HSAR 252: Roman Architecture

Lecture 13

 - The Prince and the Palace: Human Made Divine on the Palatine Hill


Professor Kleiner investigates the major architectural commissions of the emperor Domitian, the last Flavian emperor. She begins with the Arch of Titus, erected after Titus’ death by his brother Domitian on land previously occupied by Nero’s Domus Transitoria. The Arch celebrated Titus’ greatest accomplishment–the Flavian victory in the Jewish Wars–and may have served as Titus’ tomb. Professor Kleiner also discusses the Stadium of Domitian, the shape of which is preserved in Rome’s Piazza Navona. Her major focus is the vast Imperial Palace on the Palatine Hill designed by the architect Rabirius and featuring Domitian as dominus et deus (lord and god). Constructed from brick-faced concrete and revetted with multicolored imported marbles, this structure was divided into public and private wings, and was so magnificent that it served as the urban residence of all subsequent Roman emperors. The lecture concludes with the so-called Forum Transitorium, a narrow forum begun by Domitian and finished by his successor Nerva, which features a temple to Domitian’s patron goddess Minerva and a series of decorative columnar bays that create a lively in-and-out undulation that heralds the beginning of a “baroque” phase in Roman architecture.

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Roman Architecture

HSAR 252 - Lecture 13 - The Prince and the Palace: Human Made Divine on the Palatine Hill

Chapter 1. The Jewish Wars, the Flavian Dynasty, and the Arch of Titus [00:00:00]

Professor Diana E.E. Kleiner: Good morning. Today’s lecture is entitled “The Prince and the Palace: Human Made Divine on the Palatine Hill.” And I want to begin essentially where we left off, and that is with the emperor Vespasian, the founder of the Flavian dynasty, and the political shrewdness that Vespasian demonstrated, when he made the decisions that he did – when he made the decision especially to use architecture to further his political agenda. And you’ll recall that the way in which he did that was that he–and I’m going to show you the site plan once again on the Esquiline and Palatine Hills; the site plan that shows us how he did this. How he did this was he recognized that he didn’t want to associate himself with Nero, but it was to his advantage to associate himself instead with the emperor Claudius.

And he did that by finishing the platform, and indeed the temple itself that we looked at last time, and that is the Temple of the Divine Claudius, the Claudianum, that had been begun by Agrippina the Younger. He completed that as a nod to Claudius; and again, a very smart political move on his part. He also, as you’ll recall, razed the Domus Aurea of Nero to the ground, covered up what was left of it otherwise, and then he filled in the artificial lake, and he used the property that the artificial lake was on, to build the Colosseum, which itself was a shrewd gift to the Roman people, to gain their favor, and he did succeed in that regard.

Equally important, perhaps even more important, is the decision that Vespasian made in the year 79 A.D., and that decision–and we see a portrait once again of Vespasian, on the right-hand side of the screen, now in Copenhagen–the decision he made in 79 was to appoint his elder son, Titus, as co-regent. And we see a portrait of Titus on the left-hand side of the screen, in military costume. It’s a portrait that was found in Herculaneum, so that we know it needs to date prior to 79: so very likely sometime in the seventies, that particular statue was put up. Now the reason it was smart politically to appoint Titus as his co-regent was that Titus was extremely capable. He was also extremely popular in Rome, with the people, with the Senate, and what it did was to ensure the succession: to ensure the succession. And so when Vespasian died of natural causes in 79 A.D., Titus was prepared to take over, and indeed he did, and he took over without any contest whatsoever, which was a great accomplishment.

Titus, however–oh, and Titus, by the way, was young when he became emperor; he was in his early thirties, about thirty-two, full of energy, and he needed it for what lay ahead, because he was unlucky. And his reign was affected by three major events, the first of which you know intimately already, and that is the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Titus’ reign was 79 to 81. So in 79 A.D., Vesuvius erupts and Titus has to deal with the consequences of that, covered over, as you well know, almost all of Campania. In the year 80 he suffered, or Rome suffered, a very serious plague, which Titus also had to deal with. He had to marshal all of his energy and all his ingenuity to deal with a very serious plague in Rome, and that plague was followed by a fire, also an exceedingly serious fire. So Titus had his hands full, and perhaps it’s not surprising, given all the stress of those years that he too died of natural causes in 81, at a very young age.

