The Art of Building in the Classical World: Vision, Craftsmanship, and Linear Perspective in Greek and Roman Architecture
John R. Senseney
This book examines the application of drawing in the design process of classical architecture, exploring how the tools and techniques of drawing developed for architecture subsequently shaped theories of vision and representations of the universe in science and philosophy. Building on recent scholarship that examines and reconstructs the design process of classical architecture, John R. Senseney focuses on technical drawing in the building trade as a model for the expression of visual order, showing that the techniques of ancient Greek drawing actively determined concepts about the world. He argues that the uniquely Greek innovations of graphic construction determined principles that shaped the massing, special qualities, and refinements of buildings and the manner in which order itself was envisioned.
As Vitruvius explains it: …astronomers and musicians discuss certain things in common: the harmony of the stars, the intervals of squares and triangles, that is, the [musical] intervals of fourths and fifths, and with geometers they speak about vision, which in Greek is called logos optikos, the science of optics, and in the other disciplines many – or all – things are common property, so far as discussion is concerned. But as for embarking on the creation of works that are brought to elegant
75. Hypothetical methods of producing twenty equal divisions of circumference for Doric fluting 76. Hypothetical methods of fluting columns using a protractor 77. The zodiac as a circular construction with twelve equal sectors for the signs; the Greek theater according to Vitruvius 78. Artemision and agora, Magnesia-on-the-Maeander 79. Human form defined by sample modules, proportions, and geometry, as described by Vitruvius 80. Temple of Athena Polias, Priene. Restored drawing of a cornice
in its ichnographic idea, for Vitruvius it becomes a model for envisioning the revolutions of the planets along the circuits of a circular stairway passing through the signs of the zodiac, itself constructed graphically by the same means as the theater. For Plato (Republic 529c-e), we are to treat the mechanisms of the revolving cosmos as paradeigmata or models of intelligible reality rather than eternal truth itself, just as we would the beautiful geometric diagrams of Daidalos or another
lines running down the columns at Sardis mentioned earlier, if combined with a protractor, the plumb line could even provide an additional control for the extension of flutes running all the way down the shafts. The plumb bob would interfere with the line's adherence to the shaft's surface, but this problem would be solved without difficulty by applying manual pressure to the line in a way that would not affect the line's true verticality. In most cases, however, the use of a curved ruler, plumb
Daidalos contain commensurations like equals and doubles. From an engineering rather than philosophical point of view, such proportions in the diagrams for vehicles would serve a practical purpose as the basis for accuracy in the built mechanism, which in turn ensures the intended functionality of the device. In Vitruvius’ account, a properly designed machine was not just one that revolved, but more specifically one that revolved in a way that covered distances within a limited time. He tells of