2. Serlio, Architettura (1537-1551), IV

On Doric Order

Chapter VI


Vitruvius proportioned the doric Order in modules, making the thickness of the column two modules and its height with the base and capital xiiii - since the base is one module high, the trunk xii modules and the capital one module, the total will be xiiii. The height of the capital should be divided into three parts: of these, one ought to be for the plinth called abacus - the cymatium is understood to be within this; the next is for the echinus with its annulets; and the third should be given to the hypotrachelium, whose thickness is to be a sixth less than that of the column at the base. The width of the upper portion of the capital on each face should be two modules plus a sixth of a module. This is as far as the text of vitruvius goes. However, I am inclined to believe that the text of vitruvius is corrupt concerning the projection, called sporto, whose effect is very poor compared to the ancient examples which can be seen. Therefore, opposite this capital I shall form an alternative of my own with all its individual measurements minutely described, because Vitruvius does not give measurements for the individual members but passes over them briefly. I maintain, therefore, that with this capital divided into three parts, as stated above, the abacus must be divided into three parts: one should be for the cymatium with its ring - but,with this part made into three, one part should be given to the ring and two to the cymatium. the ecinus should similarly be divided into three, giving one to each annulet. The hypotrachelium should be as stated above. The projection of each member should be equal to its height, because by so doing the thing will be made with a provable theory and will also be pleasing to the eyes of the viewers.

Above the capital is to be placed the epistyle, called architrave. Its height should be one module divided into seven parts, and one is to be for the tenia. The guttae with the regula underneath the tenia should be the sixth part of a module. This is to be divided into four parts, three for the guttae and one for the regula - there should be six guttae hanging under the triglyphs. The height of the triglyphs should be one and a half modules and their width one module. Having divided this up into xii parts, leave one part on each side for the half grooves in the middle. Between one triglyph and the next there is to be a module and a half which will result in the space being a perfect square. These spaces are called metopes by Vitruvius. If, for greater delicacy, ornamentation is required in these spaces, objects like those in the square marked B and also ox heads can be carved, as can be seen illustrated below. These objects are not without significance in that when the ancients sacrificed bulls a plate was used, and it was their custom to set things like this in these places around sacred temples as decoration. Above the triglyphs are to e carved their capitals, whose height should be a sixth of a module. Over these triglyphs, the corona with its two cymas should be placed, one above and one below - having the whole divided into v parts, three are to be for the corona and two for the cymas. The height of the whole should, however, be half a module. Above the corona is to be placed the cymatium, whose height should be half a module with an eighth of that module added for its small band above. The projection of the corona should equal two-thirds of a module, and in its underside the guttae are to be carved in bas-relief above the triglyphs, as shown in the figure which is hanging from the corona. Similarly, the spaces between one triglyph and the next should be either be left smooth or carved in lightning streaks. The projection of the cymatium is to be the same as its height. All the other members except the corona should have the same projection as their height. As far as the coronas are concerned, however, the greater their projection the more they give an impression of grandeur, provided that the stones can support that projection. This can be seen to have been observed by the ancient Romans, as I shall describe in its place with a figure and measurements.

If the column has to be striate, that is, grooved, the striae should be xx in number. they are to be gouged using this method: draw a straight line from one side of the groove of the stria to the other, which is to be one side of a square; having drawn the square, place one point of a pair of compasses on its centre; placing the other point on one end of the line and arcing round to the other will produce the correct grooving, which should be the quarter of a circle. The example of this is shown below, at the foot of the column.


Since the disposition of the triglyphs and metopes is very important and also difficult in this Doric Order, I will make an effort to be as clear as it is possible for me to be about this. I say first of all that even though the text of Vitruvius says that for hexastyle work (that is, with six columns in a portico) the modules in such a disposition should be xxxv, I find, however, that the compartition cannot be like that, because if you want to give four metopes to the space in the middle and three to the other spaces, the said number cannot result. To my mind there should be xlii, as can be seen and calculated in the following figure. Again for tetrastyle work (that is, with four columns) the text the front of the whole work should be divided up into xxiii parts, something which cannot be, if four metopes are to be given to the space in the middle and three each to the two other spaces. In my opinion it should be rather xxvii, as can similarly be seen in the following figure. Therefore if the front of the temple is divided up into xxvii modules, two modules should be for the width of the columns, the central intercolumniation is to be eight modules, and those on either side should be five and a half each. that is how the xxvii modules are to be distributed. Once each column has its triglyph placed above it, and the triglyphs and metopes have been set out in the way shown at the beginning of this Order, the space in the middle will have four metopes and those at the sides three each. For the height of the columns, bases, capitals and other members, the rule given at the beginning is to be observed. However, the height of the pediment should be a ninth part the length of the cymatium which is above the corona; here I mean the one under the corona. The acroteria, called pilastrelli, above the pediment should be half the height of the dado of the pediment and their fronts are to be the same as the top of the columns - the central one should be taller than the others by an eighth. Since this Doric work is very difficult to comprehend, I shall put down in writing and show in a figure as much as I understand. The text of Vitruvius says that from the pavement to the coffers, that is, from the pavement of the portico up to the ceiling under the foot of the letter A, should be divided into three and a half parts, two of these parts are to be for the door space - that, in my opinion, is what the text of Vitruvius says.

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