Lecture 1

 - Introduction to Roman Architecture


Professor Kleiner introduces the wide variety of Roman buildings covered in the course and links them with the theme of Roman urbanism. The lecture ranges from early Roman stone construction to such masterpieces of Roman concrete architecture as the Colosseum and Pantheon. Traveling from Rome and Pompeii across the vast Roman Empire, Professor Kleiner stops in such locales as North Africa and Jordan to explore the plans of cities and their individual edifices: temples, basilicas, theaters, amphitheaters, bath complexes, and tombs. The lecture culminates with reference to the impact of Roman architecture on post-antique architectural design and building practice.

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Roman Architecture

HSAR 252 - Lecture 1 - Introduction to Roman Architecture

Chapter 1. Introduction: Roman Urbanism [00:00:00]

Professor Diana E. E. Kleiner: Welcome to Roman Architecture. I’m Professor Kleiner, and what I’d like to do today is to give you a sense of some of the great buildings and some of the themes that we will be studying together this semester. I think it’s important to note, from the outset, that Roman architecture is primarily an architecture of cities. The Romans structured a man-made, worldwide empire out of architectural forms, and those architectural forms revolutionized the ancient world and exerted a lasting influence on the architecture and the architects of post-classical times.

This semester we will be concerned primarily with urban communities–with urban communities–and we will, in the first half of this semester, we will focus on the city of Rome, and in the second–and also central Italy, including Pompeii. And I wanted to show you, at the outset, an aerial view of Rome–you see it over here, on the left-hand side of the screen–that situates us in the very core of the ancient city. You see the famous Colosseum, the very icon of Rome, at the upper right. You see the Roman Forum, as it looks today, and you see a part of the Capitoline Hill, transformed by Michelangelo into the famous Campidoglio, as well as the Via dei Fori Imperiali of Mussolini, built by Mussolini, and the Imperial Fora.

So the city of Rome again we’ll be concentrating on, at the beginning of this semester, as well as the city of Pompeii. An aerial view of Pompeii, as it looks today. You can see many of the buildings of the city, including the houses and the shops, and also the entertainment district. This is the theater and the music hall of ancient Pompeii. The amphitheater is over here. And you can see, of course, looming up in the background, Mount Vesuvius, the mountain that caused all that trouble in 79 A.D.

So that’s the first half of the semester. The second half of the semester we are going to be going out into the provinces, into the Roman provinces, and that is going to take us–and we’re going to look at the provinces both in the eastern and the western part of the Empire–and that will take us to Roman Greece. It will take us to Asia Minor; Asia Minor, which of course is modern Turkey. It will take us to North Africa. It will take us to the Middle East, in what’s now Jordan and Syria, and it will also take us to Europe, to western Europe, to cities in France and to cities in Spain.

And let me just show you an example of some of the buildings that we’ll look at as we travel to the provinces. This is the Library of Celsus, in Ephesus, on the western coast of Turkey. This–the theater, a spectacularly well-preserved theater at Sabratha, you see on the upper right-hand side; and down here a restored view of the masterful Palace of Diocletian. We have the late Roman emperors in a place called Split, which is in Croatia, along the fabulously gorgeous Dalmatian Coast today.

So those are just a sampling of the kinds of buildings that we’ll look at in the provinces. We’re going to be seeing, we’ll be concentrating on the ways in which the Romans planned and built their cities. And it’s important to note, from the very outset, that Rome itself grew in a very ad hoc way. And we can tell that. Here’s a Google Earth image showing that core of Rome, with the Colosseum, with the famous, modern Victor Emmanuel Monument that looks either like a wedding cake or a typewriter. It’s very white, and it’s called the wedding cake by a lot of the locals. You see that here. But it’s a landmark in Rome. And the Capitoline Hill, with the Campidoglio over here; the Forum, the Roman Forum; the Imperial Fora on this side.

