Classical buildings, particularly temples, are classified by a number of criteria. The terminology was recorded by a Roman architect named Vitruvius, who wrote De Architectura during the reign of the Emperor Augustus.

Note - Many of these terms use the suffix "-style". This does not refer to style in the English sense, but comes from the Greek term "stulos", meaning column.

The categories for classification are
  1. what order of column is used
  2. how far around the building the columns go
  3. how many columns there are across the front of the building
  4. how many rows of columns there are in front of the building
  5. how far apart the columns are

What order of column is used?

Frankly, Roadmaker did such a brilliant job on the orders of columns that the best I can do is refer you to this node.


How far around the building do the columns go?
  • peripteral - Columns go all around the building.

    o o o o o o
    o  _____  o
    o |     | o
    o |     | o
    o |     | o
    o |_____| o
    o         o
    o o o o o o
    

  • pseudo-peripteral - Columns look like they go all the way around, but are actually half-columns, or pilasters, at the sides and back.

    o o o o o o
    o_________o
    d         p
    d         p
    d         p
    d         p
    d         p
    o-u-u-u-u-o
    

  • peripteral sine postico - Columns go around three sides of the building, with a solid back wall.

    o o o o o o
    o  _____  o
    o |     | o
    o |     | o
    o |     | o
    o |     | o
    o |     | o
    o |_____| o
    

  • apteral - There are columns on one or both ends of the building, but none on the sides. This is divided into two types:

    prostyle - Columns at the front of the building only.

    o o o o o o
    o_________o
    |         |
    |         |
    |         |
    |         |
    |         |
    |_________|
    

    amphiprostyle - Columns at the front and back of the building only.

    o o o o o o
    o_________o
    |         |
    |         |
    |         |
    |_________|
    o         o
    o o o o o o
    


How many columns are there across the front of the building?
  • tetrastyle - Four columns across the front.
  • hexastyle - Six columns across the front (all of the illustrations above are hexastyle).
  • octostyle - Eight columns across the front.
  • decastyle - Ten columns across the front.

How many rows of columns are there across the front of the building?
  • monopteral - One row of columns. Note that monopteral is also used to refer to a round building surrounded by columns.
                      o o o o o o
      o o o o         o  _____  o
     o  ___  o        o |     | o 
    o  /   \  o       o |     | o
    o  \___/  o       o |     | o
     o       o        o |_____| o
      o o o o         o         o
                      o o o o o o
    
    (Both of these buildings are monopteral)


  • dipteral - Two rows of columns.
    o o o o o o
    o o o o o o
    o |-----| o
    o |     | o
    o |     | o
    o |     | o
    o |_____| o
    o o o o o o
    
  • pseudo-dipteral - Space left for two rows of columns, but only one row actually in place.
    o o o o o o
    o         o
    o |-----| o
    o |     | o
    o |     | o
    o |     | o
    o |_____| o
    o o o o o o
    

How many far apart are the columns?
  • pycnostyle - Columns 1.5 column widths apart.
    This was often used to make a temple seem taller than it was, but made movement into the building feel cramped.
  • systyle - Columns 2 column widths apart.
  • eustyle - Columns 2.25 column widths apart.
    This was felt to be the best intercolumnial distance (its name literally means "good column")
  • diastyle - Columns 3 column widths apart.
  • araeostyle - Columns more than 3 column widths apart.
    This level of intercolumniation required extra support, usually of timber.

So now you too can say things like, "Not bad for a hexastyle peripteral building, but I prefer my Ionic temples to be dipteral if they aren't eustyle."

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