s look at the Ionic
order, which emerges shortly after the Doric order. Here’s another building
of the Acropolis, this is the Erechtheion. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER: This is
such a different aesthetic. There’s such a sense
of delicacy here. There is not that sense of mass,
that sense of the muscularity of the buildings that we
associate with the Doric. DR. BETH HARRIS: And in fact,
Vitruvius the ancient Roman architectural
historian, saw this as a more feminine order–
it’s taller, it’s thinner. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER: Now, one of
the columns from this building in Greece is in the
museum in London. We have some good
photographs of it. DR. BETH HARRIS: And you can
see the distinguishing feature really is at the top,
at the capital, where we see these scroll-like
shapes, also known as volutes. We also see a slightly
different type of fluting. And we also,
importantly see a base. Let’s move to the
Corinthian order. This looks really different
and is the most decorative. And the distinguishing
feature here is, again, the capital, where
we see leaf-like shapes. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER:
They also have bases. They tend to be taller than
the Doric, just like the Ionic. But they are highly decorative. There’s a great myth about
the origin of the Corinthian capital. DR. BETH HARRIS: It’s
a kind of fun story. Of course, we have no
idea whether this is true. But the story is that there
was a young girl who died. And her possessions
were placed in a basket and put on top of her grave. Underneath that basket
was a acanthus plant that began to grow. And because the heavy
basket with the tile on top was on top, the acanthus
leaves grew out the side. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER: Well, if we
look at a Corinthian column, it really does look like that. DR. BETH HARRIS: It
looks exactly like that. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER: And so, it’s
a great myth, whether or not it’s true. So the Corinthian order
is the most complex. It includes both
the scroll, that we would expect to
see in the Ionic. DR. BETH HARRIS: The volutes. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER: Right. But also these very
complex leaf-like forms, which you
can just make out here, which is actually
from the acanthus leaf. And we have a photograph of an
acanthus leaf right down there. DR. BETH HARRIS: And these
grow wild so it makes sense. DR. STEVEN ZUCKER: What’s
important to remember is that the ancient Greeks,
although they developed these three classical orders,
were just the genesis. The Romans took
these ideas over. And then, subsequently,
people who’ve looked back to the
classical tradition have borrowed from
them yet again. And we still do this today. And there you have it. The Greek orders.

83 thoughts on “The classical orders”

  1. FLAN says:

    thanks a lot, I like your lectures…. they are very informative
    thanks a gain from SAUDI AEABIA

  2. David Kiff says:

    Thanks for this video, really Informative!

  3. spljicna says:

    Thank you for all your videos i watched them all with joy.

  4. melang164 says:

    Super cool videos you have here. Much thanks from Singapore

  5. TheCristian5443 says:

    im here cause of mr.ferraro

  6. Jesenia R says:

    very informative, thank you

  7. BJM Graphics says:

    Reminds me of my art history class. Very informative with great detail.
    This video can be helpful for 3D artist or Minecraft builders.

  8. Nip pop says:

    i am an architecture student, and your videos really helps me a lot , thank you. 😀

  9. Romi Lozano says:

    A very good detailed analysis of the Doric. Nonetheless it is regrettable that the presentation of ionic and Corinthian was a bit rushed towards the end of the video. So much should be said about the base and the fluting, the frieze .  Also a video regarding the Tuscan the Composite and the much later developed Colossal order would be more than appreciated;  Great work. 

  10. Shelcea305 says:

    Thank you  very very much

  11. jordan hamilton says:

    It was amazing

  12. N0.MercY- says:

    Thanks very informative video. I have a test on this in AWH

  13. Kratos Rox says:

    thank you

  14. Akhil Prasad says:

    Thank you, great video!

  15. ARH ART says:

    Thank you very much for the good information! so helpful!

  16. Gaude Moran says:

    I just learned so much more then in school!😮

  17. Juan Navarro says:

    Thank you for making us understand these things in a more clear and fun way.

  18. Scott Awaywithit says:

    a bricklayer will see bad brickwork everywhere….occasionally….he will delight in good.

  19. C_turtle says:

    Once again, your style is so didactic and easy to understand! A must for students of art history!