But despite what he went through during 79 to 81, Titus’ claim to fame was something that happened much earlier, and I’ve mentioned it before, and that is something that happened already in the year A.D. 70. And it was in the year A.D. 70 that Vespasian sent his elder son to Jerusalem, to Judea, to get involved in a major military war. And it was Titus, as you’ll recall, who was victorious in the Jewish Wars, and that took place in 70 A.D. And it was extremely important, not only in itself, from Rome’s standpoint, but also because it provided legitimacy to the Flavian dynasty. I mentioned that when a Roman dynasty came to power in a civil war–which was the case, both for Augustus, after the civil war that Rome was plunged into after Caesar’s death, and was the case again for Vespasian after the chaos of the year 68/69–they needed a foreign victory to gain legitimacy. So for the Flavian dynasty, the war over Jerusalem gave them that legitimacy, and was therefore extremely important in terms of the art and ideology of the Flavian dynasty.

I want to turn to an arch that was put up in honor of that very victory over Jerusalem, sometime after A.D. 81. It was the so-called Arch of Titus, one of the most famous Roman monuments of all, and it was put up, although it bears Titus’ name, it was put up not by him, but by his brother Domitian, his younger brother Domitian, who succeeded him after Titus’ death, which is why we date it to sometime after A.D. 81. I want to show you first its location, because that itself is significant. We are looking at the Google Earth view of the Roman Forum. You see the Roman Forum here. You see the Colosseum up at the top center. You see the Capitoline Hill or Campidoglio here; the Victor Emmanuel Monument here–I’ve pointed these out many times before–the Via dei Fori Imperiali of Mussolini; the Imperial Fora to the left; again the Roman Forum here; and the Palatine Hill, which we’re going to be concentrating on today.

But you’ll remember that Nero’s hope was to link the Palatine Hill with the Esquiline Hill, which is right up to the left of the Colosseum, and to do that via a spur hill–a spur hill that’s located just right here, a bit above my finger–a spur hill called the Velia, V-e-l-i-a, that was to link the two. And you’ll remember Nero’s plans for his Domus Transitoria, this palace that was to serve as a point of transit between those two hills, and you’ll recall also the remains of some of the rooms from the Domus Transitoria. So this was again land that had been built up by Nero. So it’s not surprising to see the Flavians–once again Titus following suit, and then his younger brother Domitian following suit–to use land that had earlier been used by Nero for new Flavian monuments, in this case an arch put up to the victory that Titus celebrated over Jerusalem. And if you look very carefully, again just a bit, a few inches above where my finger is, you will see the Arch of Titus standing on that spur hill, on the Velia, between the Palatine and the Esquiline Hills.

The Arch of Titus, again which dates to after A.D. 81, was placed right next to the Sacred Way, or the Via Sacra. It doesn’t span the street, but it’s placed right next to it, adjacent to it, and I think you can see that very well in these two views here, which also show that quite a bit of ancient road actually survives, or a piece of ancient road actually survives, in the Roman Forum. It’s on the slope that you see here, and you can see the way in which it goes right by the Arch of Titus that you see to its right. This is a view up the hill, up the Sacred Way, toward the Velia, and here down, from the Arch of Titus, down into the rest of the Forum. And again you can see the polygonal masonry of the ancient road still preserved. The ancient way, the Via Sacra, was the road that the triumphant general took when he returned to Rome, after a great military victory; so this is exactly the road that Titus himself would’ve taken when he came back from Judea and walked in triumph, or rode in triumph, in his chariot, along the Sacred Way and up to the Capitoline Hill. Because the triumphant general, who was garbed with the attributes of Jupiter, in this procession, made his way up to the Capitoline Hill, would get off his chariot up there, right at the altar, in front of the Temple of Jupiter OMC, and make a sacrifice to Jupiter. So you have to imagine Titus doing this; along with Vespasian, because you’ll remember I mentioned to you that they celebrated a joint triumph, that Titus was willing to share his triumph with his father Vespasian. So they both would’ve come in, in triumph, into Rome, after this great victory. Once again you can see the arch in the view on the right.

