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The Arch of Constantine (by Harrison)

Who built it and Why

  • Erected by Senate in 312
  • Dedicated to Emperor Constantine after his victory against Emperor Maxentius at the Battle of
  • Milvian Bridge in 312
  • Repaired in 18th C.
  • Restored for final time in 1990

Purpose and How it was made

  • The Arch spans the Via Triumphalis – the road from Palestine Hill to the Coliseum
  • Emperors would travel this route after a military victory
  • The arch is 21 m high, 25.9 m wide and 7.4 m deep.
  • three archways:
  • central one being 11.5 m high and 6.5 m wide
  • smaller lateral archways 7.4 m by 3.4 m each
  • Made with brick, and riveted in marble
  • Senate built it to commemorate Emperor Constantine
  • Original brickwork and marble was constructed, then other architectural, and sculptural features
  • were taken from existing monuments and placed on the Arch

Imporant features:

  • Features depictions of war and Roman legends – including Hadrian hunting Lions
  • Features Hellenistic aspects
  • Corinthian Columns
  • Intricate & complex designs
  • Great detail
  • Primarily focuses on glorifying Roman military victories

Main Section

  • The spandrels of the main archway are decorated with reliefs depicting victory figures with
  • trophies
  • Separated by Corinthian style columns, with statues of Emperor Corinthius on top of them
  • Smaller archways depicts scenes of gods
  • Circular-framed scenes depicting hunting and sacrifice
  • Main piece is under the circular freezes, and depicts Emperor Constantine’s campaign against
  • Maxentius

Inscription:

IMP · CAES · FL · CONSTANTINO · MAXIMO · P · F · AVGUSTO · S · P · Q · R · QVOD · INSTINCTV ·
DIVINITATIS · MENTIS · MAGNITVDINE · CVM · EXERCITV · SVO · TAM · DE · TYRANNO · QVAM · DE ·
OMNI · EIVS · FACTIONE · VNO · TEMPORE · IVSTIS · REM-PVBLICAM · VLTVS · EST · ARMIS · ARCVM ·
TRIVMPHIS · INSIGNEM · DICAVIT

To the Emperor Caesar Flavius Constantinus, the greatest, pious, and blessed Augustus: because he,
inspired by the divine, and by the greatness of his mind, has delivered the state from the tyrant and all of
his followers at the same time, with his army and just force of arms, the Senate and People of Rome have
dedicated this arch, decorated with triumphs.

Significance:

  • Considered to be one of Rome’s great architectural pieces
  • Gives knowledge of time period
  • Wide array of images, scenes depicted
  • Shows Empire propaganda in the glorification of Costantinus in his military victory
  • Uses various styles
  • Design has been the inspiration for many similar arch’s
  • Used in 1960 Olympics as the marathon finish line
  • Considered one of Rome’s most illustrious buildings

 

Works Cited

“Arch of Constantine.” – Smarthistory. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Aug. 2012. <http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/arch-of-constantine.html&gt;.

“Triumphal Arches of Titus, Septimius Severus, and Constantine.” Arch of Constantine. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Aug. 2012. <http://web.mit.edu/course/21/21h.405/www/ArchesOfTitus/constantine-art.html&gt;.

“Arch of Constantine.” Arch of Constantine. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Aug. 2012. <http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/romanurbs/archconstantine.html&gt;.

Brommer, Gerald F. Discovering Art History 3rd Ed. Worcester Davis Publicant Inc. 1997

Thompson, Nanny L. “Roman Art“ New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2007

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