Talk:Arch of Constantine

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As the reputed model for the cross section of gothic cathedrals I've given this a top importance rating. It needs some more references but is a good candidate for improvement to GA/FA. --Mcginnly | Natter 01:01, 4 January 2007 (UTC)

This typed in, with minor changes, from "The Remains of Ancient Rome" by J.H. Middleton, pub. A. & C. Black, London and Edinburgh, 1892

Not bad, but how about a full translation of the Latin inscription? Ellsworth 20:32, 16 May 2004 (UTC)

Some observation[edit]

I'm an archaeologist of Rome and I don't write well enough in english to correct the page myself. But I would like someone could do.

  • The arch is a copy of the one of Septimius Severus, not of Trajan.
  • The reliefs on the arch come from monuments of Trajan, Adrian and Marcus Aurelius
  • Since a long time we do not judge anymore the art of late antiquity as poor or as a sign of decadence: simply at that time they had different ideas about what was important to have in a work of art, since the ideas in the society had changed so much too.

MM in

The arch is imited from the one of Septimius Severus, but the sculptured panels come from monuments in the age of Trajan (the two on the central passage and the two on the attic on the short sides), Marcus Aurelius (eight rectangular panels on the logn sides of attics, between Dacians) and Hadrian (the eight round panels over the side passages). The Dacian statues come from Trajan's forum, but not the columns and not the entablature. Sorry, I was not clear enough above. (still MM in 12:22, 6 Feb 2005 (UTC))


Rewrote and expanded the article, especially for a more detailed description of the monument. I'm not quite sure whether my choice of structure was the most fortunate; don't know if maybe a chronological order (i.e. describing all parts from Trajan under one heading, then Hadrian, etc. until Constantine) would be better. I'd like to have at least one generally accessible book in English listed; as I'm not a native speaker, though, I don't know any general works dealing with the subject. If someone knows anything there... Also, most probably the style can be improved here and there... Varana 23:14, 25 Jun 2005 (UTC)


Under "Inner sides of the archways"

Regarding: "In the central archway, there is one large panel of Trajan's Dacian War on each wall". This is commonly asserted on the basis that the panels are from the Great Trajanic Frieze. This is by no means certain. reputable scholars have also concluded that these panels are Domitianic. Given the history of changes in consensus over the past century, and continuing scholarly debate over origins of the artwork, it makes little sense to continue the past practice of reporting these origins as fact, when, in many cases like this one, there is perhaps only a tiny basis for tipping the scales toward a particular conclusion. Why not say something along the lines of "current thinking leans toward Trajan as the source of these panels, although Domitian remains a storng candidate".

This seems particularly relevant given that the General Description includes discussion of the debate over reuse of the entire lower portion of the arch (Conforto -Panella debate), where the balance of evidence (finally) weighs very strongly towar a 4th C origin of the entire structure.

It might also be worth noting on that topic that the marble blocks (including those in the lower arch) vary irregularly in type and color. This, and the poor fit of pre-carved components, e.g. gross discontinuities in entablature decoration, would have been unthinkable on a Hadrianic monument. Compare the Pantheon.

Under "Main section"

Recommendation: Include discussion of the fact that in the final section of the frieze, Constantine appears on a high throne, in frontal view. The similarity to Christian depictions of the throned Christ surrounded by disciples - intentional or coincidental - has been heavily discussed and debated. This hieratic representation of the emperor suggests a new concept of sovereignty and lordship (dominus) - a near deification of the living emperor. I have posted a photo to the linked wikimedia Commons area of a close-up of the relevant scene of the frieze.

I have posted also some photos showing strong evidence of the removal of Commodus from the largito (or liberalitas) attic panel. Damnatio is quite a popular topic, so it might be worth linking to or including a photo.

References: Consider adding references to some of the more significant pieces on attribution of the reliefs and the investigaton of their being recarved, e.g.:

A. L. Frothingham. "Who Built the Arch of Constantine? III." The Attic, American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 19, No. 1. (Jan. - Mar., 1915), pp. 1-12.