But you can see from the relatively crooked and narrow streets of the city of Rome, as they look from above today, you can see that again the city grew in a fairly ad hoc way, as I mentioned. It wasn’t planned all at once, it just grew up over time, beginning in the eighth century B.C. Now this is interesting because what we know about the Romans is when they were left to their own devices, and they could build a city from scratch, they didn’t let it grow in an ad hoc way. They structured it in a very methodical way. It was basically based on military strategy, military planning. The Romans, they couldn’t have conquered the world without obviously having a masterful military enterprise, and everywhere they went on their various campaigns, their various military campaigns, they would build camps, and those camps were always laid out in a very geometric plan, along a grid, usually square or rectangular.

So when we begin to see the Romans building their ideal Roman city, they turn to that so-called castrum, or military camp design, and they build their cities that way. And I show you here one example. We’re using Google Earth here again, another example of, or an example of a city called Timgad, T-i-m-g-a-d, which is in modern Algeria, and the ancient city still survives. And if we look at this Google Earth image of it, you can see there are no later accretions, as we have in Rome, no later civilizations built on top of it.

You can see the ideal Roman plan, which, as I said, is usually either a square or a rectangle. It has in the center the two main streets of the city. The north-south street is called the cardo, c-a-r-d-o. The east-west street is called the decumanus, d-e-c-u-m-a-n-u-s. We’ll go back to all of this in the future; so you don’t have to worry about it today. The cardo and the decumanus, and you can see that they cross exactly; they intersect exactly at the center of the city. And then the rest of the city is arranged in blocks, very regular blocks, this grid plan that I mentioned before. Then some of the major monuments, whether it’s the theater or the forum, are arranged in different parts of the city, and then these blocks constitute essentially the housing and the shops and so on and so forth. This is a city that was planned in around 100 A.D., under the emperor Trajan. And again it gives us an inkling of what the Romans – when the Romans thought about ideal Roman town planning – it was this grid plan, not Rome, but this grid plan that they had very much in mind.

Cities like Rome, like Timgad, and most of the others that we’ll look at in the course of this semester, were surrounded by defensive walls. As a major military machine in its own right, Rome was only too aware of the dangers of attack from others, and consequently they walled their cities. And we will look at the two major walls in Rome, as well as walls in other parts of the Roman world. I promise not to spend too much time on walls, because they’re essentially piles of stone. But they’re important in their own right and I will speak to them on occasion, and especially the two in Rome. You see them here.

This is the first wall in Rome, the so-called Servian Walls, which was built in the Republic, in the Roman Republic, to surround the city, the Republican city, and essentially the Seven Hills, the famous Seven Hills of Rome, to surround the Seven Hills of Rome, in the fourth century B.C. You see a section of it here. This wall–any of you who’ve come to Rome by train, and the Stazione Termini, see a very extensive section of the Servian Walls, as you get out–I don’t know if you’ve noticed it, but you should see–an extensive section of the Servian Walls right outside the train station. This is a different section, a picture I took on the Aventine Hill, showing part of that wall. And that was eventually replaced by later walls.

The city grew over time. It needed a more extensive, broader wall system, and in the late third century A.D., under the emperor Aurelian, the famous Aurelian Walls were built. The Aurelian Walls, as you know – there’s no way you’ve missed those – I’m sure if you’ve been in Rome you’ve seen the Aurelian Walls–they’re there, they’re very much there–at least if you’ve left the city. Maybe if you’ve just gone into the core of the city and haven’t gone beyond that, you might not have seen them. But if you’ve left the city, you’ve seen the Aurelian Walls – a very impressive set of walls that encircled the later city. One thing that’s apparent to you as you look at these, even if you have no knowledge whatsoever of Roman architecture, is these are made of very different kinds of materials. So technical issues come to the fore right away as one analyzes this sort of thing. In the early period, essentially blocks of stone, piled one on top of the other, for the wall. Here, a more sophisticated use, later on in the Empire, of a new technology that we’re going to talk about a lot this semester. That is concrete, and what concrete did to revolutionize Roman architecture; concrete, in this particular case, faced with brick.

