The Corner Spaces
In spite of the fact that Balanos’ figu
res 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:
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:
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:
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.