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I remember learning in elementary school that at some point in their history, the Greeks were building hollow columns to support their building, because they thought that hollow columns would provide more strength, just like wheat is hollow on the inside and very strong. Is this really true? Thanks.
Here's a picture of the fallen columns at Olympia:
Here's one from Ephesus:
Those puppies look pretty solid to me.
I have read that they used lead pins to hold the sections together. The lead is no longer there because it was scavenged during modern times. Much of this took place during the Turkish occupation of Greece. The Turks took the lead to make bullets. Not sure if this is 100% accurate, I can't remember where I read this but I do remember reading or hearing about it somewhere.
The Ancient Greeks had a unique style of architecture that is still copied today in government buildings and major monuments throughout the world. Greek architecture is known for tall columns, intricate detail, symmetry, harmony, and balance. The Greeks built all sorts of buildings. The main examples of Greek architecture that survive today are the large temples that they built to their gods.
- Doric - Doric columns were the most simple and the thickest of the Greek styles. They had no decoration at the base and a simple capital at the top. Doric columns tapered so they were wider on the bottom than at the top.
- Ionic - Ionic columns were thinner than the Doric and had a base at the bottom. The capital at the top was decorated with scrolls on each side.
- Corinthian - The most decorative of the three orders was the Corinthian. The capital was decorated with scrolls and the leaves of the acanthus plant. The Corinthian order became popular in the later era of Greece and also was heavily copied by the Romans.
Greek Orders by Pearson Scott Foremen
Greek temples were grand buildings with a fairly simple design. The outside was surrounded by a row of columns. Above the columns was a decorative panel of sculpture called the frieze. Above the frieze was a triangle shaped area with more sculptures called the pediment. Inside the temple was an inner chamber that housed the statue of the god or goddess of the temple.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
The most famous temple of Ancient Greece is the Parthenon located on the Acropolis in the city of Athens. It was built for the goddess Athena. The Parthenon was built in the Doric style of architecture. It had 46 outer columns each 6 feet in diameter and 34 feet tall. The inner chamber contained a large gold and ivory statue of Athena.
Besides temples, the Greeks built numerous other types of public buildings and structures. They built large theaters that could hold over 10,000 people. The theaters were usually built into the side of a hill and were designed with acoustics that allowed even the back rows to hear the actors. They also built covered walkways called "stoas" where merchants would sell goods and people held public meetings. Other public buildings included the gymnasium, court house, council building, and sports stadium.
Were Greek columns hollow? - History
Greek architecture greatly influenced the blossoming of their culture because it promoted a social lifestyle and honoured their gods. Greek architecture used in temples and monuments was very elaborate and precise. The most famous and elaborate creations were used to honour the gods. For example, the Parthenon in Athens is dedicated to the goddess of the city-state, Athena .
The architecture that was used in everyday homes and living environments promoted a very social lifestyle. This was done by having their homes face inwards, with gardens and windows facing a central courtyard. The courtyard was located in the middle of the house and it was where regular meals and social gatherings of friends and family would take place.
They made great advancements in their ever-growing culture because the " Greeks established many of the most enduring themes, attitudes, and forms of western culture. Architecture is one of the Greek legacies that the western civilization has inherited, as Greece established many of the structural elements, decorative motifs, and building types [that are still] used in architecture today. " (Annely)
Classical Architectural Styles
The Doric architectural style was plain, sturdy, and had a cylindrical shape. Topped with a flat and plain square. Doric columns
s engraved with vertical lines and topped with a rectangular, scroll-like shape. This style came from eastern Greece and was very popular during the Hellenistic period.
Examples of the Ionic style are the Erechtheum, the Temple of Apollo, and the Temple of Athena Nike.
The Corinthian architectural style was similar to the Ionic style because of its elaborate designs at the ends of the pillars.
Cor inthian style was more detai le d and de signs were usually based around nature, like leaves and flowers. Like the other columns, these would be vertically engraved with lines. This was called "fluting."
Examples of the Corinthian style are the Temple of Apollo at Bassae, the monument of Lysicrates and the temple of Zeus at Athens.
Another style of columns was called Caryatid columns. Instead of a cylindrical shape, these columns would have female figures and portrayals used as pillars. This style of column is used at the Acropolis on the temple to Athena.