Chapter 2. The Urban Grid and Public Architecture [00:09:47]

We talked about regular town planning and the location of the cardo and the decumanus. I want to show you just an example of this. This is a city in Italy, in this case the city of Pompeii. You see it here in plan. This is a plan of Pompeii as it looked, just at the moment that Vesuvius erupted. So in August of 79 A.D. this was the way Pompeii was at that particular time. You can see it’s not really a rectangle; it’s kind of elongated, sort of like an oval, kind of an oval, an irregular oval. But it has the sense; I think it has the sense. It shows you that again even though the Romans were thinking to try to create their cities in a very regular way, it didn’t always work out exactly that way, depending on the terrain and so on and so forth. But this is a rough–it’s sort of an irregular rectangle, as you can see here.

But if you look very carefully, you sort of say to yourself like, “Where’s the cardo, where’s the dec? You just told us the cardo and the decumanus intersect in the center; like where are they? Why aren’t they intersecting in the center?” Well, surprise, surprise, maybe not such a surprise, if you look over here at the bottom left, you will actually see the original city of Pompeii. In the fourth century B.C., the third century B.C., the second century B.C., Pompeii didn’t look like this; Pompeii looked like this. And if you look very carefully at just this section, where we have the buildings in the various colors, you will see that there is indeed a cardo and a decumanus that intersect exactly at the center of this roughly square–so this was actually pretty regular originally–this roughly square city of Pompeii. At three we find the forum, because the forum is always at the intersection. The Romans try–they’re very careful about this sort of thing–try to put their forum right at the intersection of the cardo and the decumanus. You see that here; and then you see a lot of other buildings splayed off to either side.

The law court or the basilica, another temple here. Here the main Temple of Jupiter, and the Senate House or Curia, and a series of other religious and comparable structures, on the right-hand side. So it began as a quite regular plan, cardo and decumanus intersecting at the center, forum right at the intersection of those two. And then over time it grew. It grew and expanded, and the streets, the same streets, the cardo expanded, although it was no longer exactly at the center of the city. This is a view from Google Earth that shows you just pretty much–I tried to angle it in such a way that it looks–that it’s exactly the same angle, or close to exactly the same angle, as the plan that we just looked at before. And you can see over here the amphitheater. You can see many of the streets, including the shops and the houses, and you can see over here the forum, as it looks today from the air. And again it shows you how helpful Google–and, of course, as you know, using Google Earth yourselves for other purposes, you know that you can go way down; I mean, you can find the entire city and then you can go and explore each individual building on your own and in your own time. In fact, that’s what I’ve done here.

Here you see a closer view of the forum in Pompeii, as it looks today, from the air, via Google Earth, here at the left. And I compare it to this plan that comes from your textbook, one of your two textbooks. This is the book by J.B. Ward-Perkins, which is, of the two, the more–well, they’re both important, but then they both do different things–but one of the two important books that we’ll be using this semester. Here is a plan from that book. And you can see the way in which this forum, and this forum is very important at Pompeii because it’s very early in date, and consequently we will talk about it a fair amount.

We see this. The way Roman forums were usually arranged was to have one general open rectangular space, open to the sky, surrounded by columns, with a temple, the key, the most important temple, the chief temple, pushed up against one of the short back walls, and dominating the space in front of it. This is a Capitolium; we’ll talk about what a Capitolium is in a future lecture, but it is a temple to Jupiter and others, as we shall see. Temple of Apollo over here, the basilica or law courts over here. And you can see, interestingly enough, they have essentially the same shape as the central forum proper, rectangular with a colonnade in the center, and then something on one side; it’s not another temple but rather a tribunal, a place from which the judge would try the cases in the law courts. We see the Senate House over here, and a series of other buildings, including a marketplace and some other buildings here, on the right-hand side. So a typical Roman forum at its earliest. This dates very early on, second century B.C., and is therefore an extremely important building for us.

