Arc of Constantin
The Arc of Constantin is a Triumphal arch in Rome, located between the Colisée and the Palatin. It was built to commemorate the victory of Constantin to the Pont of Milvius against Maxence the October 28th 312. Inaugurated in 315, it is the last of the series of the triumphal arches in Rome, in which it is characterized by its systematic use of re-employments ( Spolia ) former monuments.
The arc is 21,10 m high, 25,7 m broad and 7,4 m of depth. It has three bays: the central bay is largest, with 11,5 m in height for 6,5 m broad, while the side passages are 7,4 m high for 3,4 m broad. The lower part of the monument is built blocks of marble, while the upper part, the Attique, is in covered brick masonry of a marble plating. A staircase is arranged in the thickness of the arc, which one reaches by a door located in height on the side located on the side of the Palatine one. The general design of the monument with a central part structured by four free columns (and not committed as on much of arcs), and an attic comprising in the center a monumental inscription is inspired by the model of the Arc of Septime Sévère on the Forum romanum. Certain authors suggested that the lower part of the building went up in fact with a former monument, probably of the time of Hadrian rather than to the construction of the 4th century.
The arc overlaps the Via Triumphalis , the road taken by the emperors when they enter the city to celebrate to them Triomphe. The route of this road starts with the Champ de Mars, led to the Cirque Maxime and makes the turn of the Palatin. Immediately after having crossed the Arc of Constantin, the triumphal procession turns towards the left and follows the Via Sacra to the Romanum Forum, then with the Capitole, by crossing at the same time the Arc of Titus and the Arc of Septime Sévère.
With the Middle Ages, the Arc of Constantin is built-in one of the family fortresses of Rome. Work of restoration is undertaken for the first time in the years 1990.
Such as it is currently preserved, and in spite of the modern and contemporary restorations, the decoration of the arc differs much from its initial state: disappeared as well the sculptor group which crowned it, and which perhaps represented Constantin on a quadriga, that the major part of coloured stone platings covering the frontage - there remain about it only fragments of porphyry on the northern face. The principal element of destroyed carved decoration is the plank which was to run all around the monument, symmetrically with the plank constantinienne, the top of the median part, just below the cornice of the attic. It is supposed that this plank comprised it also a narrative cycle on the conquest of the capacity by Constantin.
The decoration of the arc massively employs again fragments of older monuments, which acquire a new significance in the context of the building constantinien. On this memorial of the victory of Constantin, the new historiée plank representing its countryside of Italy constitutes the significant reason most important: it celebrates the emperor, at the same time in his military and civil functions.
Other iconographic reasons reinforce this program: the elements of decoration (low-relief, statues) taken on the monuments of the imperial Golden age, under Trajan, Hadrian and Marc-Aurèle, and employed again on the arc, locate Constantin in the line of these model emperors. They evoke the image of the pious and victorious leader.
The use of these re-employments is also explained by the speed of construction of the arc, is started at the end of 312, and is as soon as possible completed for the inauguration at the summer 315: it is fault of the time necessary to make carve new reliefs which the architects would have re-used of the existing parts. One calls upon also sometimes a third explanation, the technical incapacity of the Roman workshops of sculpture of the 4th century to produce works of a quality comparable with those of the 2nd century: the plundering of the former monuments would constitute the implicit consent of this technical and artistic inferiority at the same time as the admiring recognition of works of the previous time. This interpretation however hardly is retained, because of the revaluation of the esthetics which dominates the art of late Antiquity: one generally also admits, which is shown by certain works, in particular in the minor arts (as the sculpture on ivory) that the craftsmen of this time had average the techniques to approach if not to equalize the classicism of their predecessors. An important argument in favor of this revaluation is the quality of the portraits of Constantin and of Constancy Chlorinates or Licinius recut starting from the portraits of emperors of the second century, as well on the tondi of the time of Hadrian as on the large panels of the reign of Trajan or that of Marc-Aurèle.
These various explanations are not exclusive one of the other and can each one contribute to give an account of the re-employments in this monument. This practice is in addition of nothing exceptional at the time, since many monuments raised under the reign of Constantin also largely call upon re-employments: it is the case for example first Basilique Saint-Pierre of Rome or of many monuments of the new imperial capital, Constantinople.
Above central bay, the principal inscription (see below) occupies the principal place of the attic. It is identical on the two frontages of the arc. On each side of this inscription, overhanging two secondary bays, a pair of panels of low-reliefs is - there is thus eight of them on the whole on the arc. They come from a monument not identified set up in honor of Marc-Aurèle, and represent:
- On the northern face, from left to right, respectively:
- the entry of the emperor (topic of the imperial Adventus ) in the town of Rome after the countryside;
- the emperor leaving the city and greeted by a personification of the Via Flaminia;
- the emperor distributing of the money to the people (the largitio );
- the emperor questioning a German prisoner.
- On the southern face, from left to right, respectively:
- a captive enemy chief brought in front of the emperor;
- Of other captive enemies introduced to the emperor;
- the emperor addressing himself to the troops (the adlocutio );
- the emperor sacrificing a pig, a sheep and a bull. (scene de" suovétorile")
It is at the same time that also the two large panels belong (they are 3 meters high) which decorate the small sides of the attic and representative of the scenes of the wars of Dacie. They come, just as the two low-reliefs located on the walls of the central passage, of a large plank celebrating the victory over Daces. It was to be in the beginning on the Forum of Trajan or in the barracks of the cavalry on the Caelius. The figures of Trajan on these panels were worked over again in the same way that those of Hadrian on the medallions, to adapt them to the new emperor.
