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Arch of Constantine, Rome

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Arch of Constantine, Rome

There is a lot that can be learned from architecture from our past. Every structure had its own purpose and story of its origin. The battle at the Milvian Bridge in 312 CE was the breaking point in Constantine's quest for power. He had been proclaimed Augustus by the troops in Britain in 306 CE, after the death of his father in York, and even though he had no legal right to that title, he refused to relinquish it. Maxentius also claimed the title of Augustus of the western empire. The conflict finally resulted in the battle of the Milvian Bridge just North of Rome, when Constantine's army defeated the numerically superior, but less experienced troops of Maxentius. Maxentius fell to his death while trying to flee across the Tiber River, as a temporary bridge made of boats collapsed under him and his troops.

Constantine entered Rome victorious, and because of this victory the senate awarded him a triumphal arch. “Construction began immediately, and the arch was finished in a few years, to be consecrated in 315/316 CE on the tenth anniversary of Constantine's rise to power.” During that time, arches were built to either celebrate a triumph or in memorial of someone in power. The arch is said to be one of the greatest inventions of Roman architecture. The largest and best preserved of Rome's triumphal arches, "Arch of Constantine", which is generally referred to as the most flamboyant because of its use of colored stone, was raised to celebrate Constantine's victory over his co-emperor Maxentius, in 312AD.

The arch of Constantine is located in the valley of the Colosseum, and stands near the west side of the Colosseum , at the start of the road that leads south between Palatine and Caelian Hills to the Circus Maximus. Despite its mixed origins the arch is outstanding for its architectural harmony and pure proportions. The arch of Constantine is the largest of only three such structures that exists in Rome today. “The two others are the Arch of Titus and the Arch of Septimius Severus, both in the nearby Forum Romanum.”

The Arch of Constantine is a three-way arch, measuring 21m in height, 25.7m in width and 7.4m in depth. The central archway is 11.5m high and 6.5m wide, while the lateral archways are 7.4m×3.4m. Eight detached Corinthian columns, four on each side, stand on plinths on the side...

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...dded in place of an earlier phrase).” The divinity on Constantine's coins is often Sol Invictus according to the coins' iscriptions.

The arch was built in honor of Constantine’s victory. The relics and reliefs on the arch badly “sculptured victories in the spandrels of the central arch, the river-gods over the side arches, the medallions of the rising and setting sun at the ends, the Victories on the pedestals of the giallo columns, and the bands over the side arches, are all of Constantine's time, and show the miserably degraded state into which Roman art had sunk by the beginning of the 4th century AD.” The few reliefs made for the monument are recognizable for their hasty craftsmanship, stiff formality and lack of workmanship in antiquity while also considering that it is a arch that the road did not pass through. Even though the art is not top quality as it has been seen in other artifacts from the past, it still tells a story. The arch itself is a monument to a leader while the art work that cover it conveys victories won, battles lost and the surrounding world, a story that it still being told throughout the world, simply from the viewing of this magnificent structure.
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