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Constantine and Rome

Constantine and Rome

Copyright Date: 2004
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Constantine and Rome
    Book Description:

    Constantine the Great (285-337) played a crucial role in mediating between the pagan, imperial past of the city of Rome, which he conquered in 312, and its future as a Christian capital. In this learned and highly readable book, R. Ross Holloway examines Constantine's remarkable building program in Rome.Holloway begins by examining the Christian Church in the period before the Peace of 313, when Constantine and his co-emperor Licinius ended the persecution of the Christians. He then focuses on the structure, style, and significance of important monuments: the Arch of Constantine and the two great Christian basilicas, St. John's in the Lateran and St. Peter's, as well as the imperial mausoleum at Tor Pignatara. In a final chapter Holloway advances a new interpretation of the archaeology of the Tomb of St. Peter beneath the high altar of St. Peter's Basilica. The tomb, he concludes, was not the original resting place of the remains venerated as those of the Apostle but was created only in 251 by Pope Cornelius. Drawing on the most up-to-date archaeological evidence, he describes a cityscape that was at once Christian and pagan, mirroring the personality of its ruler.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-12971-7
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xv)
  5. [Illustrations]
    (pp. xvi-xvi)
  6. I Constantine and the Christians
    (pp. 1-18)

    AT THE END OF OCTOBER 312 a Roman warlord was leading his army south from its latest victory toward the capital (fig. 1.1).¹ The struggle for the succession to Diocletian’s regime of shared imperial authority was entering a crucial phase. Diocletian’s tetrarchy of two emperors and their two lieutenants had given Rome four rulers ready to defend the long frontier against barbarians and the threat of Persian invasion. The division of command had served the empire well. But since Diocletian, with a self-control known to few rulers, had laid down his office in 304, an inevitable power struggle had taken...

  7. II The Arches
    (pp. 19-56)

    I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the Arch of Constantine (figs. 2.1 and 2.2). The evening before I left Rome in 1962 after two years as a postdoctoral fellow, I walked down to look one last time on this monument, which was completed within three years of Constantine’s triumphal entry into the city. Standing between the arch and the Colosseum, with the vista of the valley between the Palatine and Caelian Hills in the background and the warm light of a Roman evening in August around me, I could easily read the arch’s inscription, on...

  8. III Basilicas, Baptistry, and Burial
    (pp. 57-119)

    The basilica of S. Giovanni in Laterano stands on the highest point of the Caelian hill just inside the Aurelian walls (fig. 3.1). There are no steep approaches, only a gradual ascent from the area of the Colosseum to the point where the Caelian ridge meets the Esquiline plateau. The eighteenth-century façade of S. Giovanni magnifies the height of the church through five grand arches carried from the ground level to the cornice far above. Along the top of the façade there is a glorious epiphany in which a company of saints gesticulates fervently around the figure of Christ Himself...

  9. IV The Tomb of St. Peter
    (pp. 120-156)

    S. PIETRO IN VATICANO today is a church brought into being by an accumulation of genius. The colonnades, which replaced the atrium of the ancient and medieval basilica and curve around the square before the present basilica, are the work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1656–57). Of course Bernini was given some assistance and some direction. Carlo Maderno’s façade was in place when he began work, and the obelisk that once adorned the median divider of Nero’s Circus situated slightly south of the basilica was reerected in its present location in 1586. The new church itself, begun in 1506, was...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 157-176)
  11. Glossary
    (pp. 177-178)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 179-186)
  13. Index
    (pp. 187-191)