Substantive Education

February 10, 2009

Greek Architecture Part 1

More info. for my Art Classes. This will probably take several posts to get through the Architecture…greece-5

Early Greek temples were made of mud and bricks with wood roofs. They had a simple rectangular structure with a sheltered porch area. We have had to piece together their structure and look by ruins, descriptions, and small ceramic models. This model of a temple was found in the Sanctuary of Hera. Notice the geometric design on the steeply pitched roof. The main room was called a cella or naos. There would have been a statue of the god or goddess in this area that the temple was dedicated to. There was a small reception area that preceded the main hall that functioned as the temples vestibule.

Greek temples grew in both size and complexity. Stone and marble began to replace the mud, bricks, and wood. Of course using stone and marble created problems with weight and the designs of temples had to be worked out carefully so that the columns and walls could support the roof and the decorative architectural elements that began to be added on. greek-8

A number of standardized plans began to develop. Builders experimented with the elevations of temples..or the proportions and appearance of columns and entablatures. During the archaic period two distinct designs developed, the Ionic Order and the Doric Order. The Corinthian Order would come later and, at first, be used largely in interior areas.

The Temple of Hera (The wife of Zeus) is one of the earliest standing temples. It was built in about 550 BC. (Actually there are two Temples of Hera, built right next to one another about 100 years apart…they are generally referred to as Hera I and Hera II.)

Hera I is a large, rectangular temple with a post-and-lintel structure. There is a stepped foundation that supports a peristyle. A peristyle is a row of columns that surround the cella (main area) on all four sides. The single peristyle plan is also called a peripteral temple. See figures E through G. Both Hera I and the Parthenon are examples of a peripteral temple.

Hera is also a Doric Temple, meaning it used the Doric Order, or set of proportions in it’s construction. Working with stone and marble presents several difficulties because of the weight of the stones. The Greeks found that columns of a certain diameter and height could support the rest of the structure. In general, the Doric order has shorter, fatter columns than the other orders and is the oldest of the Orders. The columns sat directly on the floor of the temple and had a very plain capital. Each successive order would elaborate on these basics, adding more decoration, more heights, and thinning the columns.

Let’s take a look at each of the parts of the temple so that we can compare the orders and look at some examples.

The columns is generally what we think of as being distinctive of each Order. The columns are an upright support hat extends from a base at the bottom to a capital at the top — much like the feet, body, and head of the human figure. The central part is known as the shaft. The shaft is not one huge solid piece, but several drum shaped pieces that are stacked onto a metal pole. This provides flexible support, allowing these works of art to survive time and earthquakes. The capital was often a stylized representation of natural forms, such as animal horns or plant leaves.

You can see the basic parts of a column below. A Doric Column did not have a pedestal, but sat directly on the floor of the temple, or the stylobate. Greek temples generally had stepped foundation and the top level, which was also the floor of the temple was the stylobate. The entire stepped foundation was called the stereobate.

The columns support a horizontal element…hence the post-and-lintel construction. This element is called the entablature and is divided up into three different parts: the architrave, the frieze, and the cornice.
At each end there was a triangular gable called the pediment.
greece-8In Hera I you can see the classic components of a Doric Temple. The fluted shafts of the columns that rest without any bases on the stylobate and the very plain capitals made up of necking transition to a cushionlike echinus and then a square abacus on the top.
There is a three part entablature that has a plain flat band that is the architrave, it is topped by a decorative band called a frieze. In the Doric order the frieze has flat areas called metopes that alternate with projecting blocks that have three vertical lines on them called triglyphs. This part of the entablature were usually painted, or carved and then painted in bright colors.
The Doric column is only about four times as high as the diameter of the column. This design creates a feeling of stability and permanence. The columns are wider the middle than at the tops or bottoms. Hera I has an uneven number of columns and there is a central row of columns that supported the roof, and divided the main cella in two. This suggests that there were two deities worshiped here, possible Hera and her mate Zeus…or Hera and Poseidon, patron god of the city.
Here is some additional info and a summary from Greek Architecture for Dummies.

Doric: Heavy simplicity

The oldest, simplest, and most massive of the three Greek orders is the Doric, which was applied to temples beginning in the 7th century B.C. As shown in Figure 2, columns are placed close together and are often without bases. Their shafts are sculpted with concave curves called flutes. The capitals are plain with a rounded section at the bottom, known as the echinus, and a square at the top, called the abacus. The entablature has a distinctive frieze decorated with vertical channels, or triglyphs. In between the triglyphs are spaces, called metopes, which were commonly sculpted with figures and ornamentation. The frieze is separated from the architrave by a narrow band called the regula. Together, these elements formed a rectangular structure surrounded by a double row of columns that conveyed a bold unity. The Doric order reached its pinnacle of perfection in the Parthenon.


