I love this description of Greek architecture as being a mathematical exercise in measuring of the sun’s progress and its advancing shadows.

Noon: the asphodels, cypresses, oleanders are stilled. A steamy silence strewn with crickets. The sacrificial fragrance rises endlessly.  I sit inside the temple and watch the journey of shadows.  It is not an accidental, melancholic wandering of darkness but a precise movement of lines dissecting the right angle.  It suggests that Greek architecture originated in the sun.  Greek architects knew the art of measuring with shadows.  The north-south axis was marked by the shortest shadow cast by the sun’s zenith.

See also Herbert’s comment on the difference between temples and cathedrals, and Patrick Leigh Fermor’s account of the spiritual effects of Greek temples.

Source: Zbigniew Herbert, Barbarian in the Garden, trans. Michael March & Jaroslaw Anders (New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1985), p. 24

Photo credit: Darryl Low at unsplash


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