The Geometric Origin of the Ancient Greek Canon of Human Proportions: A Study of the Desiderian Canon


Lance Harding came from Utah to London to study at The Prince’s School. He explains, “Vitruvius wrote that the ancient Greeks built their temples according to the measurement of the ideal man. By learning the simple and basic proportions of geometry, as every student does at The School, it is possible to understand the archetypal forms of creation. A representation of archetypal man created in the image of God, ideal ‘Man in the Circle and Square’, is also an image of the cosmos, representing man as the mediator between heaven and earth. The purpose of this thesis is to demonstrate that the ancient Archaic Greek canon of human proportion was originally derived from a ‘System of Geometry’, which determined proportions, grids, and units of measurement. Archaic Greek Kouroi from the 6th century BC, the geometry of the Desiderian Canon, the geometry and units of measurement recorded by the Roman Architect, Vitruvius, and other canons of proportion from Christian Byzantine art, are compared to determine how the proportional anthropometry of the human figure related to a geometric system that was idealised to give optimum modular units of measurement. The aim of this thesis is to establish that indeed Geometry was the key to the ‘Proportional Canon’ of the ancient Archaic Greeks.”