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Bill Thayer

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The Arch of Constantine:

A Piece of Quick Propaganda


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This is the north face of the Arch of Constantine, taken from the second story of the Colosseum, about 50 meters NE of the arch. The Meta Sudans, an ancient fountain, lies between the two, offscreen right: not much remains. (The Arch of Titus is also offscreen, about 150m to your right at the top of the via Sacra leading down into the Roman Forum.) Behind the Arch in this photo is the E slope of the Palatine Hill.

Frieze: 1 2 Inscription 3 4

1‑2 Inscription 3‑4

W

 

 

 
W face


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			E

 

 


E face


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W

 

 

 
W face

 

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center arch:
outside
inside: west east

 

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above the
E arch

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above the
E arch

 

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center arch:
outside
inside: east west

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above the
W arch

The false colors added above show just how much of this edifice was patched together from the work of previous centuries: and in fact, the periods of Trajan, Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius account for the best sculpture. It may be instructive to look at the differences in style.

The two clickmaps above, and the set of pictures they lead to, cover most of the arch. (Missing: detailed shots of the Trajanic-period statues that break up the frieze; and general views of the E and W faces, although all their sculptural elements are pictured.)

Clicking anywhere on the arch (or on the brief descriptions in the margins) will send you to a large image (150‑300K) of that area in another window. The pictures are all up; the text is dribbling in.
[ 19 images: bullets • indicate those where you can zoom in even further. ]

For full-size views of the arch free of color-coding, click on the sky above it, or here:
South face [image ALT: a blank space] North face

If you click on the area in front of the N face, or here, you will see what's left of the Meta Sudans, in 1997 excavations.

By the way, a camera tip: you've noticed that one of these pictures shows the arch in shadow; and indeed, while the south face gets good light year 'round, the north face does not, of course. To get good sunlit pictures of it, you need to be there in the summer, in the early morning or late evening. Morning is theoretically better since the monument is not oriented due north, but a bit east of north: on the other hand, the nearby Colosseum (NE) casts more shadow than the more distant Temple of Venus and Rome (NW). Good luck!


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Page updated: 23 Dec 99