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Lecture 23 -
Rome of Constantine and a New Rome

Professor Kleiner presents the architecture of Constantine the Great, the last pagan and first Christian emperor of Rome, who founded Constantinople as the "New Rome" in A.D. 324. She notes that Constantine began with commissions that were tied to the pagan past (the Baths of Constantine in Rome) but built others (the Aula Palatina at Trier) that looked to the Christian future. Professor Kleiner makes an impassioned case that some of the finest and most innovative Roman buildings date to the Constantinian period. The "Temple of Minerva Medica," a garden pavilion, for example, is decagonal in shape and the colossal Basilica Nova was inventively modelled on the frigidaria of Roman imperial bath complexes. In addition, the Arch of Constantine, a triple-bayed structure commemorating Constantine's victory over Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, serves as a compendium of Constantine's accomplishments in the context of those of the "good emperors" of the second century A.D. In conclusion, Professor Kleiner asserts that the transfer of the Empire's capital from Rome to Constantinople diminished Rome's influence, at least temporarily, but not the impact of its architecture, which like the city of Rome itself, is eternal.


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