Tuesday, 8 December 2015

The Arch of Severus in Rome

The Arch of Severus - Calude Lorrain 1636
One of these days I will go to Rome and view all of the wonderful ancient splendours I’m writing about. By then, I will have acquired a better camera so that I can take immensely impressive photographs of all of the magnificent edifices in Rome that are lasting legacies. 

Equally lovely would be to visit the galleries across the world which house any reference to the antiquities found in Rome. 
Jaques Chereau 1750

Some of the paintings displayed today I have probably already viewed during visits to places like the Louvre, or the Uffizi Gallery, but as I didn't know as much about the history of Rome as I do now, I would have viewed them with appreciation but not for their significance in my present researches. 

The interpretation of what was available for the artist to see is intriguing. I haven't done enough research to know whether all of the artists displayed here today actually sat in place at the Forum to do the initial sketches for these amazing paintings...though I imagine they all did. 
Constantin Hansen 1846
The Roman Emperor Severus was well known for his ferociousness in battle, and during his reign as emperor, but he is also famous for the lasting legacies in building works still available to see in parts of the Empire.

His triple triumphal arch on the Via Sacra in the Forum of Rome is a magnificent example of how such an emperor left his stamp for all to view. The spectacular structure with its three arches is a magnificent testimony to his prowess, and that of his sons, in battle against the enemies of Rome.

Wikimedia Commons Contemporary photograph 

Built in AD 203, it glorified the defeats in battle against the Parthians, the inhabitants of what is largely modern day Iran—though the Roman Empire never completely held that territory. The inscriptions claim that Emperor Severus and his sons, Caracalla and Geta, expanded the empire for the people of Rome.  

Wikimedia Commons

Built of travertine, a kind of limestone, and faced with white grained marble from Proconnesus the arch is a marvel of descriptive sculpture. Around the surface are battle scenes, deities, other victories and seasonal images. In four huge panels there’s something akin to a time capsule of events though the detail is very worn in places to be almost indiscernible. Scenes are said to describe the army marching off from their camp; forming up for a battle where Septimius Severus speaks before his troops, a battle scene and the liberation of Nisibis. Siege machines are shown attacking the city of Edessa; a group of Parthians surrender to Septimius Severus; there’s a war council within a fortified camp, and the launch of a new campaign.

I really want to admire what is left to see of the Arch of Severus. 
(Some of the information  via http://www.ancient.eu/article/502/  )



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