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Q: What is the different between the Roman and Greek's architectural? ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: What is the different between the Roman and Greek's architectural?
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Visual Arts
Asked by: tracy_0224-ga
List Price: $40.00
Posted: 07 Nov 2002 01:24 PST
Expires: 07 Dec 2002 01:24 PST
Question ID: 101006
what is the different between the Roman and Greek 's architectural?
and what is the special about the Roman wall painting.
these two question are the question of "ART HISTORY"
Subject: Re: What is the different between the Roman and Greek's architectural?
Answered By: willie-ga on 07 Nov 2002 03:01 PST
Hello, and thabnks for your question. I've summarised the main points,
and given you links for further study.

What is the difference between Roman and Greek Architecture?

Roman architecture developed from an understanding of the Hellenistic
architecture of Greece.

However, Roman architecture shows the influence of the development of
new engineering skills and secular monuments, whereas Greek
architecture showed more the influence of gods and ideas of physical
perfection in the development of their architecture.

The Romans developed not only new ways to build more efficient
buildings but also a entirely different purpose for the building to be
built. While still showing the beauty that was skillfully achieved by
the Greeks and adding their own practically and ingenuity, the Romans
developed an architectural style that remains to this day. (e.g. in
Bath, England, you can see the original Roman warm spring baths,
around which the upper crust English built impressive, Roman-style
architecture during their own Palladian era.)

The Greeks people built beautiful architecture for the worship of
their gods, and  a large percentage of the ancient Greek architecture
that we still know of today were temples. The gods were the driving
force behind any major architecture of the Hellenistic period.

Though the Romans built temples to their gods, the Roman style was
more predominantly seen in public dwellings and social gathering
areas, such as basilicas and forums, than in their temples. In fact, a
majority of the temples that the Romans built were nothing more than
copies of Greek temples, with the exception of the domed Pantheon.


Another major difference between Greek and Roman architecture was the
purpose behind the design. Greek architecture was meant to be viewed
as a piece of art that would give pleasure to the gods. This was
obvious in  the ornate exteriors of the buildings; in the pediments
and metopes and the relative drabness of the interiors. The Greek
designed buildings as a sculpture in a sense, with all of the beauty
to be viewed from the outside.

Roman architectural style turns this around. Although their buildings
are beautiful on the outside, the inside is equally beautiful, with
the many-colored walls and paintings , and a use of space concerned
with the lighting of the room so that the interior decorations could
be seen clearly.  Roman buildings were meant to be gathering places
for the public e.g the basilica was was built to be a gathering place
for Romans citizens to hold meetings, an people also met in large
civic buildings such as bathhouses and market places know as forums
that were as aesthetically pleasing inside as out

This site was created by the University of Colorado at Colorado
Springs. It contains many high quality pictures of Roman Architecture
Roman Architecture in the City of Rome


Not only did the Romans differ on why to build a building but they
also made drastic differences on how to build it.

Here’s a longer quote from an online essay  on the subject that sums
it up nicely at "Roman Architecture"
( )

"The Greeks used what is know as a "post and lintel" system of
designing a building. This is basically the idea of standing to
columns up and placing a beam across them. A very simple and easy
construction but on the other hand not a very strong one. "

"As the Roman civilization grew larger and larger the buildings they
used for meetings and markets of course had to grow too. This
presented a problem with the use of columns, because the big the
building, the more columns needed to hold it up. Thus the Romans
turned to engineering for the solution and the arch was born. By using
arches instead of columns and beams, the weight of the structure was
spread evenly out and toward the ground rather than directly down on
the beam. This increased the amount of weight that could be supported
in a single area and thus giving more room on the inside by taking
away previously necessary columns, though they did keep some around
for decoration. "

This invention of course changed the mindset on the construction of
regular buildings that would have relied of columns, but it also was a
stepping stone to another invention. The dome is nothing more than a
network of arches that form an enclosed building. This is the theory
that created the Pantheon, a circular dome that was the temple to the
gods. It is one of the first of its kind and has stood for thousands
of years while other building designed strictly with columns have turn
into nothing more than ruins."

Also, the Greeks relied heavily on the "Doric" column, and the Romans
adapted this to their own ends
Here is a quote from "A Greek Architecture primer" at :

"The Doric order continued in use in Hellenistic (350 BC--215 BC) and
Roman times, but it is easy to distinguish Greek from Roman Dorica.
The later architects dared a wider space, enough for three triglyphs,
between columns; they used a base for their columns, whereas a Greek
Doric column rests directly on the stylobate; they economized often by
omitting the fluting in the lower part of a column (where damage most
often occurred); and they reduced the size of the capital most meanly.
All these Hellenistic and Roman "improvements" are seen in Delos. "


The materials the two cultures used also had a difference on their

Here is a quote from a summary of Art history on the importance of the
development of concrete at:
Etruscan & Roman Art 

"Roman architects relied heavily on the round arch and barrel
vaulting. They also relied increasingly on a new building material,
cast concrete. Thus an essential difference between Greek and Roman
architecture is that Greek buildings reveal the building material
itself, whereas Roman buildings show only the applied surface.

