« ElőzőTovább »
THE Grecks were not the inventors of architecture,
if, by that word,' we understand simply the art of joining together materials, and composing of them edifices for the convenience and different uses of life. All policed peo. ple have had in this part of the arts, lights pretty near equal. Necessity suggested to them the same ideas and almost the same practices, although relative to the temperature of the seasons and the influence of the air proper to each climate.'
But architecture does not consist solely in the work of the hands, and in a simple mechanic labour. It ought on many occasions to endeavour to produce the greatest effects, to join elegancy with majesty, and delicacy with solidity. It is taste and intelligence which ought then to direct the operations.
Neither Asia nor Egypt can pretend to the glory of having invented, or even of having known the true beauties of architecture. The genius of these nations turned towards the gigantic and the marvellous, was more taken with the enormous size and prodigiousness of a building, than with the graces and nobleness of its proportions. It is easy to judge of this by what now remains to us of the monuments raised in the east, and by the description the ancients have given us of those which exist no more
It was from the Greeks that architecture has received that regularity, that order, that entireness which are able,to charm our eyes. It was their genius which brought forth those magnificent and sublime compositions which we are never weary of admiring. We owe to them, in a word, all the beauties of which the art of building is capable. In this sense, we may say the Greeks have invented architecture. They have borrowed nothing with regard to it from other nations. It is an art which they have entirely created. Greece has furnished the models and prescribed the rules which they afterwards followed when they would execute monuments worthy to descend to posterity. We find, in the three orders of Grecian architecture, all that art can produce either for majesty, elegance, beauty, delicacy, or folidity *.
I shall insist more particularly on thé taste of the eastern people in archi. tecture, in the article of arts in the third part of this work. VOL, II.
Architecture, the same as the other arts, had but a very poor beginning among the Greeks. Their houses in early times were only fimple cabins, constructed in a rude and gross manner built of earth and clay 4. They very much resembled the dens and caverns which these people so long had dwelt in'. They found afterwards the art of making and burning bricks, and with them to build houses. The Greeks give the honour of that invention to two inhabitants of Attici named Eurialus and Hyperbius s. They were brothers: this is all we know of their history. We are ignorant in what time they lived.
The different colonies which came from Asia and Egypt successively to fettle in Greece, contributed to the progress of architecture. The chiefs of these new colonies gathered the people of many districts to build cities. and towns, and accustomed their new subjects to lead a sedentary life. The origin of these establishments ascends to very early times. We have seen in the first part of this work, that the cities of Argos and Eleusis owed their foundations to the first sovereigns of Greece. They had even, as I have already said, begun to build temples a.
The first monuments which the Greeks raised, shew us the grosiness and the little knowledge they had in the art of Building anciently. The temple of Delphos, fo renowned fince for its magnificence, and which, even in the times
* See a parallel of the ancient architecture with the modern; by M. de Chambray, p. 2. 9 Plin. 1. 7. fect. 57. p.413. 1
Id. ibid. ; A schyl, in Prometh, vineto, V. 449. 60. í Plin. l. 7. sect. 57. p. 413.
+ Book 1. chap. 1. art. 5. 3 Ibid, book 2. chap. 3.
we now speak of, was famous for the riches it contained ~, the temple of Delphos was originally only a simple thatched building covered with branches of laurel y,
In the time of Vitruvius they saw still at Athens, the remains of a building in which the Areopagi assembled in the beginning of their institution. This edifice equally grofs and unformed, consisted of a sort of cabin covered with fods 2. Such was anciently the manner in which the Greeks built.
Architecure could scarce have made any progress among chose people before the arrival of Cadmus. The Greeks had forgot the art of working of metals, of which the Titan princes had then them the first elements. It was Cadmus, who, at the head of his colony, brought back into Greece fo neceffary a knowledge. He did more: he taught these people the art of procuring stones from the bofom of the earth, the manner of cutting them b, and using them for the construction of buildings.
We meet with almost unsurmountable contradictions when we will critically inquire into and discuss the knowledge which the Greeks had of architecture in the ages which we are going over at present. We may judge of this by the exposure of the facts which the writers of antiquily have transmitted to us on this fubject,
If we refer to the testimony and the taste of Pausanias, we must be obliged to place in the infancy of the arts a. mong the Greeks, the most wonderful monuments which these people had raised. That author speaks of an cdifice that Mynias King of Orchomena built to shut up his treasures,
* Jliad 1. 9. V. 404. & 405.; Plin.l. 3: fect. 20. p. 173. y. Paus, 1. 10. C. 5.
