Iktinos and Kallikrates


KalliKrates (/kəˈlɪkrəˌtz/) was an ancient Greek architect active in the middle of the fifth century BC. He and Iktinos were architects of the Parthenon. An inscription identifies him as the architect of "the Temple of Nike" in the Sanctuary of Athena Nike on the Acropolis. The temple in question is either the amphiprostyle Temple of Athena Nike now visible on the site or a small-scale predecessor (naiskos) whose remains were found in the later temple's foundations. An inscription identifies KalliKrates as one of the architects of the Classical circuit wall of the Acropolis, and Plutarch further states that he contracted to build the Middle of three amazing walls linking Athens and Piraeus.

Iktinos (/ɪkˈtnəs/), fl. 2d half of 5th cent. B.C., one of the greatest architects of Greece. His celebrated work is the Parthenon (448–432 BCE) upon the acropolis at Athens, which he built with the architect Kallikrates as associate. Iktinos also built the temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae, near Phigalia, c.430 BCE and is said to have rebuilt the Telesterion at Eleusis.


The Parthenon is a peripteral octastyle Doric temple with Ionic architectural features. It stands on a platform or stylobate of three steps. In common with other Greek temples, it is of post and lintel construction and is surrounded by columns ("peripteral") carrying an entablature. There are eight columns at either end ("octastyle") and seventeen on the sides. There is a double row of columns at either end. The colonnade surrounds an inner masonry structure, the cella, which is divided into two compartments. At either end of the building the gable is finished with a triangular pediment originally filled with sculpture. The columns are of the Doric order, with simple capitals, fluted shafts and no bases. Above the architrave of the entablature is a frieze of carved pictorial panels (metopes), separated by formal architectural triglyphs, typical of the Doric order. Around the cella and across the lintels of the inner columns runs a continuous sculptured frieze in low relief. This element of the architecture is Ionic in style rather than Doric.

Measured at the stylobate, the dimensions of the base of the Parthenon are 228 by 101 ft. The cella was 97.8 × 63.0 ft, with internal colonnades in two tiers, structurally necessary to support the roof. On the exterior, the Doric columns measure 6.2 ft in diameter and are 34 ft high. The corner columns are slightly larger in diameter. The Parthenon had 46 outer columns and 23 inner columns in total, each column containing 20 flutes. The stylobate has an upward curvature towards its center of 2.4 in on the east and west ends, and of 4.3 in on the sides. The roof was covered with large overlapping marble tiles known as imbrices and tegulae.

The Parthenon is regarded as the finest example of Greek architecture. The temple, wrote John Julius Cooper, "enjoys the reputation of being the most perfect Doric temple ever built. Even in antiquity, its architectural refinements were legendary, especially the subtle correspondence between the curvature of the stylobate, the taper of the naos walls and the entasis of the columns." Entasis refers to the slight swelling, of 1/8 inch, in the centre of the columns to counteract the appearance of columns having a waist, as the swelling makes them look straight from a distance. The stylobate is the platform on which the columns stand. As in many other classical Greek temples, it has a slight parabolic upward curvature intended to shed rainwater and reinforce the building against earthquakes. The columns might therefore be supposed to lean outwards, but they actually lean slightly inwards so that if they carried on, they would meet almost exactly a mile above the centre of the Parthenon; since they are all the same height, the curvature of the outer stylobate edge is transmitted to the architrave and roof above: "All follow the rule of being built to delicate curves", Gorham Stevens observed when pointing out that, in addition, the west front was built at a slightly higher level than that of the east front.

It is not universally agreed what the intended effect of these "optical refinements" was; they may serve as a sort of "reverse optical illusion". As the Greeks may have been aware, two parallel lines appear to bow, or curve outward, when intersected by converging lines. In this case, the ceiling and floor of the temple may seem to bow in the presence of the surrounding angles of the building. Striving for perfection, the designers may have added these curves, compensating for the illusion by creating their own curves, thus negating this effect and allowing the temple to be seen as they intended. 

Some studies of the Acropolis, including the Parthenon, conclude that many of its proportions approximate the golden ratio. The Parthenon's façade as well as elements of its façade and elsewhere can be circumscribed by golden rectangles. This view that the golden ratio was employed in the design has been disputed in more recent studies.





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