Greek Temple Anatomy

Introduction

The Greek temple may be divided vertically into three parts: floor, columns, and entablature. Each of these parts may be divided into three again.

Anatomy of a Greek Temple

Floor

The temple floor, which is not affected by the temple's order, is traditionally comprised of three stepped layers.1

Greek Temple Floor

Columns

A column consists of a base, shaft and capital. The base may or may not rest on a plinth (a slab or pedestal). The shaft may be plain or fluted. The capital is the most distinctive feature of each order (see Classical Orders).

Unfluted Column with Plinth
Fluted Column without Plinth

Entablature

The columns support the entablature, which consists of three layers: architrave (bottom), frieze (middle), and cornice (top).

The architrave, which may be plain or divided into steps, is separated from the frieze by a band of moulding. The frieze may be plain or sculpted. The cornice, which overhangs the lower levels, is edged with crown moulding (see Moulding) and may be embellished with corbels (triangular decorations that appear to support an overhang).2

Stepped Architrave, Plain Frieze
Stepped Architrave, Sculpted Frieze
Plain Architrave, Sculpted Frieze
Corbel
1 - "Greek Art and Architecture: Architecture", Encarta. Accessed May 2009.
2 - "Order (architecture)", Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed May 2009.