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Hellenist Architecture

320px-parthenon-2008_entzerrtHellenist Architecture distinguishes itself from all other forms in history is indicative of Hellenist thought that has survived to modern times.  The uninitiated observer might mistake its formal appearance and ample use of straight lines and square angles for a simple austere design. Like most Hellenist art forms, this is a trick of the eye.  What can be said about the ancient Hellenes was that they believed in the beauty of things in their natural unadulterated forms. Rather than weigh down their buildings and monuments with gargoyles, and superfluous decoration, these Hellenes went to increedible lengths to ensure that their architecture was, above all else, simply beautiful.

If one looks at a Hellenist temple from 2,500 years ago, it clearly appears to be all straight lines and angles. But once the straight lines are exposed to a ruler, it suddenly becomes clear that there aren’t any straight lines.  The reason for this anomoly is that the human eye plays tricks on its owner. Had the Hellenist temples been built with straight lines, they would not have appeared to be straight.  The brain, in its attempt to translate what it sees in perspective, actually distorts the straightness of the lines which results in the slightly distorted appearance.

The early Hellenes believed that their temples theaters and stadia, more than their adherance to the principle of straightness, had to be above all else. . . beautiful in their simplicity.  They altered the design by utilizing all slightly curved lines and surfaces, so that when the structure was completed, the trick of the eye is fooled and thereby made the lines appear straight. This dedication to beauty can be seen in no other civilization then or since.


In spite of the Hellenist obsession with incorporating beauty into their buildings, they did not ignore the technological requirements.  The Hellenes were the originators of Form follows Function. In the case of another important Hellenic structure, the Hellenic Amphitheater, visitors marvel how in an open-air theater, a person sitting on the top row can hear another person on the stage whisper. The acoustics remain unmatched in the modern world.  In spite of their dedication to the beauty of the theater, the purpose of the theater was to allow the audience to hear the actors. Otherwize, why bother to have a theater?

© 2017 The Protognosis Institute