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The Arch of ConstantineBy Antonio Parente
The arch itself references a dedication to the emperor Constantine the Great and his victory of the tyrant emperors Maxentius and Licinius. This implies that construction would have started some time in the early 300s upon his victory. However, scholars have developed theories that may disprove this implication. One such theory states that the arch was started by Maxentius upon one of his major victories and later redesigned (at least partially) by Constantine. Another theory states that the arch was started by the Emperor Domitian some 200 years prior. No matter who started the construction, it is clear who the arch was dedicated for when taking a closer look at the inscription.
"To the emperor Flavius Constantine the Great
Designed in the Corinthian order style which is the last developed of the three principal forms of architecture (Doric and Ionic being the other two) the arch stands some 70-feet tall with its three bays, the arch is an imposing structure, perhaps representing the same imposing figure that was the Roman Empire. Corinthian order is the most ornate of these three styles, which is evident when looking at the Arch of Constantine. Separating the three arches are four Corinthian columns with decorative capitals for their tops. The Corinthian columns were first developed in ancient Greece and later adopted by the Romans due to their slender and ornate style which is highlighted by the flutes and decorative capitals. Above the arches, decorative carvings can be seen. These carvings depict scenes and add to the ornate style of the Corinthian order. Standing above the carvings stand sculptures of soldiers. Many of these sculptures were reused works of art from other periods in Roman history including from the Forum of Emperor Trajan, a triumphal arch dedicated to Emperor Marcus Aurelius, and a monument dedicated to Emperor Hadrian. The common theme was to take from parts of history that were perceived as successful. This also said a great deal about Emperor Constantine and what type of Rome he wanted to see succeed. The message was that he wanted to see the glory of old become the steppingstones for the glory of the future of the great empire.
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