In the strictest sense, this is a term used to characterize the art, literature, and aesthetics created by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Broadly speaking, the term classical may be used to characterize any style or period of creative work distinguished by qualities that are mainly suggestive of, or derived from, classical Greek or Roman art, literature, and aesthetics. Chief among these qualities are a sense of conscious restraint in the handling of themes and a sense of rational ordering and proportioning of forms. In architecture, the classical orders are the three Greek orders—the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian—and the two Roman additions to them—the Composite and the Tuscan.

    In an even broader sense, the term classical may be applied to all art and music, to a specific historical period in art and music (about 1750 to 1820), to historically significant systems of thought, and to traditional concepts of form. Thus, the three laws of motion formulated by the English mathematician, physicist, and astronomer Sir Isaac Newton are part of a classical system of celestial mechanics, and a ballet presented in a traditional mode is characterized as a classical ballet.

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