The Parthenon in Athens is the mostfamous Greek temple ever built, considered to be the most perfect example of classicism.It was dedicated to Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war and patron of thecity. Construction began in 448 BC and the temple was finished by 432 BC. TheTemple of Apollo at Didyma was built later, in the Hellenistic period in Asia Minor and was the 4thlargest in the ancient Greek world – around twice the size of the Parthenon. Itwas never completed.
Apollo is the god of poetry, music and the sun, and histemple was built to house one of his oracles. Perhaps the most obvious difference betweenthe structures was the Temple of Apollo’s lack of roof. Instead of an enclosedroom, the temple featured an open central courtyard like other monumental ionictemples. Also, easily seen are the differences in location, as when theParthenon was built it was traditional for temples to be placed above the city,so that the people could retreat there when the city fell under attack. Incontrast, Didyma is built on flat ground thus allowing for its more massivestructure.Another of the fundamental differencesbetween the two temples was that because of their region and period (and so theirstyle of design) the columns used in their construction were different. In theParthenon, the shorter, fatter and simpler Doric columns were used to surroundthe central space. These were purely structural, with little or noornamentation and no base.
They gave the temple its elegance and image ofstability. The Temple of Apollo used principally ionic columns, which areslenderer, have decorative bases and curled rolls of ornamentation at theirtop. There are also two Corinthian columns in the East chamber, furtherincreasing the decorative nature of the temple, as Corinthian columns feature ringsof stylised acanthus leaves upon their capitals. The Parthenon relies on subtletyand attention to detail for its beauty, while the later Temple of Apollofocusses more on scale and decoration. Perhaps the choice of deity and thecharacteristics associated with their subject led to a conscious choice instyle as well as my aforementioned regional reason.
Another difference in the columns wasthe double peristyle nature of the Temple of Apollo, however both Temples keptwith the traditional proportional relationship of column number on the sides(the longer side featuring twice as many as the shorter, plus one so the numberis always odd).A similarity between the temples isthe use of entasis for both. In the Parthenon, the correctional curvature is takento an extreme, with nothing that appears straight being so. The base, thecornice and the columns all have a slight curvature correcting the errors inaesthetic caused by perspective. At Didyma, the same techniques are used, butto a lesser degree. Frontal differentiation was no longer used so the widths ofand distances between the outermost columns were consistent with the rest ofthe temple.