  20. cervus says:

    This is great, thank you. I learned about all this in school, but this refreshed it nicely, since I forgot some … 🙂

  21. simplebudd says:

    I could never thank you enough for this presentation. This could be presented solely by itself in art history class.
    I use it as a wrap after my lecture which moves at a slower pace with illustrations.


  22. HerreraCam says:

    Thank you!

  23. اميمه بركاة says:

    اكتبو عربي

  24. Barry Xu says:

    So nice. Very helpful !!!

  25. Mettaton EX says:

    thanks! this helped me big time!

  26. yacine aouimeur says:

    that was sooooo helpful, i needed this too much for my project, thank you doctors.

  27. Timmy O'toole says:

    Awesome clip however The Minoan would be worth a mention as the Minoans were a huge influence on all Greek art & the Palace of Knossos has probably the oldest Greek columns in existence

  28. Luxus Häuser says:

    Nice video. Nice narrative duet.

  29. Julius Leviathan says:

    This was very helpful and well explained, thank you!

  30. Yannis Makridis says:

    Very well explained, you do such a brilliant job drs. I didn't know about the basket myth 🙂 Thank you!

  31. aaron teodoro says:

    Compared to School discussion about this topic, this video makes me listen attentively.

  32. Espacio Arquitectura says:

    Excelente vídeo muy sintético pero a la vez completo.

  33. DonatusFuscus says:

    I'm just wandering if there is a transcript of the video so I could edit it and translate it into spanish for my students. Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and valuable resources.

  34. Luxus Häuser says:

    Who was the girl in the Corinthian story? Any ideas?

  35. Kk A says:

    Thank you so much for making this video. I am currently taking art history online and I was finding it very hard to understand the classical orders and this video has helped me a lot with understanding the vocabulary and and the orders in general.

  36. Vanessa Navari says:

    You guys saved me of my exam of history of art

  37. Jayden Nimick says:


  38. Rebecca x says:

    Your video on Ravenna helped me on my research for Galla Placidia. Thank you. This is also wonderful.

  39. Portfolio _cs says:

    Excellent voice cover

  40. zanmirrob says:

    This was absolutely brilliantly explained. Keep up the good work. From Australia.

  41. Marshall Bodiker says:

    lovin' it

  42. AntPDC says:

    According to classical architect George Saumarez Smith, Schools of Architecture stopped teaching the Classical Orders 50 or so years ago. That's pretty telling, judging by the corpus of modern architecture.

  43. Eric Anderson says:

    Not just B.C. but B.C. with an E.An improvement.

  44. thoithoi Thoudam says:

    Thank u .. really helpful for my Architectural study

  45. ເຈ້ຍຊົງ ຊົງ says:

    I want to learn how to draw Parthenon

  46. ເຈ້ຍຊົງ ຊົງ says:

    and draw slowly

  47. ເຈ້ຍຊົງ ຊົງ says:

    can you draw a picture of Parthenon for me and make a video slowly

  48. freemancarl says:

    @ 3:32 If you go back in time the architectural wisdom back then is all about megalithic stone structures. It existed far more ancient than the Mayan civilization & the great pyramids of Egypt. I got a huge respect for the great people who constructed them because until now they haven't figured out the masonry behind those ruins.

  49. Joel Quinto says:

    nice presentation! thumbs up!:)

  50. Classical Music says:

    Why did they never talk about the crazy amounts of color these ancient buildings had?

  51. Narendra Suryavanshi says:

    vv good

  52. Meenal Jain says:

    I have my exam tomorrow and this is so helpful. Thank you so much for this video!!

  53. Thomas Wu says:

    This is great for our greek lesson.

  54. Cristian Marquez says:

    how was it made?,what tools , what preparation, what was the process??

  55. Ewellyn Santos says:

    Bela explicação!

  56. An aristocrat says:

    Here in malaysia in quite common to find a corinthian-type pillar in village area

  57. moongirl786 says:

    I thought the frieze was the continuous carving, kind of like a comic strip, on the inner entablature in the Parthenon, the one that portrays the civic procession, while the the triglyphs and metopes were the decoration on the outer entablature but were not also referred to as a frieze. That was what I took away from the exhibit at the British Museum anyway, I'm not an architecture or art history student, just curious 🙂

  58. Jon Hipolito says:

    I love the voice of the lady.

