Corinthian
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Corinthian Hall Is Located On The Second Floor
Upon arriving on the second floor, one encounters the Meeting place of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania: Corinthian Hall. The features of this magnificent room, finished in 1903, are in strict conformity with the principles of Grecian classical architecture, and the best known examples of the Greek Corinthian Order. Columns and capitals are modeled after the perfect ones found in the monument of Lysicrates in Athens. The paneled ceiling in the apse at the east end of the room together with the Caryatides supporting it, depict the Portico of the Caryatides of the Erectheum, a building on the Acropolis, in Athens. Seats on the platform in the East are in accordance with those in the ancient Theatre of Dionysus, also in Athens. Various subjects for the bas-relief medallions over the entrance hall and on the pilasters on the north and south walls were taken from ancient Greek coins and medallions. Pictorial representations in the panels on the large frieze running around the four enclosing walls of the room are copies of historical fragments from Greek mythology relating mostly to spiritual life. The general color scheme of the architectural motif, from floor to ceiling, is dull ivory with gold to accentuate all relief and figure details. The large cove and ceiling are treated in shades of deep blue, studded with gold stars. This creates a sky effect above the line of lattice balustrade, and gives an atmosphere of an open hall in an ancient Greek temple.

 

East Wall

On the east wall, the inscription in the frieze below the pediment is "Fiat Lux" (Let there be light). There are five murals, of which the one on the pediment depicts the Rising of the Sun. Hellos, young, beardless and with radiant head, rises from the waves in a chariot drawn by four horses. To the right, the first panel shows Aurora pouring dew upon the Earth. Also known as Eos (Aos), the Dawn, she is clad in a long chiton, or tunic, strewn with stars, and hovers in the air holding the jars whence she pours the dew. In the second panel to the right is Psychotasia, the weighing of souls. Hermes holds the balance of the scales, where the souls of two warriors are seen. Two witnesses stand by: Zeus, on the left, is armed with his thunderbolt and leans on his scepter. Eos, on the right, is the mother of Memnon, who was slain by Achilles while aiding his uncle, Priam, during the Trojan War. Eos, inconsolable, weeps for him every morning, whence also the dew. In the first panel on the left is Apollo, god of the various Fine Arts and reputed originator of Music, Poetry and Eloquence. Apollo is seated on a high tripod that has broad wings bearing him gently over the waves. Dolphins, springing out of the water, accompany him. The god is also called Delphinos. He wears a wreath of laurel; his left hand touches the cithara; and a bow and quiver of arrows are on his shoulder. The voyages of the god upon his tripod are doubtless allusions to the colonies founded by order of the Delphic Oracle. On the second panel to the left is Triptolemus, holding a patera (a broad, flat saucer used for pouring libations) in his right hand and heads of grain in his left. He is seated on a winged chariot from which dart two serpents. In front of him, Proserpine, daughter of Zeus and Demeter, holds a torch in her left hand, and in her right, a wine jug, which she inclines toward the patera of Triptolemus. Behind the chariot is Demeter, goddess of grain, with a torch and some heads of grain in her hand. The hero is preparing to journey through the world and instruct the human race in agriculture.

West Wall

The west wall bears the inscription "Fide et Fiducia" (By Fidelity and Confidence) in the frieze of the cornice. There are three murals on this wall. In the center, Jason and Hercules, with the help of Medea, are attacking the dragon. A tree is in the center of the scene, dividing it into two equal parts. Upon the branches is suspended the Golden Fleece. Above the trunk is coiled the dragon which guards it. Jason, on the left, and Hercules, on the right, are preparing to strike the monster, one with a lance, the other with a club. Behind the heroes, and ready for combat, are three of the Argonauts, their companions. In the upper division of the panel on the left, the winged Calais (another Argonaut), son of Boreas ("north wind") and the nymph Oreithyia, come to take part in the combat. To the right, Medea, clothed in splendid Asiatic garments, aids the combatants by her magic power. In her left hand she holds a casket. With her right, she is preparing to throw some leaves on the dragon. Behind her, and corresponding to the figure of Calais, is a winged Love. He is sitting on a rock holding a mirror in his left hand. In the right panel is Orestes (who, with sister Electra's help, had killed their mother, Clytemnestra, to avenge his father, whom she had killed) in shelter at Delphi and protected by Apollo. Orestes is seated on the altar of Apollo, who stands beside him holding over his head a pig, the expiatory victim. Artemis, Apollo's sister, stands in front of Orestes. In the left panel Eumolpus, seated with a scepter in his hand, a swan at his side, is an allusion to the King's name. Amphitrite, a goddess of the sea, has a fish in her right hand. Dionysus (or Bacchus, god of wine) is holding a vine-stock as a scepter.

Medallions over doors and on pedestals on either side of the niche were taken from antique coins and medallions. Above the door to the left, looking toward the west wall: center, taken from a bronze coin, are the eight Phoenician Kabeiroi. Left, from a bronze coin of Ephesus, is the effigy of Marcus Aurelius. Lucius Verus and Marcus Aurelius stand at the lighted altar before the statue of Artemis of Ephesus. Right, from a coin of Ariathes, is the Baal of Gazioura. Seated, his left hand resting on a scepter, he holds an eagle in his right hand. Above the door to the right: center, from a bronze medallion, is the Temple of Zeus at Pergamos. Under the portico is Zeus, before him is a priest holding a patera, about to sacrifice a bull. Left, from a coin of Chios, Dionysus, crowned with ivy, stands holding a thyrsus (a staff or spear tipped with an ornament). Right, from a gold coin of Alexander, is a winged Victory; in a field is a thunderbolt, also a letter, which is a mint mark. On the pedestal to the right: from an Athenian coin, A.O.E., the names of magistrates. The owl is a symbol of wisdom; the lion of strength.