A traditional Greek home had a block-like formation. It was composed of various rooms surrounding a central courtyard. Though it had no outward facing windows and little decoration, this style of house p romoted a social lifestyle. The courtyard was the most notable section of the house because of the atmosphere. It would be an outdoor room surrounded by a veranda where owners of the home, and their friends and family, would take part in meals, business, and gatherings.
Another favourite room was the andron. This was the largest room of the house and was o nly used for males. Here, the male members of the house would use this ro o m for entertaining and symposiums. "The andron was situated close to the front entrance so that guests would not see t he women of the house when they arrived." (Walker 141) Though this aspect of the home did not promote equalization of women, it was still a main gathering point where men conducted political, and other intellectual discussions.
Another room was used just for the women. Like the andron, the gynaikon was just for the women. Whenever a male gathering would take place, men would bring their wives, and this is where all the women would gather to tend to their children and talk about household activities.
Another traditional gathering place would be the agora, or the central market place. The busiest parts of the agora were the stoas. These would be used in business and in socialization.
Theatres in Ancient Greece
Materials Used In Building
ceramic tile roofs. Since both these materials disintegrate a nd r eform over time, the ground plans are, for the most part, the only eviden ce we have today of the buildings. (Annely) There are many reconstructions and preservations of ancient buildings that are projects today (see image to the right).
The Greeks liked to use limestone, marble, and ivory as building blocks and materials for their temples, monuments, and sculptural decorations. These materials would have been very expensive so they were only used for important jobs. For example, the statue of Athena at the Parthenon was made of gleaming white ivory (image to the left). These materials would be carved into very intricate pieces with detailed designs. Many of the columns of temples and houses were built by stacking textured and shaped blocks on top of each other. Bronze was also used for extra detailing, decoration, statues, and special designs.
The temple of Apollo was made in the 5th century BC but not finished until the 4th century. It was built in Didyma, Turkey and used all three orders (Doric, Ionic and Corinthian). The temple was mostly made with hard fine-grained grey limestone but decorated with marble (Fletcher, 131). The temple of Apollo was distinct from others due to it facing north instead of east and the statue of Apollo being placed in the inner sanctuary.
learn more about the Parthenon through this video!
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The temple of Zeus was most recognized as the perfect Doric example. It was located in the Altis an d considered the most important architecture. The construc tion began in c.470BC and finished before 456BC. The architect was known to be Libon of Elis (Olympia Greece). The temple of Zeus is considered one of the seven wonders of the Ancient world due to the large ivory statue of Zeus himself however, this temple does not exist do this day due to being burned down on purpose and finished off by the earthquake. The picture above shows what architects have imagined the temple to look like.
Seven Wonders of Ancient Greece
Striking Photos of Classical Greek Architecture
Ancient Greek ruins that survive today are among the most iconic landmarks in the world. Grand structures like the Acropolis in Athens are a testament to a culture defined by advancement and innovation, especially inਊrt and architecture.
In the middle of 5th century B.C., Athenian general Pericles paid workers to build temples and other public buildings in the city of Athens. He believed the projects would help him win the support of the people by providing more jobs. The structures&apos design and flawless finish ensured ancient Greece&aposs glorified place in history.
The temples were distinguished by their iconic columns, which were sculpted so they were broader in the middle than at the ends to allow the human eye to take in their grandeur. Each triangular roof included detailed molding featuring sculptures of the gods. Unlike most of today&aposs places of worship, the temples of ancient Greece were actually rarely entered. Worshippers would mostly gather outside and only enter upon bringing offerings.
While we have a sense of what these monuments once looked like when viewing their remains, in ancient times when they retained their original colors and polish, they were undoubtedly even more striking.
Did the ancient Greeks get their ideas from the Africans?
The sitcoms you watch on TV have their roots in classical Greek comedy. The algorithms that fuel the Internet infrastructure you use are based on Greek mathematics. The doctors that save lives every day first take an oath based on a treatise written by the Greek physician Hippocrates. Even the scientific method dates back to ancient Greece.
