Treading on the {\it rhythmos\/} of a Greek temple

Maria Karvouni, University of Pennsylvania


This thesis explores the concepts of rhythmos in the Greek Arts and compares its role in Music and Architecture. It also investigates the nature and origins of the peristasis, the colonnade around the Greek temple which, it argues, is the element that provides the temple with its rhythmos. The peristasis is first investigated through linguistic and historical references. It is then argued that the "ring of columns" around a Greek temple is the architectural analogue of a choros that embodies in inert material the Greek ritual par excellence, namely the religious processional dance around a sacred center. The peristasis is presented as the ritual choros "abstracted" to its essentials and captured in matter for timeless demonstration.^ This connection between the architectural peristasis (the chorus of columns standing around) and the ritual peristasis (the chorus of humans standing around) is then investigated through the concept of rhythmos. Rhythmos defines spatial arrangements as well as temporal ones; it achieves this through the body of the dancers or, through tectonic elements that embody human attributes, namely the columns. Rhythmos, which was originally the disposition of a human being or of life in general, is also the disposition (diathesis) in music and in building, in both a literal and a metaphorical sense. It, therefore, transfers human traits into art form and, by doing so, humanizes time and space. In a temple this made possible through the peristasis, the "community of columns."^ Rhythmos unites the notion of movement with that of form, and the two together with a feeling of structure in human life and character. It is the "form or pattern" through which motion approaches the stillness of a temple but which also makes a temple move perpetually in its stillness. ^

Subject Area

Fine Arts|Art History|Dance|Architecture

Recommended Citation

Karvouni, Maria, "Treading on the {\it rhythmos\/} of a Greek temple" (1997). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9814868.