CHAPTER V.
BYZANTINE DETAILS* AND ORNAMENTAL SYSTEM.

IN the early Middle Ages the classic buildings were plundered for their columns and capitals as long as any could be found. It is pure chance or the inexhaustible supply of ruins in certain instances (like the city of Rome, where very little building moreover was done in the later Middle Ages) that has left us any ruins at all. The piecemeal adaptation of the old material to new uses is found in many places. Besides these direct adaptations of classic forms new ones were designed in more or less original departures from them. Capitals which clearly go back to Corinthian or Ionic originals are found as late as the twelfth century. All of these had Byzantine prototypes. There is, however, a distinctive form of Byzantine capital, the cube form, expanding from the neck of the column to an intermediate supporting member (which took the place of the ancient abacus), which has many beautiful variants. The surface ornaments of these capitals, like other ornamental Byzantine details, are simplified evolutions from the classic scrolls, spirals, acanthus leaves, and trefoils, which they frequently also repeat in very obvious derivative forms. There are many beautiful Byzantine capitals in Ravenna, in Venice (St. Mark's), and in Constantinople. The later Romanesque churches continued many of their forms and details. The true artistic genius of the Byzantine art is nowhere so immediately obvious as in its architectural

____________________
*
The word "detail" is applied in architectural use to any ornamental pattern and especially to architectural carved ornament.

-174-

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