February 8, 2009

Kids create their own city-states.

In my Ancient History class we did a little experiment last week. We have been studying the Ancient Greeks and

Great overview

Great overview

comparing some of the city-states. We watched a PBS movie, The Greeks; Crucible of Civilization, that chronicled the development of Athens and Sparta through various monarchies, dictators, oligarchies, and eventually democracies. Each development filled a need and created others. Outside pressures, primarily from the Persians, pushed city-states that were often at war with each other, to unite against a common enemy. As tyrants rose and fell, land became a point of contention, and slave populations grew. We saw that laws were needed that were fair and that the people would abide by.

For our experiment I divided the kids up into 3 groups. It’s important that each group have some boys and some girls. I figured that since no one can chose where they are born I wouldn’t give the kids a choice about the groups they were in. I counted off the boys and the girls by threes, sending the twos to one area of the room etc. Once they were all in their groups I explained the rules of the game. Basically, for the next 2 1/2 hours the kids would be living as ancient Greeks in their city-states. Each group had their table and an area around the table to claim as their ‘land’. They were to live by basic laws honored in most Greek City-Sates.

Mandatory Rules

1. Boys must do all the work and make all of the decisions.

2. Girls must keep their homes and land clean and organized.

3. Girls may not travel unaccompanied by a male outside of their city-state. (This law in particular drew groans. The experiment included the next class period and our lunch break and the girls needed an escort to go to the store, the bathrooms, the kitchen, etc.)

At the end of the time period I had two judges come in. One to judge the boys ‘work’, and one to judge how well the girls did. The boys were assigned the following ‘work’. They had to name their city-state, make up ten laws, and draw a poster of the laws, name, flag etc. The girls were not allowed to help, they could humbly offer an opinion but all decisions had to be made by the boys.

Breaking any of the rules resulted in points being deducted. We had girls lose points for coloring on their posters and wandering off without an escort. If they completed their work in an exemplary fashion the boys could earn up to 10 points and the girls up to 5. Sorry girls, uneven pay scale back then.

The Results

I was happy to hear one 9th grade girl grumbling about 20 minutes into the exercise.   “I thought this was going to be so great, sit back and relax for a whole class and watch the boys do all the work…but it’s horrible. It’s boring. I have ideas too…” All the girls basically felt the same way and were very happy when they no longer needed escorts to walk about the building.

Here are some of the laws the kids came up with.

The first city-state was Atlantis and their flag consisted of a trident in waves. Some of their laws were:

1. Everyone must worship Poseidon.

2. Murder of a citizen is death by crucifixion.

3. Killing of cattle, or other animals, results in you having to repay double.

4. All citizens, slaves, and hetics are required to participate in any wars. (Hetics were people who moved into your city-state from another city-state, generally tradesmen.)

Our next city-state was Siligia. Some of their laws were:

1. Our official goddess is Athena and you must make an offering to her once a week.

2. Male citizens must serve 5 years in the military.

3. You must contribute 10% of your wealth to your city.

4. No public nudity, you must dress appropriately.

5. Children must be educated until the age of 18.

(The rest of theirs  were similar to the 10 Commandments.)

Our last city-state was Equus Fuga which means Flying Horse in Latin. Some of their laws were:

1. Women must have their arms completely covered when in the polis.

2. All visitors will be cared for and receive hospitality. (They had a limit on how long families had to put up visitors and then someone else had to take them in.)

3. This city-state was concerned about noise pollution and had a law that you could not talk to someone who was more than 5 feet away, thus reducing shouting.

4. Concern over the spread of the plague brought about this next law…every person must boil water before it can be consumed.

5. The goddess Aphrodite is this city-states patron goddess and must be worshiped fervently for one hour.

This would be a fun exercise to continue if you have a small group of children and siblings.  You could continue to develop your city-state as you learned more about the different political systems, military experience, and family life in Greece.

February 6, 2009

What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognize the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and skin more beautiful than the garment with which it is clothed? Michaelangelo

Filed under: Ancient Greece,Art,Fine Art — kbagdanov @ 5:33 am
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Just a heads up, I’ll be posting many nude male sculptures over the next week for my Art class. If you’d rather skip that then please come back in a week or two. We are studying Ancient Greek art and are moving into sculpture. No way around it, the ancient Greeks were enthralled with the beauty of the male body.

