In classical Greek architecture, columns were of three orders: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. Doric columns were spartan (though, not Spartan) and simple, boringly consisting of a flat, unadorned frieze atop a 20-paneled shaft. Geometrically sound, but visually blah. If Al Gore were an ancient Greek column, you can bet he’d be Doric. Ionic columns, however, had a natty sense of Old World style: sleek, elegant, with just the right amount of flair up top. They were leaner than their Doric brothers, capped by a curlicuey, scroll-shaped hat. Corinthian columns were essentially suped-up Ionians: its shaft was identical, but its tippy-top was overly ornate. Trying to outdo Ionic’s cool panache is an exercise in futility; the result is a flamboyant eyesore. Y.P.R. apologizes for resorting to so cheap a pun, but that’s all we got. Anyway, on with the columns.



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