The Corinthian Order – a potted history

“A free-born maiden of Corinth, just of marriageable age, was attacked by an illness and passed away. After her burial, her nurse, collecting a few little things which used to give the girl pleasure while she was alive, put them in a basket, carried it to the tomb, and laid it on top thereof, covering it with a roof- tile so that the things might last longer in the open air, this basket happened to be placed just above the root of an acunthus. The acunthus root, pressed down meanwhile though it was by the weight, when springtime came round put forth leaves and stalks in the middle, and the stalks, growing up along the sides of the basket, and pressed out by the corners of the tile through the compulsion of its weight, we’re forced to bend into volutes at the outer edges.

Just then Callimachus…passed by this tomb and observed the basket with the tender young leaves growing round it. Delighted with the novel style and form, he built some columns after that pattern for the Corinthians, determined their symmetrical proportions, and established from that time forth the rules to be followed in finished works of the Corinthian order.”

Ten Books of Architecture – Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (English translation Harvard University Press)


The Pantheon, Rome – taken on current architectural tour

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