The architectural style of Rome was firmly rooted in the Hellenistic traditions.However, Roman architecture is probably more accurately reflected in the developmentof new engineering skills and secular monuments than the ideas of gods and perfectionthat birthed the Greek architecture. They introduced not only new ways to construct amore efficient building but also a entirely different purpose for the building to be built.While still holding the beauty that was so masterfully achieved by the Greek culture andadding their own practically and ingenuity, the Romans developed an architectural stylethat remains to this day. The Greeks people had a very good reason, in their minds, to build a beautifulpiece of architecture; the worship of gods. Most all of the examples of Greek architecturethat we know of today were temples.
The gods were the driving force behind any majorarchitecture of the Hellenistic period. This is not true of the Roman culture. Though theRomans did build temples to their gods, the Roman style was more predominantly seenin public dwellings and social gathering areas, such as basilicas and forums, than in theirtemples. In fact, a majority of the temples that the Romans built were nothing more thancopies of Greek temples, with the exception of the domed Pantheon that will bediscussed later. Also, the Romans included their emperors in the temples along with thegods and sometimes the temple was just for the emperor himself. Another major difference between Greek and Roman architecture was thepurpose behind the building. Greek architecture was meant to be viewed as a piece of artwork that was dedicated to the gods. This is easy to see from the ornateness of theoutside of the building with the pediments and metopes and the rather drabness of theinside with the exception of the friezes.
The Greek designed it as a sculpture in a sense,with all of the beauty to be viewed from the outside. This way of thinking is turnedcompletely around in the Roman architectural style. Although the Roman building arebeautiful on the outside, the true art lies on the inside with the many-colored walls andpaintings that gave a sense of depth to the room. Also, the Roman architect wasconcerned with the lighting of the room so that the interior decorations could be seenclearly. These things were important to the Romans because their buildings were meantto be gathering places for the public. The basilica was one such of these types ofbuildings that was intended to be a gathering place for Romans citizens to hold meetingand perhaps even courts. Bathhouses and market places know as forums are yet otherexamples of the types of building that the Romans focused on making pleasing to the eyeon the inside rather than the outside.
Not only did the Romans differ on why to build a building but they also madedrastic differences on how to build it. The Greeks used what is know as a post andlintel system of designing a building. This is basically the idea of standing to columnsup and placing a beam across them.
A very simple and easy construction but on the otherhand not a very strong one. As the Roman civilization grew larger and larger thebuildings they used for meetings and markets of course had to grow too. This presented aproblem with the use of columns, because the big the building, the more columns neededto hold it up. Thus the Romans turned to engineering for the solution and the arch wasborn. By using arches instead of columns and beams, the weight of the structure wasspread evenly out and toward the ground rather than directly down on the beam. Thisincreased the amount of weight that could be supported in a single area and thus givingmore room on the inside by taking away previously necessary columns, though they didkeep some around for decoration.
This invention of course changed the mindset on theconstruction of regular building that would have relied of columns, but it also was astepping stone to another invention. The dome is nothing more than a network of archesthat form an enclosed building. This is the theory that created the Pantheon, a circulardome that was the temple to the gods. It is one of the first of its kind and has stood forthousands of years while other building designed