The Doric Order

The Doric style of ancient Greek architecture represents a continuation of the mushroom regime of the Mukenaian-Greeks, whose megaron ("big-room") structures were superseded in the Geometric period (1050-800 BCE) by elongated apsidal (finger/fungus-like) structures, that in turn were largely replaced by Doric temples in the Archaic period (800-480 BCE). Widely attributed to the legendary Dorian peoples, who are said to have invaded southern Greece from the north late in the second millennium BCE, the name Doric may instead reference Greek dorus meaning "gift", whereby the Doric temple can be viewed as a gift to or from the gods. This being the case, any attribution of the style to the Dorians (Dorikon), or to a raging spear (dori) or knife (doris), or even an assembly of timber shafts and beams (doru), must be treated as false etymology, despite the coincidences. Although the earliest known Doric temple constructed largely of stone is dated from the second half of the seventh century BCE, a Doric temple (perhaps one constructed of timber) may have stood in time for the first recorded Olympic games of 776 BCE. Widely recognised from the Parthenon on the Athenian akropolis (ca. 430 BCE), numerous Archaic examples can still be found, although mostly in perilous ruin, across southern Greece, southwest Italy and Sicily. Doric temples continued to be built into the Hellenistic period (333-31 BCE), but ceased when Greece was annexed by Rome.

Parthenon Plan
Plan of the Parthenon, Athens

The Doric temple basically consists of a multi-stepped platform supporting a rectangular array of columns surrounding a central walled enclosure, that in turn supports a continuous epistulion ("that above the columns") and a gabled roof. The central walled enclosure was usually divided into two separate apartments, each accessed by its own door, but neither having any windows. The Doric order is distinguished by its unique style of columns, a row of alternating trigluphos ("thrice-carved") and metopes ("in-between") panels above the architrave ("main beam") of the epistulion, and highly decorated pediments or gable roof ends (see Parthenon Tsunami).

The configuration of a Doric column compares to a mature mushroom, or one whose circular pileus has opened to the shape of a shallow dish. In the older temples, the capitals have a diameter extending almost twice that of the upper shaft, while their undersides were often curved upwards along a graceful spiralling trajectory. To have extended the capitals further, or more like a fully extended pileus, would have required a much stronger and reliable material, and possibly iron or steel reinforcement. However, the subtle bulging (entasis) applied to the tapering shafts, although widely deemed to correct an optical distortion in the overall design, contributes to making the capitals appear larger, and thus more like a fully-extended pileus, without inducing further stresses in the stone. Radial striations carved or painted on the underside of the capitals corresponds directly with gills radiating all round the underside of a mushroom pileus. It should be noted that while the earliest capitals were made to extend considerably beyond the front and rear faces of the overlying architrave, the capital diameter was gradually reduced over succeeding generations until, by the time of the Parthenon, it was made to match the thickness of the architrave.

Nashville Parthenon
Modern reconstruction of the Parthenon at Nashville, Tennessee. Note the red and white metopes, and the purple backdrop to the pediment.
Temple of Apollon, Korinthos
Temple of Apollo, Korinthos (ca. 550 BCE). Note the diameter of the capitals is almost twice that of the upper shaft.

The configuration of a Doric temple is not unlike a fairy ring of mushrooms, where the Mother Mushroom is completely surrounded and physically supported by her offspring, as represented by the external cage of columns. In order to see the Mother Mushroom more clearly, we simply remove the external columns from the picture, but leave the overhanging roof and epistulion in place. Although physically removing these columns would cause the overhanging roof structure to collapse, it should be recognised that the only reason for the installation of the external columns was to support a large overhanging roof. And without such a large overhanging roof (to complete a circular argument), there would have been no need for external columns. Having removed the external columns from the picture, the stepped platform thus becomes the white volva of the Amanita muscaria, the narrow naos represents its slender white stipe, and the overhanging red-tiled roof is the red-skinned pileus. The architrave representing the partial veil, and the trigluphs and metopes representing the gills, thus belong to the Mother Mushroom.

Typical Doric temple
Typical Doric temple.
Typical Doric temple without outer columns
Same temple but with outer columns removed.

The material colour scheme of early Doric temples also closely matches that of a mature Amanita muscaria mushroom, whose red and white-spotted pileus sits atop a snow white stipe and volva. While Greek temples were mostly constructed of white limestone or marble, considerable areas were made of red terracotta, including the metopes, roofs tiles and certain roof ornaments. Also the back wall to the pediments was often painted a dark red or purple, if not covered by a relief of tiles or panels in red terracotta. The placement of white marble sculpture within the front and rear pediments corresponds to the haphazard spread of white spots (remnants of the dispering universal veil) upon the scarlet pileus of the mushroom. The addition of bronze or other golden metal to the sculpture, as used for helmets, shields, weapons and other implements, hints at the golden margin of the pileus. However, the Parthenon ("Virgin") at Athens, which was constructed almost entirely of white marble, including its metopes, roof tiles and other roof ornaments, appears to have been named from its lack of redness, just as juvenile Amanita muscaria mushrooms are completely white. Where pine or oak timber was also used in the temple construction, it should be recognised that these trees represent two of only three known hosts of the Amanita muscaria.

The redness of the metopes also compares to the bloody themes that adorn them, with the metopes along the short ends of the temple usually depicting the violent labours of Erakles (Herakles, Latin Hercules), while those along the sides often portrayed other legendary Greek figures, such as battles against the Kentavroi (Centaurs) or Amazons ("Breastless"). As the ancient Greeks called these side sets of metopes kentavromaxe and amazomaxe respectively, the ancient Greek word for battle, maxe, resonates with the ancient Greek mushroom word, mukes. Combinations of shield and spear, bow and arrow, or man wielding boulder also invoke mushroom imagery. (Of course, now that the world has nuclear weapons, the stage is set for a Big Mushroom War (mega muke maxe)). The placement of the trigluphs and metopes just below eaves level corresponds directly to that of the gills in a mushroom.

Although it could be argued that the rectangular plan of Doric temples hardly compares to the rounded form of a mushroom, the ancient Greeks also built round versions of Doric temples, often called tholoi (not to be confused with the Mukenaian tholoi) but which might be better called rotundas. With only limited internal space, these rotundas had limited utility, and for the most part appear to have served as shrines. For further discussion on the function of Greek temples, see Form Follows Fungus. Nevertheless, as Greek temples were chiefly designed to be viewed from the front, less so from the rear and sides, and hardly ever from above, the mushroom character of the Doric temple is apparent all round.

The ancient Greeks applied the word ekatompedon ("hundred-footed") to some of their temples. While some consider ekatompedon to mean a temple one hundred feet long or wide, the term may have been applied to a temple built to a scale one hundred times the footprint of a mature Amanita muscaria (0.1 - 0.3m pileus diameter => 10 - 30m temple width).

Akroteria - Poseidon Ippios
Akroterion from temple of Poseidon-Ippios.
The green areas may represent oxidised copper.
Akroteria - Olympia
Akroterion from Olympia (cleaned).
Diameter approx. 2 metres.

The gable ends of Doric temples were often crowned with painted terracotta akroteria, some of which were shaped as the greater sector of a circle and striated in radial fashion not unlike the gills of a mushroom. The outer fringe applied to some akroteria compares to the exposed gills around the margins of the pileus, usually seen once the pileus has fully opened and has begun to invert.

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