Gymnasiums and Architecture of Greece Term Paper

Pages: 12 (3733 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Construction  ·  Written: December 15, 2018

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For example, the columns featured a height to base diameter ration of 9:1 compared to the height to base diameter ration of 6:1 of Doric Order buildings. The Ionic entablature was also lighter than the Doric one (Construction and Estate Management 52).

3. The Corinthian Order

Unlike most of Doric Order structures and Ionic Order structures that were primarily wooden architecture, the Corinthian order was different. It is considered an improvement of the Ionic Order and it is thought to have begun in the mid-5th Century. Initially, the Corinthian Order was not much different from the Ionic Order particularly in terms of style and proportion. However, the Order was certainly different in terms of more decorated and stylish capitals. The capital of each column was significantly deeper than the Ionic capital and the Doric capital. It was styled in the shape of a large mixing bowl and had a two rows of acanthus leaves below voluted tendrils that provided support for the abacus. This unique style column capital is thought to have been founded by a man by the name Callimarchus from Corinth. It is thought that he was inspired by a basket of offerings that he saw on top of a grave. The basket is thought to have had a tile cover to protect the offerings and that it was at the base of an acanthus plant that up growing around it (Construction and Estate Management 53).

Corinthian Order buildings were much lighter than those of the Doric Order and those of the Ionic Order. This can be seen in their average column height to base diameter ratio of 10:1. The capital was also much more elaborate and occupied about 10% of the column height (Construction and Estate Management 53).

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These different types of Greek architectures Orders played an important role in the development of gymnastic architecture.

Architecture of the Gymnasium

Term Paper on Gymnasiums and Architecture of Greece Assignment

The architecture of the gymnasium was a very important architectural style that was already fairly common by the turn of the 2nd century BCE. The typical Greek gymnasium at that time was a significant construction that featured buildings with columns (stoas) and steps to sit and talk. The gym was known as gymnasion in Greek. This term was interchangeable with the term palaistra although the term palaistra meant a gym specially made for wrestling. Apart from the training, fighting or sporting areas and the columns, other architectural elements of the 2nd century gymnasium included prayer rooms, fountains, oiling rooms, bathtubs, and cold running water. In typical Greek fashion, some gymnasiums also had special rooms for studying (Kyle 56).

As time went by, more and more elements were added to the Greek gymnasium. They included running tacks (paradromis) nearby. In some cases, running tracks were covered to protect sportsmen and women from weather elements. In prosperous Greek cities such as Olympia, Priene and Pergamon, complete stadiums were purposely built for running. Back then the Pergamon gymnasium was a sight to behold. This is because it was one of the largest stadiums covering over thirty thousand square meters. As time went by, architects started adding decorative sculptures of gods whom they regarded as the patrons for their gyms. In other cases, statues of wealthy merchants or rulers who had financed the construction or maintenance of the gymnasium were also added (Kyle 58).

Most of the time, the typical Greek gymnasium was a public building that was built, owned, operated and maintained by city authorities. In most cases the cities appointed a public official to operate the gym. The public official was known as the gymnasiarch. The earliest gymnasia were places men, sometimes naked, would stretch and exercise and then perhaps take a bath at an indoor gym bath facility or at an adjacent fountain house. In some cases, men would just sit and talk or educate each other as was typical in most Greek cities. Some gymnasia also had study rooms where philosophers and other teachers would come to give interesting lectures (Hirst para 18).

In the past Gymnasia were used for military training, military drills, public events, court hearings, exhibitions, and executions. In some cases, gymnasia were also used as venues for statement murders/ massacres. For example, there is a case when a military leader assembled the senators and aristocrats at the Timoleonteum gymnasium for slaughter. It was in later cases, when they increasingly became specific for Olympic training (Hirst para 18). The new athletic-type gyms were surrounded by Doric Order columns and athletes primarily trained in the middle. Some were circular, some were hemispherical, while others were square (Hirst para 18).

The Palaestra was one of the most common types of gyms in the Hellenistic and Roman eras. Renowned Roman author, Vitruvius, describes the Palaestra in his work Ten Books of Architecture. In his description, Vitruvius begins by stating that the fact that the Palaestra is not extremely common in Italy and that it is in Greece where it is constructed most uniquely. He describes the construction as typically oblong or square. He then goes ahead and states that the Palaestra should be constructed in such a way that its training circumference makes a walk of two stadia. The Greeks used to refer to this circumference as ???????. Vitruvius then describes the construction of the columns by saying that three columns should be singular but the fourth on the south side should be double to prevent the weather elements from getting in (Villanova University para 1).

In the three columns, one should build spacious recesses and as well as seats for rhetoricians, philosophers, and learners to discuss according to Vitruvius. This shows the purpose of the original Greek-style gymnasiums was not just to train and host competitions but also to be used as places for intellectual discourse. Furthermore, the extra functions or facilities expected in the basic Greek palaestra gymnasiums included halls, a wash room, an anointing room, a cold bath room, a furnace room (sweating bath), and a warm washing room (Villanova University para 1). There was a style in which all these rooms were to be arranged; a set architectural style to be adhered to. This style is what architects replicated resulting in the same architectural style/ building style.

For the outer part of the Palaestra, Vitruvius also go into details describing how everything should be laid out in relation to the colonnades. He describes how the running tracks ought to be laid it out. Vitrivius also discusses what needs to be done to ensure that those who are not training or competing do not obstruct those who are training or competing (Villanova University para 3). Vitruvius also describes special colonnades as part of the outer structure that the Greek call ??????. This special colonnade is supposed to provide cover for athletes to continue excersing even during winter. The author also describes a xysta area in which the athletes can also exercise. Behind the xysta Vitruvius talks of setting a stadium that can seat many people and with a direct viewing of the places of training or competition where athletes are contesting (Villanova University para 4).

Impact of Ancient Olympic Games on Gymnasium Architecture

From the late 6th century and onwards, the Greek city of Athens was producing Olympians who were winning games in local gymnasiums. It is thought that most of the athletes used to train in the same local gymnasiums. It is thought that hero cults and funeral games led to the development and the conversion of agoras (public places) into simple athletic facilities. It is also thought that there may have been private gymnasiums around Athens where wealthy athletes trained. From funeral games and hero cults games developed throughout Greece. The development of games heavily influenced the concurrent development of training and competing facilities gymnasia. In other words, as the athletic events increased, so did the gymnasium architecture.

The tyrants who ran Greco-Roman cities and provinces also helped with the rapid development and definition of Greek gymnasium architecture. They are thought to have sponsored such events to keep populations busy and distracted, and to increase their popularity. Some of them developed gymnasia in sanctuaries for public recreational activities. The increase in popularity of gymnasium saw them getting included on vase paintings and other types of paintings of the sixth century. The wars between the Greek city states and Persia are thought to have led to the destruction of most Greek gymnasia and destroyed much of the evidence of how such facilities were built and what they included (Kyle 15).

In pre-Hellenistic times, most gymnasia were mainly for training and for sports. However, as time went by more and more non-sporting functions were hosted at gymnasia. For example, from the 5th century onwards, most gymnasia in the City of Athens are thought to have been put to additional uses including: being used as philosophy schools, as ephebic education centers, as venues for public feasts, venues for grand… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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