Just so that you get a sense of what some of these look like in actuality, this is the basilica or the law court, which is part of the Forum of Pompeii. And we see that tribunal that I mentioned before, a two-story tribunal from which the judge would try the cases. The building isn’t as well preserved as we’d like, although there’s quite a bit there. What is there allows us to create this kind of reconstruction drawing where we can get a very good sense of what this building actually looked like in antiquity. You see the tribunal over there. You see that there are double stories with columns on either side. You see these colossal columns along the aisle. But most importantly, unlike the forum, which was open to the sky, this is roofed, and it had a flat roof with what’s called a coffered ceiling–we’ll talk about that later in the term–but then a sloping roof from the outside. And basilicas were always roofed; that’s what distinguishes them from a lot of other Roman buildings.

Roman temple architecture. The Temples of Jupiter and Apollo at Pompeii are not that well preserved, but some Roman temples are magnificently preserved. I mean, look at this one, it’s pristine; it’s like it was created yesterday as a duplicate of what a Roman temple, or a restoration of what a Roman temple might have looked like. You could put this in Memphis or somewhere like that, and think that you had a nice replica of a Roman temple. That’s how well preserved it is. It’s an amazing temple. It just happens to be well preserved, in part because it was re-used over time, most recently as a small archaeological museum. This is the famous Maison Carrée, or Square House, for obvious reasons, that is in the beautiful French town of Nîmes, in the south of France. You see it here in all its glory. And think as you look at this how many banks were based on this plan. I mean, you can go to almost any small city in America and see a bank that looks something like this, which just gives you some sense of again how influential Roman architecture has been over time.

It’s a quite traditional temple. We’ll talk about the difference between traditional temple architecture and more innovative temple architecture in the course of this semester. And as innovative as it gets, is one of the key buildings of Roman architecture, which is, of course, the famous Pantheon in Rome. I’m sure there’s none of you who’s been in Rome who hasn’t been inside the Pantheon. It’s an incredible building. This is a Google Map. It was done during–the building was put up during the reign of the very important, from the architectural standpoint and many other standpoints, the very important emperor Hadrian. And we see–this is again one of the wonderful things about Google Earth, because you’re seeing here the modern city, but you’re also seeing in 3D. The building still stands, and it’s in incredible condition–but you’re also seeing the building almost as it would’ve been in ancient times, surrounded by its modern environment. It’s a temple. It’s a very distinctive and innovative temple, because when you look at it from the front, you see it has a kind of traditional porch. It is not unlike the one on the Maison Carrée with columns that support a pediment and looks like earlier Greek or Etruscan architecture.

But what’s very innovative about it is that once you go into the building, you see that this is not about–this is all about an interior space, an extraordinary interior space that is shaped by light, that is shaped by genius, essentially. And this image is actually one of those that gives you a sense of the kind of thing that I’ve been able to incorporate into this course, that I didn’t always use before, which includes many, many, many of my own images. And this one I’m particularly proud of. It’s a very atmospheric view of the dome of the Pantheon, and I think really gives you, almost more than anything else, gives you a sense almost more than anything else that I can show you today, of Rome at its best, of the power and glory of Rome and of Roman architecture. I’m very biased, but as far as I’m concerned this is the greatest building ever conceived by man. So there you are. We’ll see by the end of the semester whether you agree with me or you think I’m absolutely wrong about that.

This is another extraordinary structure and one that enables me to say something that you’ll hear me say more than once–and I know I’m biased–but say more than once in the course of this semester, and that is that there isn’t much that the Romans didn’t discover, didn’t create, and not just in architecture, in all kinds of ways. And this is a good example of that. This is the so-called, the famous Markets of Trajan in Rome, part of the great Forum of the emperor Trajan in Rome. And you can see that what the Romans have done is taken a hill, one of the famous Seven Hills, the Quirinal Hill, taken that hill, cut it back, poured concrete on it and created this incredible shopping center on the side of the hill.

If this isn’t the beginning of mall architecture, I don’t know what is; shopping mall architecture. It’s right here already. You can shop; there are over 150 shops. You can shop on a variety of levels. You can shop in the hemicycle, you can shop along the Via Biberatica. You can shop ‘til you drop in this incredible mall. And as one looks at it in detail, one sees amazing things. This is a view of one of the shopping streets. You can see the typical polygonal masonry that is so characteristic of Roman street design here. Along it, some of the individual shops–think that away at the top, that was added later. But you see some of the individual shops here. And look how ingenious the Romans have been to provide not only a ramp but also a series of stairs, flat area stairs and so on. And this has all been very, very carefully orchestrated by the designers in a way that is not only utilitarian but also very attractive.

