Greece and Rome can be known to the world as one of the most famous civilizations that lived, Greece specifically being one of the cultural foundations of western civilization to most historians. They thrived with culture, had rulers who influenced some of the decisions that we have made today (like not using a tyranny, but a democracy for government) and because of that Greco Roman architecture has always been viewed as the most recognizable and the most regularly used type of art in the world.
The most common of its architectural advances would be the arch, aqueducts, amphitheaters, and bath house but one of their most important would be what holds their buildings up, their columns. Even to this day Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian columns are used. Greco-Roman architecture was not only known for its columns but also for their sculptures. Their sculptures were one of the first to try to make it look as proportional and most human as possible and in most cases attempted to glorify them (i.
e. in a pose that symbolized strength or showed off their muscles).
Before that, the art would have characteristics that were abnormal, for example bigger eyes for a god, to show how they were all seeing or they appeared human but very stiff looking. They were also used to show the strength of their people. In some cases they were placed inside a temple to keep them from being destroyed easily by the environment. Thanks to many different cultures, (including the Muslim culture) even though Greece’s high influence ended, their culture and architecture was preserved.
The United States has many examples of Greco-Roman architecture but the most easily known is the Lincoln Memorial which is even on the back of our penny and five dollar bill and was also the location where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. The Lincoln Memorial was built in May 30th, 1922 after the United States entered World War 1. The actual sculpture of Abraham Lincoln started at nineteen feet tall and the building, ninety nine feet tall. The thirty six columns used to hold up the building were Doric columns. There were thirty six to act as the thirty six states that were in the union.
The Lincoln Memorial was built of many different kinds of marble, from Massachusetts, Colorado, Tennessee, and Alabama. That may have seemed random but the architect, Henry Bacon specifically chose them to signify “A country torn apart by war can come together, not only to build something beautiful, but also explain the reunification of the states.” The Buildings walls hold his most famous speeches, The Gettysburg Address and his second inaugural speech. (On his second inaugural speech I happened to notice that “future” was spelled wrong and put an E instead of an F and the bottom part was filled in just like the book 14 Facts About The Lincoln Memorial by Caitlind Alexander) Lincoln’s memorial was not only made to commemorate one of our most famous presidents but was also used to symbolize peace and unity.
Most people would ask, what makes Lincoln so special? Well in the early 1980’s about fifty historians and political scientists were asked to rate all the presidents till the one at the time by five categories: How they were as leaders, how they handle crisis at their time, their political skills, who they appointed, and their character and Abraham Lincoln was chosen as first. I think that gives him the right to have a statue built of him and his face on the penny. When I went to go see the Lincoln Memorial it was taller than I expected and the actual building definitely didn’t seem ninety nine feet tall.
There is no doubt Henry Bacon chose to use Greco Roman architecture (and marble) because it symbolized strength and a country that would not easily be broken or forgotten. A clear difference in Greco Roman architecture and the Lincoln Memorial is that Abraham Lincoln’s sculpture is not standing but sitting. When you think of Greco Roman architecture you think of someone showing off their power like one of the more famous Greco roman sculptures, The Discus Thrower.
In this case Lincoln is sitting but I think the reason is because although you might think of a normal sculpture standing up, there was a famous sculpture of someone sitting down before, the sculpture of Zeus at Olympia which is regarded as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Even though Zeus was a god I think what they tried to show about Abraham Lincoln was that even though he was sitting he held great power and responsibilities. What houses Abraham Lincolns statue can also be related to Zeus’ statue because it was used as a deterrent for outside interference, for example constant rain can deteriorate most things after a couple years.
One difference that I do not think most people think of is that the Lincoln Memorial’s roof is not flat like usual Greco Roman architecture. Another difference was that if a Greco Roman sculpture was in a building it usually did not have quotes or speeches inside its walls or near it because the sculptures that were inside were of gods, not necessarily actual people. Last of all I think the reason Henry Bacon chose to use Doric columns was because they were sturdy, not elegant, not just for show, but for strength, to show that this country was built to last.
Cite this Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial. (2016, Jun 10). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/lincoln-memorial/