Having said that, I thought I would share some more quotes from Michaelangelo. He was a flawed, complex, gifted, man who has left us a legacy of faith and beauty. Having seen some of his works in person I am awe. These quotes give me much to contemplate.

Carving is easy, you just go down to the skin and stop.michelangelo-creation

Every beauty which is seen here by persons of perception resembles more than anything else that celestial source from which we all are come.

I am still learning.

I live and love in God’s peculiar light.

I live in sin, to kill myself I live; no longer my life my own, but sin’s; my good is given to me by heaven, my evil by myself, by my free will, of which I am deprived.

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.

If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.

If we have been pleased with life, we should not be displeased with death, since it comes from the hand of the same master.



Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I can accomplish.

Many believe – and I believe – that I have been designated for this work by God. In spite of my old age, I do not want to give it up; I work out of love for God and I put all my hope in Him.

My soul can find no staircase to Heaven unless it be through Earth’s loveliness.

The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.

What do you despise? By this you are truly known.

February 1, 2009

SHAKESPEARE FUN – Writing Exercise

Yesterday my Shakespeare class had some fun with Shakespearean insults. While none of our children would ever think…of course they wouldn’t…. of being insulting, this exercise provides an excuse to be silly and insulting. (Our rule at our house is that for a comment to be funny it must be funny to EVERYONE. This exercise produced a lot of giggles, as it should. Only you know your kids, or the group you will be working with, so provide some guidelines if you feel there is a chance the exercise could become mean-spirited. That is certainly not the intent and should not be allowed.)shakespeare-class1

First, I had two of our more dramatic students take some index cards with insults from the play we are currently working on, A Midsummer’s Nights Dream, and hurl them at each other. This had everyone laughing. Then I gave everyone an index card with various insults from lots of plays and we tossed around a haki sack (Thanks Stevie) When a student caught the haki sack they needed to insult the person, using the provided insults, that tossed the ball to them. They got into the exercise and were quite insulting. We had a few moments of concern because one of the insults included the word ‘whoreson’ (which you could obviously skip) and the student who got this one said he wasn’t comfortable insulting anyones mother. 🙂

After playing with Shakespeare’s insults for a bit the kids sat down to write some of their own…sounding Shakespearean of course. Now we have students from about 9 years old through High School so there was a wide variety of results. Below I’ve given you some Shakespearean insults and some my students made up. If you decide to try this exercise with younger kids pick some of the more obvious insults as some of Shakespeare’s language can be confusing…or google the words that baffle you. There are many great Shakespeare sites on the net that can offer explanations.

shakespeare-class-2Before having students write their own insults explain that Shakespeare was known for making up words when he didn’t have one that worked for him. (Knotgrass for instance, although I found this one in the dictionary I didn’t need to know what it was to know I didn’t want someone to call me that.) Generally, the context and sound of the word makes clear it’s intended meaning. Allow (or encourage) students to do the same.

Shakespearean Insults

Go thou and fill another room in hell. King Richard

Let vultures gripe thy guts! Merry Wives of Windsor

Vile worm, Thou was o’erlooked even in thy birth. Merry Wives of Windsor

You, minion, are too saucy. Two Gentlemen of Verona

You juggler, you cankerblossom, you thief of love! A MIdsummer Nights dream

A pox o’ your throat, you bawling, blasphemous, incharitable dog! The Tempest

Come: you are a tedious fool. Measure for Measure

What, you egg! Young fry of treachery! Macbeth

Why you bald-pated, lying rascal. Measure for Measure

Out of my door, you witch, you rag, you baggage, you runnion. A Midsummer Nights Dream

Get you gone, you dwarf: You minimus of hindering knotgrass. A MIdsummer Nights Dream


Students Insults

Die, you hideous baboon! You lowly parisite!

You hast earned a royal room in hell, and shall tend to the royal king.

Thoust are nothing, a slave, in comparison to me.

You blueberry stock stealer!

Thou dirty pig-wench. The hogs wouldst welcome thee with they slanderous, sneaky, conniving ways into their muck pen.

Thou breath smells of heated dung.

You blasphemer of all decent things. You sniverous serpent. I entreat thee to swallow thine own forked tongue and rid thyself of our kind world.

Thou hast the brain of a city rat, and thoust also hast the courage of a chicken and thoust smells like it too. (this one is by a 9 year old)

This one requires the knowledge that one of our local high schools is Paloma and the student who wrote this father helps coach basketball at the rival high school…Perris.

Thine empty existence, be more lacking in purpose than a talent scout at Paloma.

I have many more, but you get the idea. So have fun insulting everyone.

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