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Greco-Roman architecture, reception of  

Elizabeth R. Macaulay

Since antiquity Greek and Roman architecture has been subject to diverse and complex receptions. Architectural forms have experienced different and wide-scale transformations across space and time, both in antiquity and in postantique contexts. These adapted forms have emerged because of the complex interactions between building traditions and contemporary needs.

At a fundamental level, architecture must be functional. It must work for the purpose for which it was designed, be it a temple, law court, or residence. Vitruvius endorses this view in De Architectura (I.2.5), the only surviving architectural treatise from Greco-Roman antiquity. At the same time, architecture has a unique ability to concretise ideas. Not only were there political, religious, economic, social, and ideological concepts associated with specific types of ancient buildings, but the architectural forms of the classical world have had a powerful range of resonances that postantique architects, patrons, and regimes have been only too keen to exploit. Classical architectural forms come with a lot of baggage.