chapter  1
32 Pages

Ancient Greece for Modern Greece and the Western World

Architectural remains are important for various reasons. Architecture is the oldest of arts, and the closest to the human body, imagination and condition. Anthropomorphic parables in architecture have been, since very ancient times, a common means to express abstract thoughts and feelings, and to compare the character of humans to that of buildings. The Roman architect Vitruvius, in ‘The Ten Books of Architecture’, explicitly refers to the conscious analogy between Greek architecture and the body, although this analogy, product of a multitude of social and environmental parameters, seems to arise much earlier, dating back perhaps to the sixth century BC. As the eighteenth-century Italian philosopher Vico noted, inanimate things become easier to understand by metaphors drawn from the body, senses and passions. Another usual combination involving architecture was, as witnessed by the Renaissance architect Alberti (in Book VI), that of architectural with natural monuments: ‘...Columns, Obelisks and Trees left by great Men in order to strike Posterity with Veneration; as for instance the Olive-tree planted by Neptune and Minerva, which flourished for many ages in the citadel of Athens.’1