Although Roman architecture style was heavily influenced by the style common in Ancient Greece, it was different from it in terms of technique and philosophy. The main principle of Ancient Greek architecture was to show harmony and proportions. According to Sayre (2013), the core elements of Greek architecture were vertical elements, namely, the entablature, the column, and the platform. The differences in proportions and decoration of these elements accounted for the three different orders, namely, the Doric, the Ionic, and the Corinthian (Hemingway, 2003). The entablature and the swelled columns of the Doric order were massive, and the capitals of the columns were minimalistic. The Ionic order looked more lightweight, and the capitals were decorated with scroll-like volutes (Sayre, 2013). The Corinthian order, also favored by Romans, emerged later, and its long and thin columns were lavishly decorated with leaves, scrolls, and flowers.
Although Roman architecture was derived from the ideas of Greek architects, it was given a different ideological meaning. As Sayre (2013) notes, Romans saw it as a symbol of the empire’s political and military power, and they built vast and excessively decorated buildings that glorified Rome and its rulers, like the Pantheon, amphitheaters, and triumphal arches. The signature stylistic elements of Roman architecture were arches and vaults, and the invention of concrete enabled them to construct huge buildings. For example, the dome of the Pantheon in Rome used to be the largest dome in Europe before the 20th century, and its vast interior referred to the infinity of space (Sayre, 2013). Although the concept of the amphitheater was unique to the Roman culture, such buildings often featured the Doric and the Ionic orders to increase their cultural value (Klar, 2006). During the Augustan rule, brick buildings were covered with thin marble veneers, making the city look even wealthier (Sayre, 2013).
- Cartwright, M. (2018). Pantheon. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/
- Hemingway, C. (2003). Architecture in Ancient Greece. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved from http://www.metmuseum.org
- Klar, L. S. (2006). Theater and amphitheater in the Roman World.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved from http://www.metmuseum.org/t
- Sayre, H. M. (2013). Discovering the humanities (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall