HSAR 252 - Lecture 22 - Rome Redux: The Tetrarchic Renaissance

Lecture 22 - Rome Redux: The Tetrarchic Renaissance


Professor Kleiner characterizes third-century Rome as an "architectural wasteland" due to the rapid change of emperors, continuous civil war, and a crumbling economy. There was no time to build and the only major architectural commission was a new defensive wall. The crisis came to an end with the rise of Diocletian, who created a new form of government called the Tetrarchy, or four-man rule, with two leaders in the East and two in the West. Diocletian and his colleagues instituted a major public and private building campaign in Rome and the provinces, which reflected the Empire's renewed stability. Professor Kleiner begins with Diocletian's commissions in Rome--a five-column monument dedicated to the tenth anniversary of the formation of the Tetrarchy, the restoration of the Curia or Senate House, and the monumental Baths of Diocletian. She then presents Diocletian's Palace at Split, designed as a military camp and including the emperor's octagonal mausoleum, followed by an overview of the palaces and villas of other tetrarchs in Greece and Sicily. Professor Kleiner concludes with the villa on the Via Appia in Rome belonging to Maxentius, son of a tetrarch, and the main rival of another tetrarch's son, Constantine the Great.


The lectures in HSAR 252 are illustrated with over 1,500 images, many from Professor Kleiner's personal collection, along with others from a variety of sources, especially Wikimedia Commons, Google Earth, and Yale University Press. Some plans and views have been redrawn for this project.


Claridge, Amanda. Rome, pp. 21-23 (historical background), 12, 23, 59 (Aurelian Walls), 70-72 (Curia), 83-84 (Decennial Monument), 352-354 (Baths of Diocletian), 333-334 (Porta Appia), 336-340 (Villa and Tomb of Maxentius, 340 (Tor de'Schiavi)

Ward-Perkins, John B. Roman Imperial Architecture, pp. 415-426, 441-466

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