And then there’s this. This is the Great Hall of the Markets of Trajan in Rome, a kind of bazaar, which also has a series of shops and also attic windows, as you can see, above. But then the particular marvel of this space is–look what they’ve done above. They have taken, using concrete once again–and this gives you some sense of the miracle of Roman concrete. Using concrete, they have created a new kind of vault, which we call the groin vault, which is a ribbed vault, and you can see the ribs very clearly here. And they have lifted that ribbed vault on top of piers that have been attenuated, narrowed to the point, in a very sophisticated way, much more than was true up to this moment. So they have been able to lift those groin vaults in a way that always reminds me–it’s as if you went and opened a series of umbrellas over a space, lifted the space up in a truly miraculous way. And as an example again of the fact that the Romans–there’s nothing the Romans didn’t do or didn’t invent. Here you see the well-known Marketplace in San Francisco, where you see essentially the same idea; a series of shops down below and then this magnificently lifted ceiling above.

So Roman architecture, as I said in the very beginning, really had a huge impact on later architecture. The Markets of Trajan were part of the forum complex, the Forum of Trajan, which you see part of here. The forum itself was really quite conventional. This is an interesting building because we have a fairly traditional approach to the forum itself, and then an innovative approach to the markets. This is a restored view of the basilica or law court of the Forum of Trajan. You see that it’s very traditional, with columns and marble and a flat ceiling with coffers. And that’s what most of the forum looks like. The markets are done in a very different style, as we saw. And this particular forum was not only a meeting and a marketplace, or a place where cases could be tried, but was also a monument in stone to the military victories of Trajan.

Trajan was the emperor who extended the borders of the Empire to their furthest reaches, and the monument is a testament to what his accomplishments were militarily. And the famous Column of Trajan, which still stands and is in magnificent condition, as you can see here, is a monument that is wrapped with a spiral frieze that purports to describe, from bottom to top, all of the exploits, all of the military exploits of Trajan’s two military campaigns in Dacia. It also served as the emperor’s tomb. There was a burial chamber down below for urns of Trajan and his wife Plotina. So it served not only as a commemoration of his military victory over Dacia–which by the way is modern Romania today–but also to victory over death for the emperor.

Chapter 3. Bathing, Entertainment, and Housing in the Roman City [00:24:41]

Every Roman city had its bath buildings. Most of the houses did not have running water, so baths were extremely important, obviously. So most of these had more than one, and in fact most cities, Pompeii, for example, seems to have had about three bath buildings. They’re very important, both in terms of their social, their practical needs, and also as a place for social interaction, but also because there are some very interesting architectural experiments that took place in them. I’m going to show you in the course of this semester the development from the simplest bath buildings, such as the ones in Pompeii, to the most elaborate. Those of you who’ve visited the Baths of Caracalla in Rome – that’s an example of one of the huge and most elaborate bath buildings.

I show you here on the left-hand side of the screen, just as an example, a view of one of the rooms of the Forum Baths in Pompeii, the caldarium or warm room. All of these baths had multiple spaces within them. One of the distinctions of the earlier baths was that the men’s sections and the women’s sections were separate from one another. And I hate to say it, but the men had all the great rooms. They were bigger and they were more ornately decorated, as this one is – the warm room of the men’s baths at Pompeii. But you can see here, even in much smaller scale than a building like the Pantheon, and much earlier than the Pantheon, they’re beginning to explore the curvatures of the wall, the semi-dome there, and the way in which you can create light effects by putting holes or what’s called an oculus, a round hole, in part of the ceiling, and other rectangular holes in the ceiling to create fantastic light effects. So they’re already exploring that here in Pompeii.