Another view of the arch here, which shows it on the Velia; and here you can get a very good sense of the way in which that spur hill unites the Palatine and the Esquiline, as well as the proximity of the Arch of Titus to the Colosseum. We are seeing that the Flavians are building up a certain area of Rome, with their monuments, and this is no exception. The view that we see here, from the Forum, of one side of the Arch of Titus, shows a modern inscription, but we’ll see that there is an ancient inscription on the other side. And we’re also going to see that although the arch looks very well preserved, it was actually quite heavily restored by an architect by the name of Giuseppe Valadier, and that happened in the nineteenth century that Valadier–V-a-l-a-d-i-e-r; Giuseppe Valadier–restored the Arch of Titus. And the part of the arch that is ancient is essentially the central section, right here–mostly on the other side actually; on this side just the spandrels and the inner panels here, and on the other side we’ll see–well I’ll show you when we get to the other side. So this side important to know that the inscription is a modern one.

Here’s the other side of the arch, where you can see again the central section is ancient, with the spandrels, these triangular areas here; the columns on this side are ancient; the keystone is ancient; the frieze up above the keystone is ancient; the inscription is ancient on this side. But all the rest was restored by Valadier, as I said in the nineteenth century. And Valadier did something very interesting, and archaeologically very forward thinking, in that since the center of the arch was made out of Greek marble, pentelic marble–p-e-n-t-e-l-i-c–pentelic marble from Mount Pentelikon in Greece–which in itself is interesting because we saw that the Flavians were using imported marbles in their buildings; I’ve mentioned that already before. So we see a continuation of that trend here, use of pentelic marble for the arch. But when Valadier did the restorations, or the reconstruction, he used travertine for the modern parts of the arch, so that when you–it probably isn’t so evident to you from this view, but when you stand in front of the arch you can see the difference in the materials, and he wanted to point out to the spectator that there was a difference between the ancient part of the monument and the modern part of the monument, as restored by him.

This view on the left, there are quite a number of preserved paintings and engravings that show the arch before the Valadier reconstruction, and you see one of those over there. And you can see we’re looking at the same side of the arch here as we are here. So once again you can see the ancient – what survived of the ancient arch: the central part; the two columns on bases; the keystone; the spandrels; the frieze; and then the inscription. So, and we see that here. And this is another one of those Roman monuments that was essentially preserved because of re-use over time, or at least the part of it that still exists. And this was turned into, as so many other monuments, was turned into a fortress at one point, a fortress that was owned by the Frangipani family in Italy.

So that’s the ancient part; the rest restored by Valadier. And you have to also reconstruct in your mind’s eye that this arch would’ve served as a kind of statue base for a representation, or for a sculptural group, in bronze, that would’ve represented Titus, and perhaps Vespasian also, together, seated in a chariot, being led by four horses, a great quadriga group that was customarily placed on the top of such arches. Below that the inscription plaque, below that, as I’ve already described, a frieze–I’m going to show you that frieze in a moment. Then the spandrels, and then in the center here, two great panels, one on either–figural panels–one on either side of the arch.

Chapter 2. The Arch of Titus: Triumph and Tomb [00:14:18]

You see the inscription here. It’s interesting because it tells us that it was the Senate and People of Rome, the SPQR, the Senate and People of Rome, who put this up to the Divine Titus, Divo Tito, as you can see here, and–the Divine Titus, who was the son–there’s an F for filius right over here–the son of the Divine Vespasian. So the divinity of both of these men, both of whom were made gods at their death, is alluded to here. So the Senate and People of Rome put this up to the Divine Titus, the son of the Divine Vespasian. And you can see all of these little holes that are located in some of the letters. The reason for those is that those were where bronze letters were actually attached. So these letters were inscribed and then bronze letters were attached to them so that the inscription would gleam in the sunshine, and so that you could see it from considerable distance.

Down below the inscription plaque we see the frieze, which purports to represent this great procession or parade that took place when Titus returned from Jerusalem, and had his triumphal procession along the Sacred Way, and up to the Capitoline Hill and the Temple of Jupiter. And you can see that the artist has made the figures fairly small, but at the same time has made each one distinct from the other, so that this is more readable from the ground. And then below that, the decoration of the keystone. And then in either spandrel, or triangular area at either side of the keystones, we see victories, flying female figures of victory, that are of course making reference, in a general way, to this great victory that Titus had over Jerusalem.