  59. dragonmartijn says:

    5:24 The Parthenon is a mixed style building: there are also Ionic colums at the inside (at the actual Parthenon).

  60. Tim Slee says:

    These orders are completely ignored today. How far we have regressed.

  61. bubba pinks says:

    I wish we had more variety in our architecture. I know it's probably not financially viable for a business to want to look like an ancient greek temple but it would be a great local landmark and would be nice to see. There is a masonic temple in Guthrie, Oklahoma that has the Doric columns with a base. It's one of the most unique looking buildings in our entire state.

  62. Jaclyn Dolaghan says:


  63. Spintop says:

    I'm not learning architect but I find this very interesting.

  64. Playground Justice says:

    Tapered columns allow more light into the structure.

  65. Karl Striepe says:

    Thankfully, there's an unforgettable mnemonic acronym to remember the three basic classical orders: DIC. Can't forget that test.

  66. Christian Brin says:

    Thanks for tutorial great video greatly appreciated.

  67. yi zhang says:

    Hey, S&B, I am in China, and I've been watching your videos recently day and night, thank you for openning up a wonderful world for me!

  68. maui free diver says:

    loved it, do you have sample column i can barrow for a while 🙂

  69. Malts Design says:

    I love you

  70. Timothy Foster says:

    Interesting. What about Byzantine Architecture? Are they pre-Romanesque Architecture of the Roman architecture?

  71. Timothy Foster says:

    Was Byzantine architecture before Roman architecture?

  72. Yen Duldulao says:

    very detailed and nice explanation but some facts are wrong
    e.g entablature's top part is the cornice and frieze is actually in the middle .

  73. pi hermoso says:

    6:50 As far as the Doric column is concerned, the narrowest part of the shaft is at the top while it is widest two thirds way down to the base…. i'd say the inspiration for it would be a PENIS, that's just about the most intelligent guess that would make sense…

  74. Paolo says:

    Thanks for this education! The Corinthian capitals are the genesis of the foliated crockets on the Cologne Cathedral. With the ability to become even more detailed, these ideas could potentially become fractal; with more details upon details until the sculptor couldn't see small enough.

  75. El Amiri says:

    So helpful, thank you very much!

  76. AYA Legendary says:

    look at cambodia building LOL

  77. Elwin van Wees says:

    Could the reason for the entasis be ease of construction of symmetry? I get that it's a lot of work to do this, but anyone who has done any building knows how hard it is to make something perfect especially if something is smooth, straight, perfectly round, …
    Therefore in construction, you often use tricks to get around that. Concrete is often finished with a broom to get some texture, but also to hide imperfections or any other technique that is used to hide the construction method.

    In this case, as it's super hard to make a perfectly smooth straight collum, they tampered the collum and used the flutes to hide the imperfections of the stone….

  78. Gokhan Ermerak says:

    This viseo is why my parents didnt send me to school: "Son, sit in your room and watch YouTube. Its your school", they said. It made me the man I am today – perpetually unemployed and a bum, yet so full of information, that I delight people who invite me to dinner parties.

  79. Kombinatsiya says:

    Almost all education related to architecture starts with the orders but I've always thought it was done in a disjointed and boring way. Rarely is it explained why a bunch of pillars matter so much and what their existence says about history and the people that made it happened.

  80. O V H says:

    I think 1 of the reasons the columns are more narrow at the top is because of the optical illusion they play in making the temple look taller/bigger. Godly Temples need to impress lowly mortals. Making the colums appear so tall as to narrow to the human eye is 1 way to deliver a knock out punch to humans.

  81. Antisocial Freak says:

    Thank you so much, I really needed this.

  82. south korea Han says:

    한국 자막이 나와서 좋네요

  83. Jon Zeno says:

    The entablature consists of: cornice, frieze, and architrave. They did not mention the cornice or the architrave. The architrave, the beam below the frieze, is actually the lintel that defines this architecture a post and lintel.

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