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A History of Art for Beginners and Students

The Temple of Diana at Ephesus



Another feature of Greek architecture is the use of the Caryatid, or a human figure standing upon a base and supporting the capital of a column upon the head, or, to put it more plainly, a human figure serving as the shaft to a column. These figures are usually females, and this picture of one from the Erechtheium at Athens shows how they are placed (Fig. 49). Sometimes the figures of giants, called _Telamones_, were used in the same way.

[Illustration: FIG. 50.--STOOL, OR CHAIR, KHORSABAD.]

In Oriental art such figures are numerous; they are used to support platforms and the thrones of kings; their position is sometimes varied by making the uplifted hands bear the weight instead of the head (Fig. 50). In any case this feature in architecture is tiresome, and its use is certainly questionable as a matter of good taste.

Having given a general outline of the characteristics of Greek architecture, I will speak of some remarkable edifices which are beautiful in themselves and have an interest for us on account of their associations with the history of the world, as well as with that of art.

The Temple of Diana at Ephesus, of which nothing now remains, was the largest and most splendid of all the Greek temples. It was four hundred and twenty-five feet long by two hundred and twenty wide.

style="text-align: justify;">The ancients counted this temple as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and when we know that its pillars were sixty feet high, and that the beams of the architrave which had to be lifted up above the pillars to be put in place were each thirty feet long, we can readily understand that the building of it was a wonderful work. This was not the first temple that had stood on the same spot, for we know that one had been burned on the night in which Alexander the Great was born, 356 B.C. It was set on fire by Herostratus; he was tried for this crime and was put to the torture to make him declare his motive for doing such a dreadful deed; he gave as his only reason his desire to have his name handed down through all ages, and he believed that by burning the temple he should accomplish his object--as, indeed, he did, for every historian repeats the story of his crime, and his name stands as a synonym for wicked ambition.

After this destruction the temple was rebuilt on a most magnificent scale, and was not finished until two hundred and twenty years had passed. Diana was a great and powerful goddess, and all the nations of Asia united in gifts for the adornment of her shrine; the women even gave their personal ornaments to be sold to increase the fund to be spent upon it.

This temple was four times as large as the Parthenon at Athens, and had one hundred and twenty-seven splendid columns, thirty-six of which were finely carved and were the gifts of various sovereigns. The grand staircase was made from the wood of a single Cyprian vine. But great as was the temple itself, its adornments of statues by the sculptor Praxiteles, and the vast treasures of ornaments and rare objects by which it was enriched made it even more famous. The Temple of Diana was robbed by Nero and burned by the Goths, but its final destruction probably occurred after A.D. 381, when the Emperor Theodosius I. issued an edict forbidding all the ceremonies of the pagan worship.

Many beautiful objects were taken away to adorn the mediaeval churches of other religions than that of the Ephesians. Some of its green jasper columns were used to support the dome of St. Sophia at Constantinople, and other parts of it are seen in the cathedrals of Italy.

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