When we look at some of the larger bathing establishments, the Baths of Caracalla still look–well they’re essentially a pile of concrete faced with brick today, as any of you who’ve seen it know. But the scale is truly colossal, and one is very impressed when one wanders around the Baths of Caracalla. But some of the others, for example, the Baths of Diocletian have been reused in modern times, and it’s one of the reasons that so many Roman buildings survive is because of this kind of reuse over the centuries. This, the Baths of Diocletian, part of which was transformed into a church, at first, was decorated at one point in part by Michelangelo. And what we’re looking at here, the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, Saint Mary of the Angels, what we’re looking at here is a view into what was the cold room, or the frigidarium of the Baths of Diocletian, but transformed into a church, used as nave of the church of Saint Mary of the Angels. But if you look very closely, you’ll see those same cross or groin vaults that we saw in the Markets of Trajan, that are also used here to lift the ceiling in a very effective way, and then all these multi-colored columns that you see are actually the columns from the ancient building. So even in this interior of Santa Maria degli Angeli, we can get a sense of how ornate some of the decorations of some of these bath buildings were.

We’re going to look at Roman theaters this semester. This is an example of one, the spectacular Roman theater at Orange in the south of France. You see it here. I’m not going to go into the parts of a theater or its relationship to earlier Greek theatrical architecture. But you can see the stair, you can see the seats, you can see the orchestra. You can see the stage building, a stage building that initially was decorated with a forest of columns, only a couple of which survive, as well as a lot of sculptural decoration, again most of which does not survive. But one of the points I want to make today is that the Greeks tended to build–the Greeks always built their theaters on hillsides. They used the natural hill to support the seats. And that’s true at Orange as well. But the Romans were not content to build their theaters only on hillsides. They wanted to build their theaters where they wanted to build their theaters, and if they wanted to build a theater in downtown Rome, they wanted to build a theater in downtown Rome. So what they did was that they used concrete again to build a hill, upon which they could support those same seats. And that’s again an innovation that we’ll talk about.

This is the Theater of Marcellus in Rome, the earliest surviving stone theater in Rome that dates to the age of Augustus. But I show it to you again, just to show you the wonders of Google Earth. I’ve looked at this building a zillion times. I’ve wandered around it. Most of the ancient part is over on this side, and I’ll show that to you in another lecture. But over time this is one of those buildings that was transformed into all sorts of things, most recently into a fabulous condominium. But as you wander around it today, you get a sense of some of the high-rise apartments that have been added to the original theater. But you can’t get a full sense of it unless you go up above it. And so here’s where again Google Earth is so helpful, because we can look down on the entire complex, see the gardens, see some of the apartments, see the circular driveway and so on and so forth, which gives us information that it wouldn’t be possible to glean anywhere else. And here is–if you let that transformation from modern Rome to ancient Rome take place on Google Earth, this is what you’re going to get for that same Theater of Marcellus. We just saw it and what it looks like today on Google Earth. Here’s what it looks like when you let it transform completely into the Theater of Marcellus from ancient times.

The Colosseum, the very icon of Rome. No Roman city was without its amphitheater, its place for gladiatorial and animal combat, and Rome was no exception. The most famous surviving Roman amphitheater is the Colosseum. I show it to you here from the inside, rather than the outside initially, because I can–it allows me to illustrate the places where the animals were kept down below, but also to show you that that building has been used as a quarry. It was used by the popes and the princes of later Italy as a stone quarry. They would take essentially–well they stripped it of all its interior marble, to use that in a variety of buildings in Rome, and some of those we know their identification even today. Here’s a view of one of the corridors where you can see once again those groin vaults or ribbed vaults that the Romans popularized.

Connecting all these cities with one another were the streets of the city. We’ll look at streets, especially in Pompeii, where they are extremely well preserved, and these streets look very modern–you see the polygonal stones–but very modern in the use of the sidewalks. The sidewalks; there are drains as well along the sidewalks. And then you can see these very deep rut marks where the wheels of the carts used to–over time obviously they made these ruts in the pavement. And then over here a small fountain, a fountain blessed by Hermes or Mercury. You can see him there with his wings and his caduceus. A small fountain, important obviously again because most of the houses did not have running water, and there had to be a place that you could go to collect water for household use.

