The Ionic style is one of three column styles utilized by builders in ancient Greece, and the Ionic order is one of five classical architectural orders. An Ionic column is more slender and ornamental than a Doric column, with scroll-shaped ornamentation on the capital, which stands at the top of the column shaft. The Ionic style was especially popular during the 5th century BC and 4th century AD. Although used for various purposes including buildings, temples, and statues, it is especially associated with the work of Myron and Polycleitos.
Myron was a Greek sculptor who lived in Athens in the early 5th century BC. He is regarded as one of the founders of modern sculpture because of his elegant and idealized figures that were made from bronze or marble. His most famous work is a group of four athletes standing side by side but looking in different directions (now in the National Gallery, London). This shows that strength was not everything in battle; skill and strategy were also important factors. Myron's works are noted for their realism and elegance, which influenced many later sculptors.
Polycleitos of Argos was a prominent architect in his own right, who worked in Athens around 430 BC. He is best known for having designed the original Olympic Games stadium, which was used for several historic athletic events including the Ancient Olympic Games themselves.
Because the Ionic column is usually more slender than the Doric, it always has a base. In the Antebellum colonnades of late American Greek Revival plantation homes, ionic columns are eight to nine column-diameters tall, and even taller. Ionic columns are frequently fluted. The top of each column is typically crowned with a small circular or egg-shaped capstone.
The word "ionic" comes from the Greek word ion, which means salt. Thus, an ionic column is one made of salt. Colonnaded entrances were very popular in the South between about 1800 and 1880. They're found in many large Southern houses, including Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. Ionic capitals on free-standing pillars were also used by the Romans, who called them "capitellans."
People often wonder why colonnaded entrances are only found in the South. It is because they were very expensive to build. The cost of the stone required for these columns was extremely high. Also, there was a shortage of skilled masons during this time period. So people built them instead of having porches added onto the house.
Here is a picture of Thomas Jefferson's entrance:
Photo by Paul Franson, Jr. /Getty Images
You can see that it has six ionic columns supporting the porch roof.
The capital of an Ionic column is distinguished by enormous paired spiral scrolls, called volutes. This form of column may be seen all over Capitol Hill, including the United States Capitol, the Supreme Court Building, and the façade of the Longworth House Office Building....
The Ionic order came about as a modification of the Doric order, which was itself a modification of the Corinthian order. The Ionic order is so named because it originated in Athens, where it was developed by Ionians who were exiled there during the 5th century B.C. In its earliest forms, the Ionic order was only slightly different from the Doric order; but over time it became more and more distinct from it. The Doric order had two pairs of columns supporting a gable roof, while the Ionic order had only one pair of columns under each end of the roof.
In terms of function and appearance, the Ionic order is quite similar to the Doric order. Both orders have identical proportions for their columns and they both look good when placed next to each other. But the Ionic order has two differences from the Doric order: first, it has only one center column instead of two; second, it has fluted columns instead of plain ones. These differences make the Ionic order feel more elegant and graceful than the Doric order.
Throughout the fifth century BC, the Ionic order column was used in continental Greece. It was most popular in Ionia during the Archaic Period (750–480 BC). The Ionians were a people who lived in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey) and they became famous for their beautiful poetry and philosophy. The word "Ion" is derived from an ancient Greek term for "eel" because of the way the shaft of these columns appeared to be twisted like an eel's body.
During the Hellenistic period (323 BC - 31 BC), the Doric order column came into use. It was invented by Crescens of Corinth and was initially popular with both Greeks and foreigners. But soon many colonists brought back copies of this style from other countries around the world so it became very popular among city-dwellers. Today Doric columns are found in many public buildings across the United States.
During the Roman Empire (31 BC - AD 395) the Ionic order column came into use again. It was developed further by Athenian architects and dominated the Classical world stage until it was replaced by the Doric order column in Italy during the Renaissance period.
In conclusion, yes, ionic columns are Greek.