South Wall

On the south wall, in the frieze on the cornice, is the inscription "Labore et Honore" (By Labor and Honor). In the center panel is a depiction of the birth of Pallas Athena. Zeus, thunderbolt and scepter in hand, is seated on a throne. Hephaestus (or Vulcan, the god of fire and patron of workmen) has cleft the skull of the god and Pallas Athena is springing, full-armed, into the light of day. On each side of Zeus are the divinities usually associated with Pallas. To the right, before her, is Ilithyia, who presides over birth; as well as Hercules, the most famous of Greek heroes, celebrated for his strength and courage; and Ares (Mars) the god of war. To the left are first, Apollo, playing the seven-stringed lyre; Poseidon, god of the sea, fountains and rivers; Hera, wife of Zeus; and Hephaestus (who flees in alarm). Behind Hera, a bird of augury is in the air. On the first panel to the right, looking toward the south wall is the ancient Scheme to Sacrifice. Nike, the goddess of victory and success, pours wine for libation into a cup. At the right, are two assistants, each carrying a wand. A flute player is last. The inscription above him indicates that he will share in the sacred repast. In the second panel to the right is the Judgement of Paris, who was the son of Priam. Paris has awarded the apple to Helen of Troy as the most beautiful woman. She is seated on a throne and is attended by a winged Victory. To the right stands Hermes (Mercury), the messenger of the gods. In the first panel on the left are Odysseus (Ulysses) and the Sirens. Odysseus is standing tied to the mast of his vessel, while his companions, urged by the helmsman, are rowing. Three Sirens, in the form of birds with women's heads, seek to attract them. On the second panel is Greece personified by Hellas, who stands between Zeus and Pallas Athena and is attended by a Victory. Zeus is on the throne. The medallions on the pilaster supporting the center panel were taken from coins and a carved stone. The first (top), from a silver coin from Corinth, is a bridled Pegasus, flying beneath the kappa, the initial letter, in Greek, of Corinth. The second, taken from a Corinthian coin, shows the hero Isthmos, the personified isthmus, holding a rudder in each hand. The third, also from a Corinthian coin, is the round temple of Polaimon, the cupola of which, adorned with dolphins that form the akroteria, is supported by six columns. Before the temple is a bull about to be sacrificed and a tree. On the fourth, from an engraved stone, are the laws of Triptolemus.

North Wall

On the north wall, the inscription in the frieze on the cornice, is "Nil sine Numine" (Nothing without Divine Will). There are five murals on this wall. In the center panel, Perseus, son of Zeus and Danae, is in combat with the Amazons. In the first panel to the right, looking toward the north wall, Archemoros lies in state. In the center, lying on a state bed, wrapped in a shroud is the young Archemoros, who was killed by a dragon. At the side of the body, an old woman is about to lay a wreath upon his head. At right, his teacher approaches, holding a lyre. The second panel on the right depicts Ajax, the son of Telamon and Periboea, hero of the Trojan War taking leave of his parents. In the center are Ajax and Telamon, the latter with a bowed head and resting on a staff. In the first panel to the left is a nuptial scene. A girl with a lily, symbol of purity in one hand, and a tympanon (drum) in the other, is leading the young couple to their new home. A satyr, carrying a candelabrum and torch, ends the procession. The second panel to the right contains Dionysus, Comus (merriment) and Melpomene (the Muse of tragedy). Dionysus, seated, holds the thyrsus in his left hand. In the other, he has a cantharus, or wine jug, which he inclines toward the young Comus, who is leaning with both arms on the knees of the god.

Oomus is about to drink, while Ariadne, who helped Theseus escape the Minotaur in the Labyrinth, standing behind him, fills the vessel. Behind Dionysus is Melpomene, who holds the thyrsus in her right hand, and in her left, a hare, which she is about to present to the boy Comus. Medallions on the pilaster supporting the center panel were taken from coins, a medallion and a plaque. The first (on top), from a silver coin of Knossos, is the Labyrinth of Crete in the form of a cross, ornamented with a star in the center. The second, from a bronze coin, is the Temple of Artemis (or Diana, goddess of the hunt and protectress of maidens) at Ephesus. The statue of the goddess is under a temple. The third, taken from a bronze medallion, is a Dionysian procession. Dionysus, holding a thyrus ornamented with fillets (headbands) is seated upon a chariot drawn by a panther and a goat. Eros (Amor) is riding on the goat. The fourth, from a plaque of silver-gilt found at Galoxidi in Locris, is a depiction of the birth of Venus (or Aphrodite, goddess of beauty, mother of Eros). She is naked, her head and arms thrown back, her hair is disarray and dripping; and she holds a peplos (a lose outer robe), with which she seems to cover herself.

Corinthian Hall is 106 feet long, fifty-three feet wide and fifty-two feet high.


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