We here in the modern world owe much to the advancements of the classical Greeks, that much is clear. But have you ever wondered where the Greeks got their ideas?
From 1900 to 1100 B.C., a great civilization reigned over what is now present-day Greece. The Mycenaens created works of art, established trade with other nations and lived in great cities. And then suddenly, mysteriously, the Mycenaean culture collapsed. Greece fell into darkness.
Nomadic tribes came from the North to where a bustling, urbane civilization once stood. Trade ceased, and Greece turned inward. For 500 years Greece stood silent, in what historians now call the Greek Dark Ages. And then, almost overnight in historical terms, a new dawn broke over Greece. Homer created his epic poems the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey," emphasizing honor and virtue to his new countrymen. Trade resumed, once separate city-states united into a democratic republic. Classical Greece was born.
Where did this meteoric rise to prominence come from? Scholars attribute much of Greece's development to its internalization. For 500 years it was peacefully allowed to redevelop itself, astoundingly without any outside threats. But the loftiest of the pursuits of the Greeks would not have been possible were it not for another nearby civilization, one that was established millennia before even Mycenae was founded. The culture was called Kemet. You know it as Egypt.
The civilization that built the Sphinx, raised the pyramids and built the world's first library also produced the world's first physician, created geometry and astronomy and were among the first to explore the nature of our existence. And they passed their knowledge along to the Greeks. Modern people, in turn, have benefited greatly from this early education.
So what exactly did the Greeks learn from the Kemites? Find out on the next page.
What Is the Parthenon Made Out Of?
The Parthenon is constructed out of a combination of limestone and marble. The foundation of the building is limestone, while the columns are made of Pentelic marble, a kind of white, fine-grained marble quarried from the Penteli region in Greece.
Both marble and limestone are principally made up of calcite, a mineral containing calcium, carbon, and oxygen. When calcite sediment accumulates slowly over time, it becomes limestone when limestone is subjected to extreme temperatures and pressures over large periods of time, it becomes marble. Pentelic marble is noted for its veins of pyrite and mica, which lend it a golden tinge. It was used by both the Greeks and Romans for architecture and sculptures. The Parthenon was the first time Pentilic marble was used to construct a building.
Greek architectural orders
Identify the classical orders—the architectural styles developed by the Greeks and Romans used to this day.
An architectural order describes a style of building. In classical architecture each order is readily identifiable by means of its proportions and profiles, as well as by various aesthetic details. The style of column employed serves as a useful index of the style itself, so identifying the order of the column will then, in turn, situate the order employed in the structure as a whole. The classical orders—described by the labels Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian—do not merely serve as descriptors for the remains of ancient buildings, but as an index to the architectural and aesthetic development of Greek architecture itself.
The Doric order
The Doric order is the earliest of the three Classical orders of architecture and represents an important moment in Mediterranean architecture when monumental construction made the transition from impermanent materials (i.e. wood) to permanent materials, namely stone. The Doric order is characterized by a plain, unadorned column capital and a column that rests directly on the stylobate of the temple without a base. The Doric entablature includes a frieze composed of trigylphs (vertical plaques with three divisions) and metopes (square spaces for either painted or sculpted decoration). The columns are fluted and are of sturdy, if not stocky, proportions.
Iktinos and Kallikrates, The Parthenon, 447 – 432 B.C.E., Athens
The Doric order emerged on the Greek mainland during the course of the late seventh century B.C.E. and remained the predominant order for Greek temple construction through the early fifth century B.C.E., although notable buildings of the Classical period—especially the canonical Parthenon in Athens—still employ it. By 575 B.C.E the order may be properly identified, with some of the earliest surviving elements being the metope plaques from the Temple of Apollo at Thermon. Other early, but fragmentary, examples include the sanctuary of Hera at Argos, votive capitals from the island of Aegina, as well as early Doric capitals that were a part of the Temple of Athena Pronaia at Delphi in central Greece. The Doric order finds perhaps its fullest expression in the Parthenon (c. 447-432 B.C.E.) at Athens designed by Iktinos and Kallikrates.
