If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:6:32

Video transcript

we're in a small town on the Mediterranean called Paestum paestum is the Roman name or the Latin name before that it was Greek and it was called Poseidon eeeh the town was named after the god of the sea Poseidon this was a Greek settlement sometimes called the colony although it was really an independent small Greek city and there were lots of these all over the south of Italy and what historians call magma greco or the greater Greece and Greece had colonies in Italy but also in many other places in the Mediterranean including what is now Turkey paestum contains three fabulously preserved ancient Greek Doric temples - from the archaic period of the sixth century and one from the Classical period of the fifth century the Greeks over time adjusted the proportions of the architecture of the width of the columns the number of columns on the front and side always in a search for perfection and/or ideal beauty the oldest of the three is dedicated to the goddess Hera who was the wife of Zeus this temple heroine has all of the elements that we would expect to see in a Doric temple it's got massive heavy columns that have no feet they go directly into the platform of the temple itself the Styla bite they rise up with a shallow broad fluting and end in a very simple geometric capital in addition that temple it has a kind of exaggerated and TASIS the column isn't straight it bulges towards the middle and tapers towards the top in this case is so exaggerated it makes it seem as if the column is bulging under the weight above and the Capitals also almost seem flattened by the weight of the roof so there's a real sense of horizontality and of wait in the oldest of these temples the temple is an interesting deviation at the front of it has nine columns across and that's a little bit peculiar because it's an odd number you have to walk around that Center a column weak temples were really meant as houses for the gods not the way we think of a temple or church as a place of worship the worship would have happened outside of the temple but in the case of heroine there's a row of columns right in the middle of the cella so it's hard to imagine how the cult statue fit inside actually there's a number of different theories about this some have suggested that perhaps this was a temple to both Hera and her husband Zeus in which case perhaps there were too cold statues in the back but to be honest nobody knows for sure there is a lovely sense of balance of the proportion of heroine of this oldest of the three temples you've got nine columns in the front down the side you've got 18 so you've got a very neat geometric doubling and art historians really like to contrast the older heroine with so-called Hera 2 from the Classical period which is very different in its proportions it has a much greater sense of verticality of being more slender of not being so subsumed under the weight of the roof it's also in many ways better preserved in that we can see the frieze with the triglyphs and metopes and part of the pediment remains but probably the biggest difference for me between heroine and the so-called Hera 2 is that Hera 2 is much closer to what we have come to expect from a Doric temple such as the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens this has six columns in the front so it is symmetrical in the front there is a gap in the middle that we could walk through and the side contains fourteen columns this temple though has some other kinds of variations it's got a second colonnade just in back of the first and then the interior space is defined by an outer wall and then a colonnade that has a second set of columns above it this seems to be a better solution for supporting the roof than a row of columns down the center that we see in heroine so let's spend a moment really looking at Hera two and looking at the changes that have taken place the columns have a less pronounced in TASIS in addition the Flair the top of the column of the base of the Capitol is not as exaggerated it's not as wide or as plate-like as it was in heroin and as a result the structure has a greater sense of lift but one of the things that's often missing from a discussion of both of these temples is the location all around our even older Greek ruins and Roman ruins the Romans would conquer this area would take the entire Peninsula of Italy they would push out the Greeks in the south of Italy and push out the Etruscans in the north they took this area of paestum in the 3rd century BCE so that's when this became Roman so all around these temples are Roman houses Roman apartment blocks there's an amphitheater so these things literally coexisting when we look at Hera - you know this classical Doric temple I think it's also useful to think about ancient Greek sculpture that was made at this time like the difference or some of the images of gods and goddesses that we saw today in the museum in Naples or of Greek athletes and heroes we're at this moment of what was called the Golden Age of Greece of Periclean Athens of the invention of democracy of humanist philosophy culture that at this very moment was inventing the geometry that we still use was seeking to understand the movements of the heavens the movement of the human body was inventing the philosophy that we still struggle with we're looking at artifacts at buildings that were created by a culture that profoundly shaped our world both of these temples and the third temple that archaeologists believe was dedicated to Minerva or Athena all have a sense to me of rising out of the landscape of giving form to human aspiration you