under the Ptolemaic dynasties, various river plants were employed decoratively and the lotus capital goes through various modifications (fig. 3) Some kind of volute capital is shown in the Assyrian bas-reliefs, but no Assyrian capital has ever been found, those exhibited as such in the British Museum are bases.
Fig. 1.—Lotus Capital from Karnak.Fig.—2 Papyrus Capital from Karnak.
The Persian capital belongs to the third class above mentioned, the brackets are carved with the lion (fig. 4) or the griffin projecting right and left to support and lessen the bearing of the architrave, and on their backs carry other brackets at right angles to support the cross timbers. The profuse decoration underneath the bracket capital in the palace of Xerxes and elsewhere, serves no structural function, but gives some variety to the extenuated shaft.
Fig. 3.—Modified Lotus Capital from Philae. Fig. 4.—Persian Capital from Persepolis.
Fig. 5.—Early Greek Capital from the Tomb of Agamemnon, Mycenae.
The earliest Greek capital is that shown in the Temple-fresco at Cnossus in Crete (1600 B.C.); it was of the first type—convex, and was probably moulded in stucco: the second is represented by the richly carved example of the columns (fig 5) flanking the tomb of Agamemnon in Mycenae (c. 1100 B.C.), also convex, carved with the chevron device, and with an apophyge on which the buds of some flowers are sculptured. The Doric capital of the temple of Apollo at Syracuse (c. 700 B.C.) follows, in which the echinus moulding has become a more definite form: this in the Parthenon reaches its culmination, where the convexity is at the top and bottom with a delicate uniting curve The sloping side of the echinus becomes flatter in the later examples, and in the Colosseum at Rome forms a quarter round.
Fig. 6.—Corinthian Capital from the Tholos of Epidaurus.
Fig. 7.—Roman Capital from the Temple of Mars Ultor, Rome.
In the Ionic capital of the Archaic temple of Diana at Ephesus (560 B.C.) the width of the abacus is twice that of its depth, consequently the earliest Ionic capital known was virtually a bracket capital. A century later, in the temple on the Ilissus, published in Stuart and Revett, the abacus has become square. One of the most beautiful Corinthian capitals is that from the Tholos of Epidaurus (400 B.C.) (fig. 6); it illustrates the transition between the earlier Greek capital of Bassae and the Roman version of the temple of Mars Ultor (fig. 7).
The foliage of the Greek Corinthian capital was based on the Acanthus spinosus, that of the Roman on the Acanthus mollis; the capital of the temple of Vesta and other examples at Pompeii are carved with foliage of a different type.
Byzantine capitals are of endless variety; the Roman composite capital would seem to have been the favourite type they followed at first: subsequently, the block of stone was left rough as it came from the quarry, and the sculptor, set to carve it, evolved