Important from the architectural standpoint are the columns and especially the capitals. I show you a detail of one of the preserved–there are two again–but one of the two preserved capitals from this side of the arch, the side that faces the Colosseum. And you see it here, and it’s a distinctive capital that we have not seen before. It’s a capital that actually combines the Corinthian and the Ionic, because you can see the Corinthian acanthus leaves growing up here: flowers, as we see, in the usual Corinthian order, and then prominent volutes of the Ionic order up above. We refer to this as the composite capital; the composite capital, combining Corinthian and Ionic. We see it quite infrequently in Roman architecture, but we do see it on occasion. So it’s good for you to know about.

In the center of the bay I mentioned that there were two great figural panels, and these figural panels make reference to Titus’ victory over Jerusalem, to this important event, from the point of view of the Flavians, that gave their dynasty legitimacy. And we see one of those here. We actually see an image of Titus in his chariot, and he’s riding alone, without his father. He’s riding alone in his chariot, with the exception of a female figure who accompanies him. And you can see that female figure is winged, and she is a personification of victory–so she is heralding the victory that he has had in Jerusalem–and, in fact, she holds a laurel wreath above his head, crowning him, because of that victory. The chariot is led by four horses, who are whizzing by, as you can see here, and they are led, at the front, by a woman in a helmet and military costume, who might well be Roma, the personification of Rome herself. And what is she doing? She’s welcoming Titus back to Rome, after his great victory over Jerusalem.

Over here, two other figures, two other male figures, both headless today, but one of them in a toga, and the other figure with a bare chest and a mantle wrapped over the lower part of his body. Because we have the same figures in other reliefs, we know, despite the fact that they are headless, that these are personifications of the Senate. The dressed person, the person in toga, is the Senate, the Genius–g-e-n-i-u-s, like genius–the Genius Senatus, or the Spirit of the Senate. And this, the Genius Populi Romani, which was the representative of the Roman People. So keep in mind again, it was the Senate and People of Rome that put up the arch to Titus, the son of the divine Vespasian; and we see themselves, or their personifications, represented in this scene.

More interesting from our standpoint, vis-à-vis architecture, is the other scene, on the other side of the central bay, where we see the Roman soldiers, or a group of Roman soldiers, bringing back spoils or booty, trophies, from Jerusalem, things that they have stolen from the temple in Jerusalem. And you can see the famous seven-branched candelabrum that they are carrying here. The weight is so great that their shoulders bend under that weight. And we also see them with a table over here that has a number of sacrificial implements and so on, that were taken also from the Temple in Jerusalem. So they carry these along in this parade, for the people to see, for those in Rome to see, to get a real palpable sense of what it meant to have this victory, and of the spoils that are being brought back. And you can see that–this is represented very illusionistically–and you can see that they seem to be walking through an arch, that is also represented here: a very interesting scene indeed.

And you’ll recall what they did with those spoils. They took those spoils and they put them in the Templum Pacis that we talked about last time, or the Forum Pacis that we talked about last time, that served essentially as a kind of museum where the people of Rome could see these images. So once again the Flavians always showing an affinity for, and an interest in, the people of the city – the people of the city that they were trying, of course, to court favor from. So we’re seeing Domitian, who again was the commissioner of this monument, continuing on in the same vein as Vespasian and Titus, honoring this victory that gave legitimacy to the Flavian dynasty, but also always acknowledging and thinking of the impact that it’s going to have on the Senate and the People of Rome.

The central bay, if you stand right below it and look up, you will see the vault of the interior of the arch, and you can see that it has a coffered ceiling, as we’ve seen so often in Roman monuments; quite well preserved, with the coffers and then the rosettes in the center. And if I show you another detail of that, you’ll get an even better sense of it, and also of how ornate the decoration is. We’ve talked about the fact that the Flavians had a particular interest in very ornate decoration, and you can see that as well here. In fact, the drill has been used so extensively that it almost dematerializes the vault, I think, in a very interesting way, creating a kind of overall tapestry of dark and light. And then in the center a panel that is surrounded by a garland, and in the center of that panel a depiction–you can probably barely see it from where you sit–but a depiction of Titus being carried to heaven on the back of an eagle. In this case Titus is not in military dress but in a toga. He’s on the back of an eagle, with outstretched wings, and that eagle is taking him up to the heavens.

