Olympieum.  Athens, late 6th century BC to 130 AD.

        The Corinthian temple came to embody Hellenistic splendor.  The Corinthian column first appeared in the Hellenic period, probably as a decorative feature. Taller and more ornamented than either the Doric or Ionic column, the Corinthian order was preferred for the grandiose temples erected for Hellenistic kings, as manifestation of their earthly majesty and the authority of whatever deity with whom they claimed kinship.

        Commissioned by the Seleucid king Antiochus IV, the Olympieum expressed his idea of a diverse, international culture united under Zeus, his divine counterpart and the lord of Mount Olympus.  This temple was constructed during three distinct historical eras.  The stylobate, or base, was laid in the late Archaic Age, but then abandoned.  The Corinthian columns were raised by Antiochus IV about 175 BC, but again work was postponed indefinitely.  The temple was finally completed in AD 130 under the Roman emperor Hadrian, a great admirer of Greek culture.

    Only 13 of the columns now remain; this extraordinary monumental structure boasted double rows of 20 columns each on the sides and triple rows of eight on the ends.