‘The Fifth Wonder of the World, The Temple of Diana at Ephesus’.
Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, Entwurff Einer Historischen Architectur: in Abbildung unterschiedener berühmten Gebäude des Alterthums und fremder Völcker; umb aus den Geschicht-büchern, Gedächtnüß-münzen, Ruinen, und eingeholten wahrhafften Abrißen, vor Augen zu stellen (Leipzig, 1725), Book 1, plate 7 (Temple of Diana at Ephesus).
Book I of Fischer von Erlach’s Entwurff Einer Historischen Architectur examines the Seven Wonders of the World and describes the Temple of Artemis/Diana (no longer in existence), in the following terms:
This Temple was 425 Foot long, & 220 broad. It was adorn’d on the Out- & Inside with 127 Columns of the most exquisite Marble, 60 Foot in Height, of which 36 had Ornaments of Basso Relievo. All Asia was employ’d in the Building of this Temple for the Space of 220 Years. It was designedly, and at vast Charge, rais’d on a marshy Ground, to secure it from Earthquakes. Eustacias, observes, that in his Time the World was ignorant of the first Founder of it. Pliny & Strabo name Chersiphron for the Architect. The former, as well as Vitruvius, mention likewise Ctisiphron, and observe in particular, that the Invention of placing Pillars upon Pedestals was first put in Practice at the Building of this Temple. All the Timber, which was employ’d in it, was Cypress, excepting the Beams & Doors, which were of Cedar. A Stair-case, made of the Wood of Cyprus-Vines, led up to the Top of the Temple. According to Pliny, the Form of it was an Oblong, whose Length was twice its Breadth.’
In this description we see Fischer von Erlach’s attention to historical detail. His citing of Pliny, Strabo, Vitruvius and Eustasius was not only because the temple was no longer in existence, following its destruction in 401 AD, but because he strongly felt that any description should be verified by accurate established ancient sources.
Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, Entwurff Einer Historischen Architectur: in Abbildung unterschiedener berühmten Gebäude des Alterthums und fremder Völcker; umb aus den Geschicht-büchern, Gedächtnüß-münzen, Ruinen, und eingeholten wahrhafften Abrißen, vor Augen zu stellen (Leipzig, 1725), Book 1, plate 5 (Temple of Zeus at Olympia).
Fischer von Erlach was interested in all notable features of a building and here we see his focus has moved away from the Temple of Zeus/Jupiter itself to give us an indication of the famed Colossus of Zeus at Olympia. He tells us that:
This Statue was made by that most famous Sculptor, Phidias. It was compos’d of Ivory, Gold & Precious Stones, fitting upon a Throne equally marvellous. The whole Height was 60 (Germ.) Ells; And was plac’d at the furthermost End of the Temple of the same Jupiter at Elis or Olympia (now Langonica) a City situate between Arcadia & Achaia. It was of such accomplish’t Art, that the Olympian Games, ancient Exercises of Hercules, reviv’d by Iphitus, which were celebrated every four Years, and serv’d the Greeks for their Epoch 776 Years before the Birth of our Saviour, did not render this Country more famous, than the Perfection of this Work.’
Fischer doesn’t entirely ignore the features of the enclosing structure of this gigantic statue – and is quick to point out his own embellishments: the Corinthian order of the columns, visible in this image, was Fischer von Erlach’s extrapolation from the Temple of Jupiter Stator at Rome. He was on firmer ground when he moved to the outside of the building, for here he could point to the authority of other historians who declared that it was a Doric temple. Built between 472 and 456BC it was the oldest of the temples pictured on this webpage.
John Potter, Archaeologia Graeca, sive Veterum Graecorum : praecipue vero Atheniensium, ritus civiles, religiosi, militares et domestici, fusius explicati (Leiden, 1702), plate 1.
This image, from John Potter’s Archaeologia Graeca, reinforces Fisher von Erlach’s suggestion in his description of the Temple of Artemis/Diana at Ephesus that ‘Otherwise the Manner of its Structure was like that of other Grecian Temples, which did not leave much Room for Conjectures because the Grecians vary’d very little in the Construction of these Sorts of Buildings, excepting in the Number and Disposition of the Columns.’ In Potter’s first figure, of the Parthenon at Athens, and his second of the ‘Temple of Theseus’, now known as the Temple of Hephaestus, we can see the overall similarity of plan with that of Artemis/Diana of Ephesus. The Temple of Hephaestus, built of Pentelic and Parian marble and officially inaugurated following the Peace of Nicias in 416-415BC, has a Doric colonnade, similar to that of the earlier Parthenon (completed in 438 BC), whereas Chersiphron’s rebuild of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus c 500 had an Ionic order. To find out more about the Doric and Ionic orders, see the Classical Orders page.
Composite image of Bernard de Montfaucon, L’antiquité expliquée, et représentée en figures (Paris, 1719), 5 vols. in 10, vol. 2, pt. 1, plate 30 (detail of Temple of Baalbek).
An example of Corinthian columns may be seen in this image of the Roman Temple of Bacchus at Baalbek (known in ancient times as Heliopolis). The Temple, commissioned by the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius (86-161 AD), was completed by 250 AD. It became a model for neoclassical architecture in much the same way as Greek temple architecture had influenced the building of Roman temples. In the final image, from the floor of an English temple at Stumfield near Woodstock, we see how themes of ancient Greek decoration were popularised by the ancient Romans throughout their far flung dominions.
Bernard de Montfaucon, L’antiquité expliquée, et représentée en figures (Paris, 1719), 5 vols. in 10, Suppl. vol. 2, plate 6 (Roman floor in English temple at Stumfield near Woodstock).
Fischer von Erlach, Johann Bernhard, Entwurff Einer Historischen Architectur: in Abbildung unterschiedener berühmten Gebäude des Alterthums und fremder Völcker; umb aus den Geschicht-büchern, Gedächtnüß-münzen, Ruinen, und eingeholten wahrhafften Abrißen, vor Augen zu stellen (Leipzig, 1725).
All English quotations are from Fischer von Erlach, Johann Bernhard, A Plan of Civil and Historical Architecture in the Representation of the Most noted Buildings of Foreign Nations…. Divided into Five Books…. Tr. Thomas Lediard, (London, 1737), 2nd edition. Lediard notes that his translation was initially based on the French translation but on chancing to find a German original he then incorporated as much material as possible.
Text : Elizabethanne Boran, Librarian of the Edward Worth Library.