The Ionic order
Ionic capital, north porch of the Erechtheion, 421-407 B.C.E., marble, Acropolis, Athens
As its names suggests, the Ionic Order originated in Ionia, a coastal region of central Anatolia (today Turkey) where a number of ancient Greek settlements were located. Volutes (scroll-like ornaments) characterize the Ionic capital and a base supports the column, unlike the Doric order. The Ionic order developed in Ionia during the mid-sixth century B.C.E. and had been transmitted to mainland Greece by the fifth century B.C.E. Among the earliest examples of the Ionic capital is the inscribed votive column from Naxos, dating to the end of the seventh century B.C.E.
The monumental temple dedicated to Hera on the island of Samos, built by the architect Rhoikos
c. 570-560 B.C.E., was the first of the great Ionic buildings, although it was destroyed by earthquake in short order. The sixth century B.C.E. Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, a wonder of the ancient world, was also an Ionic design. In Athens the Ionic order influences some elements of the Parthenon (447-432 B.C.E.), notably the Ionic frieze that encircles the cella of the temple. Ionic columns are also employed in the interior of the monumental gateway to the Acropolis known as the Propylaia (c. 437-432 B.C.E.). The Ionic was promoted to an exterior order in the construction of the Erechtheion (c. 421-405 B.C.E.) on the Athenian Acropolis (image below).
North porch of the Erechtheion, 421-407 B.C.E., marble, Acropolis, Athens
The Ionic order is notable for its graceful proportions, giving a more slender and elegant profile than the Doric order. The ancient Roman architect Vitruvius compared the Doric module to a sturdy, male body, while the Ionic was possessed of more graceful, feminine proportions. The Ionic order incorporates a running frieze of continuous sculptural relief, as opposed to the Doric frieze composed of triglyphs and metopes.
The Corinthian order
The Corinthian order is both the latest and the most elaborate of the Classical orders of architecture. The order was employed in both Greek and Roman architecture, with minor variations, and gave rise, in turn, to the Composite order. As the name suggests, the origins of the order were connected in antiquity with the Greek city-state of Corinth where, according to the architectural writer Vitruvius, the sculptor Callimachus drew a set of acanthus leaves surrounding a votive basket (Vitr. 4.1.9-10). In archaeological terms the earliest known Corinthian capital comes from the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae and dates to c. 427 B.C.E.
The defining element of the Corinthian order is its elaborate, carved capital, which incorporates even more vegetal elements than the Ionic order does. The stylized, carved leaves of an acanthus plant grow around the capital, generally terminating just below the abacus. The Romans favored the Corinthian order, perhaps due to its slender properties. The order is employed in numerous notable Roman architectural monuments, including the Temple of Mars Ultor and the Pantheon in Rome, and the Maison Carrée in Nîmes.
Legacy of the Greek architectural canon
The canonical Greek architectural orders have exerted influence on architects and their imaginations for thousands of years. While Greek architecture played a key role in inspiring the Romans, its legacy also stretches far beyond antiquity. When James “Athenian” Stuart and Nicholas Revett visited Greece during the period from 1748 to 1755 and subsequently published The Antiquities of Athens and Other Monuments of Greece (1762) in London, the Neoclassical revolution was underway. Captivated by Stuart and Revett’s measured drawings and engravings, Europe suddenly demanded Greek forms. Architects the likes of Robert Adam drove the Neoclassical movement, creating buildings like Kedleston Hall, an English country house in Kedleston, Derbyshire. Neoclassicism even jumped the Atlantic Ocean to North America, spreading the rich heritage of Classical architecture even further—and making the Greek architectural orders not only extremely influential, but eternal.
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H. Berve, G. Gruben and M. Hirmer, Greek temples, theatres, and shrines (New York: H. N. Abrams, 1963).
F. A. Cooper, The Temple of Apollo Bassitas 4 vol. (Princeton N.J.: American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 1992-1996).
J. J. Coulton, Ancient Greek Architects at Work: Problems of Structure and Design (Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press, 1982).
W. B. Dinsmoor, The Architecture of Greece: an Account of its Historic Development 3rd ed. (London: Batsford, 1950).
W. B. Dinsmoor, The Propylaia to the Athenian Akropolis, 1: The predecessors (Princeton NJ: American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 1980).
P. Gros, Vitruve et la tradition des traités d’architecture: fabrica et ratiocinatio: recueil d’études (Rome: École française de Rome, 2006).