"The components of concrete were cheap, light, and easily transported.
Stone structures required skilled workers, whereas concrete structures
could be built by a large, semiskilled work force directed by one or
two trained and experienced supervisors."

In summary, the superior engineering skills of the Romans played a big
part in their architecture and set it apart from their Greek
counterparts. Though the origin of their ideas came from Greek
architecture, the Romans improved greatly in the way in which they
organized and improved those ideas.

They made many new innovations in architecture, produced
ground-breaking designs and building materials leaving behind an
impact on architecture that can still be seen today.


On to your second point

What is Special about The Roman Wall Painting

While there is evidence that the Romans also painted on portable
panels, the surviving paintings that we can see today were painted
directly on the walls of their rooms and provide a historical record
of the Roman way of life.

Here’s a quote from a very informative site at "Roman Painting" at:
( )

"Domestic interiors were claustrophobic - windowless and dark - so the
Romans used painted decoration to visually open up and lighten their
living spaces. Technical elements of Roman painting include the fresco
technique; brightly colored backgrounds; division of the wall into
multiple rectangular areas ("tic-tac-toe" design); multi-point
perspective; and trompe-l'oeil effects.

"The art of fresco as practiced in Classical times was described by
Vitruvius (De Architectura) and Pliny The Elder (Naturalis Historia.)
A wall was prepared by the application of 1-3 coats of mortar (lime
and sand) followed by 1-3 coats of lime mixed with finely powdered
marble; colored pigments were applied while the wall was still damp.
Sometimes tempura and liquid wax were added after the wall had dried.


There are different styles of wall painting that have been identified.
Middle to upper class Roman homes provided large areas of wall for
painting, which had a distinct style, identified from the wall
paintings found at Pompeii, Herculaneum, Boscoreal and other cities
buried under the volcanic ash of Mt. Vesuvius.  Roman mosaics either
imitated the painting styles or became very abstract.

The current system of classifying Roman wall painting was devised by
the German art historian, August Mau at the end of the nineteenth
century. Mau described four styles that are discussed below

The following is abstracted from a site with nice example pictures 
"Roman Wall Painting" at:
( )

The First Style Roman wall painting, called "Incrustation style"  is
thought to imitate Greek painting that created flat areas of color and
"faux" finishes (like a fake marble or oak finish).

In the second style Roman wall painting, called the "architectural
style," space extends beyond the room with various perspective
("illusion of three-dimensional space on a flat two-dimensional
surface)  devices.  Roman artists came close to developing a true
linear perspective.

In the Third Style Roman Wall Painting, called the "Ornate Style,"
pictorial illusion is confined to "framed" images, where even the
"framing" is painted on.  The overall appearance is flat rather than a
3-d illusion of space.

The Fourth Style Roman Wall Painting, called the "Intricate Style,"
confines full three-dimensional illusion to the "framed images," which
are placed like pictures in an exhibition.  The images themselves do
not relate to one another nor do they present a narrative, as in the
Second Style. The Fourth Style is also characterized by the open
vistas and the use of aerial perspective, as well as the elaborate
architectural framing. "

"Figurative subjects in Roman art - other than portraiture - typically
refer to myth, legend, and religious ritual. As with their statues,
the Romans copied or imitated many of their paintings from Hellenistic
Greek originals. Therefore, when looking at Roman paintings, it is
important to understand the mythological and religious background of
classical Greek and Roman culture. The Romans were literal-minded
people, and we should know their stories in order to "read" their art
as the Romans did. It will be beneficial to consult a good
mythological dictionary, such as Great Figures Of Mythology, by Peter
Clayton (Crescent Books, 1990.) "


So wall painting is special in several ways

- in its development of art as a form of interior decoration in
- in the development of new technical elements including the fresco
technique; brightly colored backgrounds; division of the wall into
multiple rectangular areas ("tic-tac-toe" design); multi-point
perspective; and trompe-l'oeil effects.
- in its development in painting materials 

Hope that answers your question, but if you need any clarification,
just ask.


google searches used
Roman Greek architecture development 
Roman Greek architecture differences
Roman Greek architecture materials
"Roman Wall Painting" history 
"Roman Wall Painting" special
Subject: Re: What is the different between the Roman and Greek's architectural?
From: haluk-ga on 09 Nov 2002 06:54 PST
Althought the Greeks knew the vault and dome, they did not use them.

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