One of the great things about Pompeii, of course, is it gives us a sense of what life was like in ancient Roman times, daily life was like. And we’ll look at millstones that are part of bakeries, as well as ovens that look–again, the Romans invented everything–look very much like a modern pizza oven. You go over to BAR, you’ll see one of those. Over here, wine shops; we have lots of wine shops in these Roman cities, and they’re particularly well preserved in Herculaneum and in Pompeii, with these clay amphorae that were used to hold wines, that were brought to Italy, and also sometimes oils, that were brought to Italy from different parts of the world.

Every Roman city had its McDonald’s, or its Wendy’s, or its Burger King, and I show one of those to you here. It’s called a thermopolium, as you can see down below; thermopolium. A thermopolium was essentially–what it was made up of is a–it is a series of–a counter, with a series of recesses. And each day those who ran this thermopolium put different food in there, and so when you got hungry–again, the whole sort of fast food idea–you just walk by, like in a cafeteria, point out what you wanted. They’d serve it to you and you’d be on your way. So very much fast food–so we see lots of them in Pompeii and Herculaneum.

We’ll look at Roman houses. This is one example, the House of the Vettii in Pompeii, spectacularly preserved house, where we can see a pool that was actually used for collecting water, a hole in the ceiling, but a view from the atrium of the house into the garden. The garden over here, you get a sense of it – the greenery, the marble furniture, the fountains, and then the paintings on the walls. I mentioned at the beginning we’ll spend a fair amount of time – we’ll spend a few lectures on Roman painting. And the reason that I do that is because it’s absolutely gorgeous and it’s fascinating. But it also allows us to get a better understanding of interior decoration among the Romans, how they decorated their walls.

But also, because as you can see from this one example, from Boscoreale, now in the Metropolitan Museum, the famous Met Cubiculum, which is decorated with Second Style Roman wall painting, that these paintings often depict buildings. They are architectural paintings, and they are very important in that regard because we see – we often see – experimentation in painting before we see it in architecture. And so there are going to be some things, for example, this broken triangular pediment, that we’re going to see first in painting and then in built architecture. So painting – extremely important for us.

We’ll also go to the city of Ostia, the port of Rome, which is a city very different from Pompeii because it is essentially a second-century Roman city, rather than a first-century Roman city. The construction technique is concrete, faced with brick. I show you one example of that. But what’s most interesting about the houses in Ostia has to do with the kind of city it was – again, the port of Rome, a commercial city. It was very congested. People were not as wealthy as those in the resort town of Pompeii, and consequently they needed–people didn’t have single-story houses, like the one in Pompeii that I just showed you before – but rather apartment houses with multi-stories; a kind of condominium idea. And these are fascinating in their difference from those in Pompeii, and that’s a difference that we will surely explore.

The very well-to-do lived in–the very well-to-do had villas. The emperors had villas all along what is now the Amalfi Coast. Capri, the island of Capri. The emperor Augustus and Tiberius had twelve villas on the Island of Capri. The most extraordinary villa, Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli, which I show you here from the air. A kind of microcosm of the Empire at that particular time, with extraordinary buildings, with pools, decorated with sculpture that show the eclectic taste of the emperor who liked things Roman, liked things Greek, liked things Egyptian, and statues of–he was married, but he also had a beloved young boy whom he met in Bithynia. Antinous, the famous Antinous that he met in Bithynia and who became the love of his life. And when Antinous died he created all kinds of shrines for Antinous. This is very important architecturally because all these are interesting shrines. But in each of those shrines he created statues of Antinous, and this is one showing Antinous as an Egyptian pharaoh, which was perfect for this particular locale because it was meant to conjure up a canal in Egypt.