G. Gruben, “Naxos und Delos. Studien zur archaischen Architektur der Kykladen.” Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts 112 (1997): 261–416.
Marie-Christine Hellmann, L’architecture Grecque 3 vol. (Paris: Picard, 2002-2010).
A. Hoffmann, E.-L. Schwander, W. Hoepfner, and G. Brands (eds), Bautechnik der Antike: internationales Kolloquium in Berlin vom 15.-17. Februar 1990 (Diskussionen zur archäologischen Bauforschung 5), (Mainz am Rhein: P. von Zabern, 1991).
M. Korres, From Pentelicon to the Parthenon: The Ancient Quarries and the Story of a Half-Worked Column Capital of the First Marble Parthenon (Athens: Melissa Publishing House, 1995).
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A. W. Lawrence, Greek Architecture 5th ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996).
D. S. Robertson, Greek and Roman Architecture 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969).
J. Rykwert, The Dancing Column: On Order in Architecture (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1996).
E.-L. Schwandner and G. Gruben, Säule und Gebälk: zu Struktur und Wandlungsprozess griechisch-römischer Architektur: Bauforschungskolloquium in Berlin vom 16. bis 18. Juni 1994 (Mainz am Rhein: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1996).
M. Wilson Jones, “Designing the Roman Corinthian Order,” Journal of Roman Archaeology, vol. 2, 1989, pp. 35-69.
Stone may be the material of permanence, but America is a land rich in timber and for most of the 19th and 20th centuries the most commonly available columns were wood. By the 1980s, the introduction of man-made polymers, as well as changes at some of the venerable manufacturers in the industry, began to take their toll on the pre-eminence of the wood column, but several long-time manufacturers still serve the market.
According to Bob McVicker, general manager of Somerset Door and Column Co. in Somerset, PA, people choose wood columns because of the material’s traditional qualities. “If you knock on wood, it feels solid – no ping or hollow sound like metal or fiberglass.” He says that appearance is a big factor too. “In a lot of fiberglass products, you won’t find really square corners all the details are relieved a little bit so they can be released from a mold. With a wood column, however, there is no mold the corners and details are crisper.”
Not surprisingly, the clear, rot-resistant, domestic wood species once used to make building columns have changed over the decades. “Years ago, redwood was one of Somerset’s top sellers,” says McVicker, 𠇋ut of late we’ve been working in Northeastern white pine, cypress, Spanish cedar and African mahogany for exterior columns.” For manufacturers like Somerset, who have been making wood columns for over a century, this has not reduced their capability.
McVicker reports that while Somerset’s traditional columns are single-piece and load-bearing, they can also accommodate modern building codes. “Where steel structure is required, we can manufacture split-for-assembly columns to wrap I-beams or steel posts,” he says. And size is not a hurdle either. Somerset, for example, can custom-manufacture both round and square columns 40-in. in diameter and to an amazing 40-ft. in length. Says McVicker, 𠇊s far as I know, we have the largest wood lathe in the United States.”
Sculpture in the Greek Geometric Period
Although derived from geometric shapes, the Ancient Greek sculptures of the Geometric period show some artistic observation of nature.
Identify the key characteristics of the sculptures produced during the Geometric period
- Geometric sculptures are primarily small scale and made of bronze , terra cotta , or ivory . The bronze figures were produced using the lost-wax method of casting .
- The human and animal figures produced during this period have geometric features, although the legs on humans appear relatively naturalistic.
- Geometric bronzes were typically left as votive offerings at shrines and sanctuaries , such as those at Delphi and Olympia.
- Horses came to symbolize wealth due to the high costs of their upkeep.
- votive: An type of offering deposited within a religious site without the purpose of display or retrieval.
The ancient Greek sculptures of the Geometric period , although derived from geometric shapes, bear evidence of an artistic observation of nature in some circumstances. Small-scale sculptures, usually made of bronze, terra cotta, or ivory, were commonly produced during this time. Bronzes were made using the lost-wax technique, probably introduced from Syria, and were often left as votive offerings at sanctuaries such as Delphi and Olympia.