ż Vitruv. l. 2. c. 1. a See infra, chap. 4; 5 Plin. l. 7. sect. 57. p. 413.; Clem. Alex. It rom. 1, 1.1: 363. CL.9. c. 36. Mynias might reign about 1377 years before Christ. Pausanias, in effect, places the reign of this prince four generations before Hercules, 1.9. c. 36. & 37. As this historian reckons twenty-five years for a generation, Mynias hould have preceded the birth of Hercules about 100 years, which we may fix about seyenty years before the taking of Troy.
and of the walls of Tyrinthus built by Prætus a, as works worthy the admiration of all ages. He does not fear to put them in competition with the pyramids of Egypt; but I think this sentiment appears to me to labour under many difficulties.
The edifice constructed by Mynias was a sort of rotunda, a little Hatted. All the building rested on a stone which was the centre of the arch. It served for a key to the whole work, on which rested all the parts. The whole monument was built of marble. The walls of Tyrinthus were built of rough stones, but so large, that, according to Pausanias, two mules could with difficulty draw the least of them. Little stones put in between these great ones, filled up the intervalsf. See what were the monuments which this au, thor, as I have already said, compares to the pyramids of Egypt.
To judge of these works, even from the description of Pausanias, we see nothing in them to be so much cried up. Besides, he is the only one who has mentioned them. Homer, Herodotus, Apollodorus, Diodorus, and Strabo, who had had so many occasions to speak of the monuments of Greece, say nothing of the building of Mynias. With refpect to the walls of Tyrinthus, they tell us, that they had heen built by the workmen that Prætus braught from Lycia 3. Further, they only represent that place as a small citadel raised by Prætus in an advantageous post to serve him for a retreat h. Yet we shall not suspect, that these authors have despised the monuments of Greece, and still less that they have neglected to speak of them. Lastly, let us obferve, that, according to Pausanias, the edifice raised by Mynias was arched, a fac no way credible, especially as it was constructed of marble : yet there is great appearance, that, even at the time of Homer, the Greeks did not know to work marble. We do not find in his poems any word to characterise and distinguish it from other stones. If marble had been then known, could Homer have forgot it in the description of the palace of Alcinous, and above all, in the palace of Menelaus, where he says there thone gold, silver, tin, ivory, and the most rare productions i.
a Pauf. 1. 9. c. 36.
Praetus was brother of Acrisius, whose reign falls in the year 1379 before Christ. c Paus. 1. 9. c. 38.
f. Id. 1.2. c. 25. 6 Apollodor. I. 2. p. 68.; Strabo, 1. 8. p. 572. À lliąd. 1. 2. V: 559.; Apollod. 1. 2. p. 68.; Strabo, 1, 8. p. 572,
Lastly, it is very difficult to reconcile the date of these monuments with the epoch which the Greeks assign for the invention of almost all the instruments necessary for the construction of edifices. If we believe the greatest part of the authors of antiquity, they owe to Dædalus the plane, the saw, the wimble, the square, and the manner of taking and finding of levels by means of a plummet. It is true, that Dædalus divided with his nephew Talus, Calus, Attalus, or Perdix, (for authors differ about his name), one part of the glory of these inventions. The mother of this young man had intrusted Dædalus to instruct him in the secrets of bis art. He had moreover more genius and industry than his master. At the age of twelve years, having met with the jaw of a serpent, and having used it with success to cut a little piece of wood, that adventure gave him the idea of making an instrument which imitated the Tharpness of the teeth of that animal. He took for this business a sheet of iron, and cut it after the model of these little teeth, short and thick set, which he had remarked in the serpent. It was thus that he found the faw 1. They also attribute to him the invention of the compass, of the throw, and, the potter's wheel m. History adds, that Dædalus was not exempt from the low jealousy which has at all times been the vice of artists, even of those who professed the most noble and most elevated arts. Apprehending that he should be outdone by his disciple, he destroyed him.
i Odyff. 1. 4. v. 72. &C. As the interpretation of the word Śnext pov used in this description is liable to be disputed, I have not thought proper to give it a determinate signification. * Diod. 1. 4. p. 319. & 320.; Hygin. fab. 274.; Ovid. metam. 1. 8. v. 241.6c. Plin. I. 7. seet. 57. P. 414.
Diod. 1.4. p. 319. & 320.; Hygin. fab. 271.; Ovid. metam. I. 8. v. 241. & feq.
m Id. ibid,