The arch of constantine Rome Italy




The arch of constantine Rome Italy


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The arch of constantine Rome Italy


This arch was built by Senate decree to commemorate Constantine’s victory over Maxentius in 312-5 AD.

It is 21m high, 25.7 wide, 7.4 m deep.  The central archway is 11.5m high and the side archways are 7.4m high.

This arch stands near the west side of the Colosseum at the start of a road that leads to the Circus Maximus.  It has three arches with two smaller arches flanking a large central one.  Along the broad sides of the arch there is a façade of four columns on engaged bases and of principal interest on the arch is the wealth of sculptural decoration taken from other earlier monuments.

In the centre of the attic on the north and south sides a long inscription says that the Arch was dedicated to Constantine by the Senate and people of Rome after his victory over the ‘tyrant’ (probably the Emperor Maxentius).  Over the side arches are briefer inscriptions relating to the tenth anniversary of Constantine rule in 315 AD. 

From the                   - standing over each of the columns are eight statues representing Dacian captives.
time of                        - one has been completely restored, while the others have had their heads and hands repaired.  They wear a felt hat, have
Trajan                        shaggy beards and long trousers; all signs of barbarians.
- in the main arch interior are four large relief panels which were originally part of a continuous battle frieze taken from Trajan’s Forum.
- two are on the inner sides of the central archway,
- the other two are at the top of the east and west faces of the arch.

From the                   - eight medallions set in pairs over the side arches of the north and south sides.
time of                       - they commemorate Hadrian’s love of hunting and his devotion to the gods associated with it.
Hadrian                     - the north side shows              - a boar hunt, a sacrifice to Apollo, a lion hunt, a sacrifice to Hercules.
- the south side shows             - a scene of the hunting party preparing to set out, a sacrifice to Silvanus, a bear hunt, a sacrifice to Diana.
- four roundels (leaving for the hunt, a boar hunt, a bear huntm a lion hunt) represent the quality of
virtus or courage, determination, manliness, endurance, violence,physical fitness.
- the other four roundels (sacrifices to Silvanus, Diana, Apollo, Hercules) represent the quality of
pietas  or displaying the proper respect to the gods.
- some of the heads have been replaced with those of Constantine and his eastern co-ruler,
- the mood is serene, e.g.: the attendants seem unconcerned at Constantine killing the boar.

From the                   - in between the Dacian prisoners and over the side arches are eight rectangular relief panels.
time of                       - they commemorate Marcus Aurelius’s victories in Germany and eastern Europe.
Marcus                      - the Emperor’s heads in these panels are 18th century restorations.
Aurelius                    - on the northern face               - the Emperor is shown entering Rome,
- he is then shown leaving the city in the next panel,
- Constantine is then seen disturbing money to the people,
- finally in the far right panel a barbarian chief surrenders to him .
- on the southern face               - another barbarian chief surrenders,
- prisoners are shown being led to the Emperor,
- in the next panel Trajan is seen addressing his troops,
- in the last panel Constantine conducts a sacrifice with them.

From the                   - in the spandrels above the arches are reliefs of winged Victories, Seasons and River gods.             
time of                       - the engaged-column bases have upright Victories on the front & barbarians captives on the side.
Constantine              - two medallions on the east and west faces show the personification of the sun rising on the east in its chariot and on the other side the personification of the moon is setting in its chariots.
- the long narrow friezes above the side arches and on the east and west faces at the same level.  These are taken to represent the episodes in Constantine’s life that led to his victory over Maxentius.                  - on the north Constantine addresses his people (Oratio) in the Roman forum and
distributes money to them (donation)
- on the east Constantine enters Rome victorious.
- the south is probably the siege of Verona and the battle of the Milvian bridge near Rome where Maxentius died,
- the west side may be Constantine leaving Milan,
- the few reliefs made for the monument are recognisable for their hasty workmanship, stiff formality and lack of workmanship.

Reasons for             - to return to the image of a ‘Golden Age’ of Rome.
taking/borrowing    - display general ideas about Constantine’s character and exploits.
(‘cannibalising’)      - show him using traditional Roman art motifs.
other relief               - to remind Constatnine about the virtues of traditional Roman religion.
carving                      -to link him with the previous ‘great’ Emperors.
- displays to the public Constantine’s qualities of pietas and virtus.
- to compensate for a lack of skilled sculptors?
- some heads (particularly Hadrian’s) have been re-cut to represent Constantine and some have a nimbus or ring of splendour cut around them.

Harmony is              - depth of arch (7.4m) is the same as the height of the smaller arches.
achieved by             - above the small arches, the extra inscriptions and decoration equals the height of the main arch
- the vault of the main arch begins at the same level as the top of the side arches.
- the curves of the roundels echo the curve of the archways.
- the horizontal is stress by the lines of the entablature, rectangular panels, and the column bases.

‘Oratio’ as an           - shows a damaged Constantine in the middle of a group of senators and officials.
example of               - on either side of the ground level are a group of Roman citizens wearing tunics with another row
Constantinean        of heads behind them to indicate depth.                 
art                               - some are talking among themselves and others are children.
- Emperor is central, raised above the others and the centre of attention.
- drapery is rudimentary and not revealing of the body beneath with deep straight lines instead of curves.


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