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Ancient Greek Architecture in Modern Political America: Three Branches

White House -- Looking South . . .

A daytime landscape photograph of the south portico of the White House in Washington D.C.  

Executive: though not as definitively "Greek-looking" on the south side, if you were to look at the north-facing side, you would see a facade very similar to the facade of the Supreme Court and the entry to the U.S. Capitol Building, and both of those bear striking similarities to the kind of architecture we find on the Athenian Acropolis. This is an act of uniformity; each of the three buildings that symbolize the three branches of the American government, the balance of power within that government, the function of democracy in the modern world, and one of the moxt powerful nations in the world bears some kind of noticeable and meaningful resemblance to the buildings within which the first conversations of democracy occurred. 

[The Supreme Court Building]

A centered, plain photograph of the U.S. Supreme Court Building as it faces East Capitol Street.

Judicial: the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, looks just like the Parthenon (just imagine that the wings that bisect the main walls (that resemble the Parthenon most) are gone, and you'll see what I mean). The caption on the back side of the postcard claims that the building is of "classic design."

United States Capitol

A stunning nighttime view of the United States Capitol Building in Washington D.C.

Legislative: while the dome itself might remind you of the Roman Pantheon (with good reason, as it was its inspiration (Allen 21)), there is no denying that the entry to the U.S. capitol building (which is framed, in an almost epic way, on either side by picturesque streetlamps and dark, shadowy tree branches that work to guide our eyes to the capitol steps and door) is reminiscent of the Parthenon. The frieze might not be painted, and there may be no Ancient Greeks on the steps, but the contextually-appropriate ideologies of Ancient Greece (namely essences of democratic thought) are present by architectural association just the same.

 

Ancient Greek Architecture in Modern Political America: Three Branches