ANCIENT HISTORY – ROME – ARCH OF CONSTANTINE
“To the Emperor Caesar Flavius Constantinus, the greatest, pious, and blessed Augustus: because he, inspired by the divine, and by the greatness of his mind, has delivered the state from the tyrant and all of his followers at the same time, with his army and just force of arms, the Senate and People of Rome have dedicated this arch, decorated with triumphs.”
In gratitude of the victory of Constantine over his co-emperor Maxentius in the battle of the Milvian Bridge in A.D. 312, the Roman Senate and people erected a triumphal arch in the valley between the Caelian Hill and the Palatine. It lies on the Via Triumphalis, the road along which the triumphal procession passed.
With a height of 25.7m and a depth of 7,4m, it is the largest and best preserved of Roman war memorials. It adopt triple archway model of the Arch of Septimius Severus, with its structure divided in front by columns, and is very colorful in appearance because of the use of polichrome varieties of marble.
Unlike earlier buildings of the kind, however, the Arch of Constantine is not an entirely new creation. Most of its reliefs are taken from older buildings, of the period of Trajan, Hadrian, and Marcus Aurelius.
In the process, their imperial portraits were usually replaced by the portrait of Constantine, and sometimes by that of his co-emperor Licinius, updating what were now historical events of the past.
he reason of such a procedure lies in Rome’s loss of power when its old position as capital of the empire was ceded to Constantinople.
A consecuence of this political development was the closure of the great sculptors’ studios, which had depended mainly on court commissions. When there were not enough sculptors available to work on large public projects, older monuments were demolished and their materials re-used.