CHAPTER IV. ART IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE.
Such was the massive grandeur of Egyptian antiquities: at the best curiosities, but of slight avail for moral or aesthetic culture, they yet indicate a considerable civilization at a very remote period - proving not merely by architectural monuments, but by their system of writing, an original and intellectual people. [Footnote: Muller, Ancient Art; Wilkinson, Topog. of Thebes; Champollion, Lettres Ecrites d'Egypt;Journal des Sav. 1836; Encyclopedia Britannica; Strabo.]
Of Babylonian architecture we know but little, beyond what the Scriptures and ancient authors allude to in scattered notices. But, though nothing survives of ancient magnificence, we feel that a city whose walls, according to Herodotus, were eighty-seven feet in thickness, three hundred and thirty-seven in height, and sixty miles in circumference, and in which were one hundred gates of brass, must have had considerable architectural splendor. The Tower of Belus, the Palace of Nebuchadnezzar, and the Obelisk of Semiramis, were probably wonderful structures, certainly in size, which is one of the conditions of architectural effect.
The Tyrians must have carried architecture to considerable perfection, since the Temple of Solomon, one of the most magnificent in the ancient world, was probably built by Phoenician artists. It was not remarkable for size; it was, indeed, very small; but it had great splendor of decoration. It was of quadrangular outline, erected upon a solid platform of stone, and having a striking resemblance to the oldest Greek temples, like those of aegina and Paestum. The portico of the temple, in the time of Herod, was one hundred and eighty feet high, and the temple itself was entered by nine gates thickly coated with silver and gold. The inner sanctuary was covered on all sides with plates of gold, and was dazzling to the eye. The various courts and porticoes and palaces with which it was surrounded, gave to it a very imposing effect.
[Early Doric monuments.]
[The principles of Doric architecture.]
[The features of the Doric order.]