What Were Columns Called in Ancient Greece?

In Ancient Greece, columns played a significant role in the architectural design of buildings. These columns were not simply referred to as “columns,” but had distinct names that reflected their unique characteristics and styles.

Doric Columns

The Doric column was the most ancient and simplistic style of column used in Ancient Greece. It was known for its sturdy and robust design.

The shaft of a Doric column was plain and had no base, while the capital featured a simple square abacus with rounded corners. The entablature above the column consisted of an architrave, frieze, and cornice.

Ionic Columns

The Ionic column came after the Doric style and was more decorative in nature. It featured a slender shaft with fluting, which added elegance to its appearance.

The capital of an Ionic column was characterized by its scroll-like design called volutes. Unlike Doric columns, Ionic columns had a base that provided additional support.

Corinthian Columns

The Corinthian column was the most ornate and elaborate style among all the ancient Greek columns. It was developed later than the Doric and Ionic styles during the Hellenistic period.

The Corinthian column had an intricately designed capital adorned with acanthus leaves, scrolls, and sometimes even flowers or figurines. This style of column is often associated with grandeur and opulence.

Other Types of Columns

Besides these three main styles, there were also other variations of columns used in Ancient Greece:

  • Tuscan Column: This style was similar to the Doric column but featured a base.
  • Composite Column: This style combined elements from both Ionic and Corinthian columns, featuring volutes similar to the Ionic style and acanthus leaves like the Corinthian style.
  • Atlantean Column: This unique style of column featured a human figure, usually a male, supporting the entablature instead of a plain shaft.

These various styles of columns were not only important structurally but also held symbolic significance in Ancient Greek architecture. They were used to create visually stunning buildings that embodied the artistic and cultural values of the time.

To this day, these ancient Greek column styles continue to inspire and influence architectural designs around the world. The timeless elegance and beauty of these columns serve as a testament to the lasting impact of Ancient Greek civilization on art and architecture.