Principal part (piles and entablature)
The general structure of the principal frontage is identical on the two faces of the arc. It is divided by four Corinthian columns free, out of yellow marble of Numidie ( giallo antico ). One of them was transferred to be used with the Basilique Midsummer's Day of Lateran and replaced by a white marble column. The bases of the columns are decorated, face, by victories, and on the sides by cruel prisoners and Roman soldiers.
The corner pieces of the central arc are decorated with reliefs of Victoire carrying a trophy, while those of the secondary arcs present personifications of rivers. The reliefs of the corner pieces, like those of the bases of the columns, date from the time constantinienne.
The tondi of Hadrian
Above each side bay, are circular pairs of reliefs going up at the time of Hadrian: the monument of origin of these sculptures is not known, but one supposes that it celebrated hunting, one of the favorite activities of the emperor. On the tondi are reproduced indeed of the scenes of alternate hunting and sacrifice.
- On the northern face, it acts respectively from left to right:
- a hunting for wild boar;
- a sacrifice with Apollon;
- a hunting for the lion;
- a sacrifice with Hercules.
- On the southern face, the medallions represent respectively from left to right:
- the departure with hunting;
- a sacrifice with Silvanus
- a hunting for the bear;
- a sacrifice with Diane.
The reliefs, which measure approximately 2 m in diameter, were framed of porphyry: one finds it only on the northern side of the building. Comparable medallions, but from time constantinienne this time, were placed on the small sides of the arc: they represent the carriages of the Rising sun on the east coast, and of the Moon on the west coast.
The plank constantinienne
The contemporary principal low-relief of the construction of the arc is the plank with historical reason which spreads all around the monument in lower part of the medallions, at a rate of a band above each secondary arc and on the small sides of the arc. It represents episodes of the Italian countryside of Constantin against Maxence, because which one carried out the construction of the monument. The plank starts on the west coast with the scene of the departure of Milan, continues southern part (which looks towards outside) with the seat of a city, probably Vérone, which played a great part in the war in Italy of north. It is on this frontage also that is represented the battle of the bridge of Milvius, with the victorious army of Constantin and the enemy drowning in the the Tiber. On the side monument is , the plank shows Constantin and his army to enter to Rome. It is notable that the artist avoided in this case the use of the iconography of the triumph, probably because Constantin did not wish to appear triumphing over Rome. Northern side, which faces the city, two bands represent the acts of the emperor after the catch of Rome: Constantin addresses to the citizens on the Forum romanum, and proceeds to a distribution of money.
Style of the reliefs of time constantinienne
Side reliefs in the passagesIn the central passage is on each wall one of the large panels of the war of Trajan against Daces. In the side passages eight busts (two per wall) were placed which were damaged at the point not to be identifiable more.
The principal inscription had at the origin being in bronze letters. It is still readable easily because of the cavities in which these letters and of the clamp holes were fixed which remain. The text is the same one on the two frontages and is read as follows:
IMP · CAES · FL · CONSTANTINO · MAXIMO · P · F · AVGUSTO · S · P · Q · R · QVOD · INSTINCTV · DIVINITATIS · LIED · MAGNITVDINE · CVM · EXERCITV · SVO · TAM · OF · TYRANNO · QVAM · OF · OMNI · EIVS · FACTIONE · VNO · IN TIME · IVSTIS · REM-PUBLICAM · VLTVS · EAST · ARMIS · ARCVM · TRIVMPHIS · INSIGNEM · DICAVIT
With the piles and happy emperor César Flavius Constantin the Large one, Auguste, because, under the inspiration of the divinity ( instinctu divinitatis ) and by size of spirit, with its army and for right weapons, in only one decisive blow, he avenged the State on the tyrant and all his faction, the Senate and the Roman people dedicate this arc as a sign of sound triomphe.
The words instinctu divinitatis (“under the inspiration of the divinity”) were the subject of many comments. One in general sees there the sign of the change of religious affiliation of Constantin: the Christian tradition, in particular Lactance and Eusèbe de Césarée, reports that Constantin would have had a vision of the god of the Christians during the countryside, and that it was victorious with the Milvius Bridge thanks to the sign of the cross which it had made register on the shields of its army. But although Constantin started to actively support the Church starting from 312, the symbol of God Sun, Sol Invictus , continuous to be reproduced in good place on the official documents of its reign - in particular currencies - until in 324. The rather vague formulation of the inscription on the arc, in this context, can be voluntarily interpreted in different way, according to the readers, and satisfy thus at the same time the pagan ones and the Christians.
As it is of habit, the overcome enemy is not mentioned by name in the inscription, but only by one indirect reference to the “tyrant”, according to a terminology which, with the image of a “war right”, justifies the assassination of an illegitimate leader, and thus the civil war started by Constantin against his Maxence colleague.
The same message is repeated by two short inscriptions located on the interior walls of the central passage:
LIBERATORI VRBIS (liberator of the city) - FUNDATORI QVIETIS (founder of peace)
Constantin presents himself thus as a liberator and not while conquering. He delivered the City of the occupation and restored peace.
Above secondary bays, other short inscriptions are read as follows:
VOTIS X - VOTIS XX - SIC X - SIC XXTranslation:
Vœux solemn for the 10th birthday - for the 20th birthday - just as for 10th, in the same way for the 20th anniversaire.
They make it possible to date the triumphal arch from the decennalia of Constantin, namely of the tenth birthday of its reign, counted starting from 306, that it celebrates in Rome at the time of the summer 315. It is natural to suppose that the arc is inaugurated during this stay in the city.
|Random links:||Ásbyrgi | Transatlantic liner | List publications by editors - Association - C | Frederic de Lafresnaye | Bardineto | Smith_irritable|