(AN EXTRACT FROM “SHORT TALKS ON THE FELLOWCRAFT DEGREE”)                                 
By: Carlos Antonio Martinez, Jr., 32º, P:.M:.K:.

In Architecture, the term Order is given to the form and particular design of pillars (columns). The ancient Greeks, fore-tutors of Free-Masonry in many concepts and respects, built their temples and great public edifices in such a way that the parts requiring sustainment were supported by a series of pillars situated in both the exterior and interior of these buildings. The Masters of this art designed diverse forms or orders of architecture devising dimensions and decorations that were proportional to the magnitude, shape, refinement and elegance desired for such monumental works.

These designs or orders are: Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite. The difference that distinguishes them from one another comes from the dimensions, shape and decorations of the pillar and the entablature which comprise the architrave, frieze and cornice. The Greeks did not know other orders aside from Doric, Ionic and Corinthian, styles whose names derived from the towns where these invention were developed. The Roman architects eventually adopted them, but not without adding a fourth order: the Composite or Roman; And so did the Etruscans have a their particular order, which was also taken by the Romans and which they renamed Tuscan.

The Doric Order, however much we insist on calling it so, originated in Egypt, from where it was taken by the Dorians, as it is so eloquently attested - still in our days - by a considerable number of well known monuments of that era.

The Ionic Order, more elegant and delicate than the Doric, is composed of three parts: the Pedestal or Base, the Fust or Shaft and the Capital, shaped as a Volute. This style of Architecture was first noticed approximately in the year 500 A.D., and from that moment on it enjoyed much preference among the Ionians, from whom it took its name, and just as is the case with the Doric Order, this architectonic style is also native of Egypt.

The Corinthian, beautiful, rich, and more delicate than its two predecessors, was invented – as insisted by a number of historians – by Callimachus, and executed for the first time in Corinth, one of the most important cities of the Peloponnese.

The Composite Order (a.k.a.: Roman) does/did not differ much from the Corinthian, except for the disposition of the volutes of its capitals.

The Tuscan Order is the most ancient and most robust of all, and it is believed that it originated in Tuscany. This pillar, alone and without any architrave, is the most appropriate to perpetuate the glory of all great men and women.

Pillars or Columns, at the same time, are conformed by five parts that can also portray the human body. The Base of the column represents the Soul, which is the essence and support of the being; The Socle or Zocle represents the astral or ethereal body designated by modern Parapsychology with the name of “Organizing Biological Model”; The Fust or Shaft represents the physical body; The Capital represents the personality of the individual, for it is in the capital where all the characteristics of each architectonical order are found; And the Architrave symbolizes the Love of every human being, for it is by way of the architrave that a pillar is joint with the others and becomes part of the structure of the edifice.

Free-Masonry allocates a supreme importance to the study of the Human Soul, and, consequently,  a great deal of the symbolism of our Order revolves around said study.

Therefore it is of utmost importance to persevere in the study of symbols and their role throughout the history of humanity. And for this reason, it is imperative to learn about the historical and symbolic significance of the Five Orders of Architecture which, as already mentioned, are: Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite. These unique figures, when and if deliberately displayed in a sequential group, can let us appreciate how – starting with the Tuscan Order – each one that follows is more beautiful, more artistic and more elaborate than the anterior.

Thus have been the successive epochs of the history of humanity, starting with primitive times, when man lived a bestial standard of life. The struggle for survival and the triumph over fear and superstition during the course of thousands of years walking the earth, conducted man and woman through Antiquity, the Middle Ages, Modern Times and brought them to the contemporaneous age.

Continuing on, pillars can also depict the evolution of human life which begins (of course) in Infancy, later becoming Adolescence which turns into Juvenility, Adulthood, and, lastly, the Third Age – a gradual development where, just like shown in the afore-mentioned display of columns, each stage is lovelier than the preceding.

Columns can also be distinguished by their capacity to sustain the mental edifice that crowns them, thus demonstrating a constant evolution, until reaching a limit where they cannot surpass without destroying the laws and rules of harmony and beauty.

The Tuscan and Doric Orders, the two more simple and solid, show the rudimentary intelligence based on the perception and memory of the same that man has in common with animals. The Ionic indicates the concrete concepts elaborated on the first two. The Corinthian and Composite expose the general and abstract ideas that come from more particular and concrete concepts, expressing respectively Imagination, Judgment and Comprehension.
The study of the Five Architectonic Orders, is essential, not only to comprehend history and evolution through Architecture and its different designs, but to learn about the Men and Women who engraved their knowledge and wisdom in all and each one of these pillars, about which I have scarcely written about, endeavored to comment not only on their historical relevance, but also on their symbolic significance, which, to the Order, is the pure representation of the Union and Fraternity that must prevail in each one of us, Free-Masons, since columns are the only parts of the edifice that not only support it, but have contact between each other; Proving thus that a single pillar cannot sustain such an erection, unless being inter-connected with one or more, thus again serving as an example and charge prompting us to be not only pillars of our personal Gnostic temple, but columns of the collective sanctuary that – day after day - we, Free-Masons, should endeavor to build to the glory of Human Self-Amelioration and, if your religiosity and/or spiritualism demand(s), to the glory of the Great Architects Of The Universe.