Sydney Dean, Editor. Journal of American Archaeology. July-December, 1920. (Archaeological News reports that in Bulletino della Commissione archeologica comunale di Roma, C. Gradara published an excerpt for the diary of Pietro Bracci in which Bracci states that he carved new heads for the emperors and other figures in the attic reliefs, along with new heads and hands for seven of the Dacian captives and one completely new Dacian.)

Inez Scott Ryberg. Panel Reliefs of Marcus Aurelius (Monographs on archaeology and the fine arts, 14) 1967. ASIN: B0006BQ1JW

Eric Varner. Mutilation and Transformation. Damnatio Memoriae and Roman Imperial Portraiture. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2004. ISBN: 90-04-13577-4.

Mark Wilson Jones. "Genesis and Mimesis: The Design of the Arch of Constantine in Rome." The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 59, No. 1. (Mar., 2000), pp. 50-77.

H. Stuart Jones "The Relief Medallions of the Arch of Constantine," Papers of the British School at Rome, Vol. III. MacMillan & Co., 1906. pp. 216-271.

M Bieber. Mitteilungen des Deutshen Archaeologischen Instituts, Roemische Abteilung. 1911, p. 214.

H. P. L'Orange; A. von Gerkan. Der Spatantike Bildschmuck des Konstantinsbogens 1939. ISBN: 3110022494

Bill Storage 08:58, 26 January 2007 (UTC)


"Dedicated in 315, it is the latest of the existing triumphal arches in Rome, from which it differs by spolia, the extensive re-use of parts of earlier buildings."

It can't differ from itself; it must differ from others. Unfree (talk) 08:39, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

Correct; it differs from the other "existing triumphal arches in Rome" by extensively using spolia (i.e. it's the only one doing that). The sentence is a bit awkward, I concur - any suggestions? "It was dedicated in 315 as the last of the extant triumphal arches in Rome. Unlike them, it makes extensive use of spolia, i.e. re-uses parts of earlier buildings." Maybe something like that?
Regards, Varana (talk) 11:58, 14 October 2009 (UTC)


Is it known who built the Arch, or was his(/her?)name lost to time? I'm a novice at this kind of thing.

Thanks. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:34, 23 September 2010 (UTC)


"The arch is 21 m high, 25.9 m wide and 7.4 m deep."

 Uhh, can we get this in English, please?  These figures mean little to me.  —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:59, 7 April 2011 (UTC) 

Dacians→‎Dacian prisoners[edit]

On the top side of the Arch of Constantine, large sculptures representing Dacians can be seen, indicating that Dacians had important ranks and a high esteem in the hierarchy of the empire. Another painted statue representing a Dacian is also found in Boboli. It was brought there from Rome, where it decorated Villa Medici, by the Grand Dukes. The statue represents a Dacian greeting the visitors at the beginning of the alley leading to the top of the hill. In all the sculptures depicting Dacians, they were always portrayed in a very dignified manner and in a proud standing, suggesting that they remained well regarded even after Dacia was defeated by Trajan.[6]

[6]"The Dacians". Wolf Warriors: The Romans, the Dacians, and the Vlachs.

As an archeology student I don't really think that website, cited as source for the bold italicized content is reputable and scientifically sound - it seems replete with wildly speculative pseudohistory in the vein of Romanian/Vlach ultra-nationalism (cf.Protochronism).

This section should be urgently replaced - the statues of Dacian prisoners on the arch of Constantine are reused Trajanic modifications of earlier 'barbarian' statue types, originally representing vanquished Parthians/'Oriental' foes, introduced by Augustus into Roman triumphal iconography (cf.Basilica Aemilia/'Parthian' Arch of Augustus)[1]. Their often described 'tragic pathos' and 'dignified manner' is an idealizing convention of Roman 'classicism' inspired by Hellenistic/Pergamene art (cf.Dying Gaul/Ludovisi Gaul) and evidently isn't in any way linked to Roman appreciation of Dacians/Dacian culture.

[1]R. M. Schneider: Die Faszination des Feindes.Bilder der Parther und des Orients in Rom, in: Josef Wiesehöfer (Hrsg./Ed.), Das Partherreich und seine Zeugnisse/The Arsacid Empire: Sources and Documentation, Steiner, Stuttgart 1998, pp.95-147, 104ff. (talk) 00:16, 13 June 2012 (UTC)