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The Corner Spaces

In spite of the fact that Balanosí figures are scanty by these amounts, their analysis provides significant information.

A) CORNER SPACES

For the distances between the axes of the corner columns and the edge of the stylobate, Balanos provides the following data:

North

1023________________________________ 1021
1
1
0
0
2
1
0
9

 

1
1
0
0
2
1
0______________________________________ 9
1050
1016

South

According to my reckoning, the distance measured along the curve is 3033/48 feet or 1,023.1 mm.; Penrose reports a distance of 1023.2 mm. The distance measured by Balanos is that projected on straight lines joining the corners of the stylobate. Among his figures there is only one that is strongly discrepant, namely, that relating to the south side of the southwest corner. The architect was concerned with compensating for the optical effect produced by the circumstance that this is the interval seen from the greatest distance and from below, being seen even from the area at the foot of the Acropolis.

It can be concluded that on the fronts the distance was the standard one of 177/48 of foot or 1,023.1 mm., and that Balanos obtained figures of 1,019 and 1,020 mm. because of the method he employed in measuring the blocks. The same can be said about the distances on the northern flank. On the southern flank, instead, the eastern terminal was decreased to 176/48 and the western terminal was increased to 180/48.

According to my reckoning the space for the corner columns was set at 17 feet or 4,716.6 mm. Balanos arrived at the following results:

North

4706________________________________ 4730
4
4
6
7
8
1
8
5

 

4
4
7
6
1
8
6______________________________________ 1
4724
4694

South

When the data are arranged according to their location, they reveal a definite pattern in their apparent irregularity. The intervals are lengthened at the NE and SW corners and they are shortened at the two other corners. There is a clear symmetry among the dimensions at the opposite angles. The dimensions at each angle differ little from each other:

NE corner
15 mm.
SE corner
13 mm.
SW corner
8 mm.
NW corner
18 mm.

But the mean distance at the NE and SW angles is 4,721.25 mm., whereas the mean distance at the two opposite angles is 4,689.75 mm.; the two means differ by 31.50 mm. Therefore it must be concluded that the difference was definitely intentional. The difference is partly explained by my tentative conclusion that the SW and NE angles were acute and the other two were obtuse. In an acute angle the two columns near the vertex are closer to each other than in a right angle, unless they are placed at a greater distance from the vertex; the opposite proves true in an obtuse angle. But the acuteness and obtuseness of the angles is not great enough to explain the discrepancy in the spacing of the corner columns. The main preoccupation of the architect was the fact that the SW corner was to be seen from below and from a great distance. Hence, he placed the columns at a greater interval there and in addition he lengthened the sides that converge there, thereby making the angle an acute one. Then for symmetry the opposite corner was also made an acute angle, although in a lesser degree, and its columns wee spaced in a way similar to that adopted for the SW corner. Having paid homage to symmetry, since there was no optical reason for increasing substantially the NE corner, the normal intercolumnia of the flank next to the very long corner space of 4,730 mm. were made unusually short, being 4,263 and 4,281 mm. At the opposite corner, on the contrary, next to the corner space of 4,724 mm., there was placed an intercolumnium of 4,306 mm, which is exceptionally.


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