The human figures are made of a triangle as a torso that supports a bulbous head with a triangular chin and nose. Their arms are cylindrical, and only their legs have a slightly more naturalistic shape. These attributes can be seen in a small sculpture of a seated man drinking from a cup that displays the typical modeling figures as simple, linear forms that enclose open space . Especially noteworthy are his elongated arms that mirror the dimensions of his legs.
Seated Male Figure: This is made of bronze and created around 750–700 BCE. Note how the statue’s elongated arms mirror the dimensions of his legs.
A relatively naturalistic rendering of human legs is also evident in Man and Centaur, also known as Heracles and Nessos (c. 750–730 BCE). Without the equine back and hind legs, the centaur portion of the sculpture is a shorter man with human legs.
Like the seated man above, the two figures feature elongated arms, with the right arm of the centaur forming one continuous line with the left arm of the man. While the seated man appears to be clean shaven, the figures in Man and Centaur wear beards, which usually symbolized maturity. The hollow eye sockets of the figure of the man probably once held inlay for a more realistic appearance.
Man and Centaur (Heracles and Nessos) : This bronze statue was made around 750–730 BCE.
Animals, including bulls, deer, horses, and birds, were also based in geometry. Horse figurines were commonly used as offerings to the gods. The animals themselves became symbols of wealth and status due to the high cost of keeping them. Equine bodies may be described as rectangles pinched in the middle with rectangular legs and tail and are similar in shape to deer or bulls.
The heads of these mammals are more distinctive, as the horse’s neck arches , while the bull and deer have cylindrical faces distinguished by horns or ears. While the animals and people are based in basic geometric shapes, the artists clearly observed their subjects in order to highlight these distinguishing characters.
Geometric Horse statuette: This bronze statue from Olympia, Greece, circa 700 BCE.
The Ancient Greeks may have lived over 2000 years ago, but they left a lasting legacy that still affects Western culture and way of life. During the height of the Greek civilization, Greek culture spread throughout the Mediterranean. It was then imitated by the Ancient Romans. After the Middle Ages, the European Renaissance brought back many aspects of the Greek culture. As a result, we see the affects of Ancient Greece throughout the world today.
The Greek city-state of Athens first introduced the world to the idea of a true democracy. Citizens were allowed to vote for their leaders and on new laws. This idea is prevalent in our world today. Most of the world's governments today have some sort of democracy where the people get to vote and participate in the government.
U.S. Supreme Court Building
Source: USDA photo by Ken Hammond
Some of history's greatest philosophers were Ancient Greeks including Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates. Today, philosophy students still study the writings and teachings of Greek philosophers. Much of western philosophy is based on the ideas of the Ancient Greeks.
The Greeks invented the western drama where written work is performed by actors. Greek theater introduced the ideas of the comedy and the tragedy. Greek theater influenced art throughout Europe including plays such as those written by William Shakespeare. Today, we imitate the Greeks with Broadway plays, Television shows, and movies.
Greek architecture has been imitated throughout history. The Romans copied many of the Greek ideas into their buildings. Later, Renaissance architects tried to imitate the Greek style of architecture. Today, many government buildings are built in the Greek classical style including the U.S. Capitol Building and the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C.
Science and Technology
The Greeks made many advancements in the areas of science and technology. They excelled in the field of mathematics and we still use many of their theories and ideas today. You've probably used the Pythagorean theorem (discovered by the Greek mathematician Pythagoras) to find the sides of a right triangle in geometry. Other areas of Greek technology included medicine (the Hippocratic Oath), astronomy, urban planning, and plumbing.
Olympic Rings by Pierre de Coubertin
The Ancient Greeks loved athletics and sports. Their legacy is exemplified in the modern-day Olympic Games which began with the Ancient Greeks in 776 B.C. During the 2012 Summer Olympics in London over 10,000 athletes participated from over 200 nations. It is estimated that around 4 billion people around the world watched some portion of the 2012 games.
Greek art heavily influenced western art throughout history. The Greeks are most known for their realistic sculpture which tried to capture the beauty and perfection in the subject. Roman art copied the Greeks, and the Romans often had Greeks create sculpture for them. The Renaissance later revived the Greek style and it still can be seen in artwork today.