Doric order, earliest of the orders of architecture developed by the Greeks and the one that they employed for most buildings. It is generally believed that the column and its capital derive from an earlier architecture in wood. The cornice details, which have a resemblance to carpentry forms, have also led to the theory of its origin in wooden forms. The type had arrived at a definite form in the 7th cent. B.C., but further improvements produced the perfected order of the 5th cent. B.C. as it appeared in the Parthenon and the Propylaea at Athens (see under propylaeum). It continued to be used by the Greeks until about the 2d cent. B.C. The Greek Doric column has no base. Its massive shaft, generally treated with 20 flutes, terminates in a simple capital composed of a group of annulets, a projecting curved molding called the echinus, and a square slab or abacus at the top. The entablature, which is generally about one third the column height, consists of a plain architrave, a frieze ornamented with channeled triglyphs between which are square spaces or metopes sometimes used for sculpture, and a cornice. The cornice has projecting blocks or mutules in its exposed lower surface or soffit, above which is a plain vertical face or corona, finished by a group of crowning moldings. The proportions, heavy in the earliest Doric columns, became more slender in the perfected type, the entasis became less sharp, and the echinus projection was diminished. The Roman Doric, while derived from the Greek, was probably also influenced by a simple and slender column developed by the Etruscans. It was infrequently used, but examples are seen in the Colosseum and the theater of Marcellus. The column differs from the Greek in its addition of a base and in changes in the capital profile. The 16th-century Italians established as a Tuscan order a form of simplified Doric in which the column had a simpler base and was unfluted, while both capital and entablature were without adornments. For the other Greek orders see Ionic order and Corinthian order. See also orders of architecture.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
More on Doric order from Infoplease:
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Architecture