Chapter 4. Roman Tombs, Aqueducts, and the Lasting Impact of Roman Architecture [00:37:06]

We’re going to look at tomb architecture–I want to show you this very quickly–but we’re going to look at a lot of tomb architecture, because tomb architecture is particularly interesting, because the only practical consideration for a tomb, is that it had to house the remains of the deceased, that’s it. So you could be very whimsical and personal about the kind of tomb you wanted to be buried in. This is a series at Pompeii, but we’re going to look at those of the emperor Augustus who was buried in a mausoleum that went back to those of the earlier Etruscans, kings, who ruled Rome before the emperors did, and he built a round tomb with an earthen mound, very similar to that of the Etruscans.

Hadrian, the famous emperor Hadrian, was also buried in a round tomb, at the well-known Castel Sant’ Angelo, in Rome today, with its beautiful Bernini bridge, the angels, Bernini’s angels on the bridge – also a round tomb. In its current form, transformed into a fortress, it was used by the popes when they needed to hide out during times of trouble. Very whimsical tombs, including this pyramid of a man by the name of Cestius, and he built this tomb during a time of–when a wave of things Egyptian came into Rome, at the time that Augustus defeated Cleopatra and Antony. And then even these communal tombs, communal burial places for the less well-to-do, where their remains were placed in urns. We’ll also look at tombs in other parts of the Roman world. This is a famous tomb, a rock-cut tomb in Petra, in what is now Jordan. And you can see that the tomb is essentially the rock; in fact, the burial chamber is inside the rock and the façade has been carved out of the rock.

We’re going to talk about aqueducts in the course of the semester; just fleetingly show you two, the ways in which the Romans brought–for those they conquered, they provided amenities, including water, that was brought from a great distance. This is the famous Pont du Gard at Nîmes. And this is the one I showed you before on Google Earth, the fabulous aqueduct at Segovia that marches its way through the city.

I have just a couple of minutes, and I basically wanted to close just making two very quick points about the difference between traditional Roman architecture and innovative Roman architecture. I’m not going to go into that in any detail here. It’s going to be the topic of one of our lectures very soon. But this transformation from temples that are based on Greek and Etruscan prototypes, like that one here, to something like the Pantheon. I also want to mention from the start that unlike other courses in architecture where you may have been studying Frank Lloyd Wright or Borromini, Francesco Borromini, or Frank Gehry, we have very few names of architects preserved from Roman times, because it was the patron who was all, not the architect, and I’ll explain that in a future lecture. But we have some, and we’ll talk about them when we do.

We will also see–and I just want to end up where I began, which is to say again that Roman architecture had a huge impact on architecture of post-classical times. The Roman basilica became the Christian church. The round tomb of Rome became the round church in the early Medieval and Byzantine periods. Tombs like the one in Jordan, that I showed you just before, which form what I call kind of a baroque phase of Roman architecture, were the models for seventeenth-century Baroque architecture in Rome, for example, Borromini’s San Carlino. The Pantheon had–you all know what this is, UVA. The Pantheon had a huge impact. There are many ‘Pantheons’ everywhere, including in this country banks and the like. Thomas Jefferson looked to the Pantheon to design his rotunda at the University of Virginia, and the lawn that lay beyond.

But for us, in this classroom, at this particular time, the most important impact, as far as I’m concerned, of Roman architecture on more modern architecture has to do with the amphitheater at Pompeii, which you see here; my favorite amphitheater. The Colosseum is more famous. The amphitheater at Pompeii is earlier in date. And what’s significant for us, in this classroom, at this particular time, is that the amphitheater at Pompeii–and I kid you not–is the model for our own amphitheater, and that is the Yale Bowl – it is the model. This is the building–and you see it here from the air, the amphitheater in Pompeii–on which the Yale Bowl was based. So again, the Romans have clearly had a huge impact on architecture worldwide; on our own architecture.

And we think we live on a Gothic campus, but I’ll show you, in the course of this semester, how many Roman buildings there are. In fact, we had a post–and just to get you inspired–we had a post in an earlier year in which people went around the campus to take pictures and then post them online of buildings that they thought were influenced by those of the Roman past. At any rate, that’s it for today. Great to see you, meet you all. If any of you have any questions at all, I’m happy to answer them, as are the teaching fellows.

[end of transcript]

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