What this is, is a representation of apotheosis–a-p-o-t-h-e-o-s-i-s–apotheosis, or divinization: the divinization–because the Romans believed that they could make humans into gods, after their death–the making of Titus into a god after his death, and the depiction of–the material depiction of him actually being carried to heaven on the back of an eagle, a very powerful image. And the fact that it is in the archivolt of this vault here has led scholars to suggest that it is possible that the Arch of Titus in Rome served as Titus’ tomb. And that seems to be corroborated by the fact that behind the attic, or inside the attic of the arch, is a staircase, as well as a chamber, and I show both of them to you here: a spiral staircase and a chamber, a chamber that might well have served as a burial chamber for an urn of Titus. The urn was never found–was not found in the excavation of this monument, so we can’t prove this, but I think it’s very possible that this arch served as a tomb for the emperor Titus.

Chapter 3. Domitian’s Succession and Stadium (The Piazza Navona) [00:23:25]

Titus was succeeded, as I’ve already mentioned, by his younger brother Domitian, whom you see in two portraits here: a portrait from Munich, on the left, in military garb, and then a bust-length portrait in Rome, on the right-hand side of the screen. Domitian was born in A.D. 51. So he was only your age, about nineteen, when Titus went off to the Jewish Wars. There was never any question that Domitian would succeed his brother. Vespasian was in this for the long haul. He created a dynasty and expected both of his sons, first Titus, his older son, and then his younger son, Domitian, to succeed him. So Domitian’s eventual rise to power was never in question. And yet Domitian was jealous of his brother, who was very popular in Rome, as I’ve already mentioned, and who had this great military victory on which the Flavians based their claim to rule. And Domitian was very jealous of his brother. He felt out of the loop, and so when he succeeded Titus–quicker than he thought, because Titus died way before his time, in his thirties, as you know–when Domitian succeeded Titus, he came to power as a very embittered man, and he never got over that bitterness.

And, in fact, what we see Domitian doing is really reverting to the megalomaniacal way of thinking of people like Caligula and Nero, exercising his imperial prerogatives to the fullest and, in fact, even insisting that he be addressed as “lord and god,” dominus et deus; which I’ve put on your Monument List for you, dominus et deus, that’s lord and god. And he, not surprisingly, given his bent, he not surprisingly moved away from the public architecture that Vespasian and Titus had favored–for Vespasian, of course, buildings like the Colosseum, for Titus, the Baths of Titus–the public architecture that had been favored by his father and his brother. He moved back to being interested in building palatial architecture, essentially to his own glory. And we’re going to see that the major monument that he commissioned was the Imperial Palace on the Palatine Hill, that had been begun by Tiberius and Caligula; he completed that palace in the nineties A.D.

Before we get to that, which will be our main focus today, I would like–because it’s extensive and there’s a lot to see–I would like to say a few words about another commission of Domitian, because he wasn’t without the desire to at least build some public buildings, and I’d like to begin with one of those here. This is a model of the so-called Stadium of Domitian, a stadium or a race course, that was put up during Domitian’s reign; we date it usually to the latter part of his reign, 92 to 96 A.D. And you see that model again here. And you can tell a lot about this building from both the scanty remains, but also from other evidence that allows us to be able to reconstruct it relatively accurately. You see it here.

These stadia were hairpin in shape–as you can see, a straight end on one side, a curved end on the other–but long, elongated, a kind of elongated oval with one straight side, as you can see. It was put up in very similar fashion to theaters and to amphitheaters, in that they built a concrete hill and lined that concrete hill with stone seats, and then buttressed it with a wall, as you can see here, that was decorated, just like the Theater of Marcellus, or like the Colosseum, with in this case two tiers of arches, two sets of arcades, with columns in between them, those columns again having no structural purpose whatsoever, just used as decoration for the monument. And then the exits and entrances, again done very similarly to amphitheater or theater architecture, as we’ve discussed it thus far. So the main difference is it’s not quite as tall as amphitheaters, for example, or theaters, and just two tiers of columns, as you can see here. And the main difference in plan is that it’s a hairpin shape, again with one straight side and one curved side.

Only a small–one can see today, and this is essentially underground or what survives of it is underground, although there’s one section that can still be seen, as I’ll show you in a moment. But what’s absolutely miraculous is the fact that the actual hairpin shape of the Stadium of Domitian is preserved, in its entirety, in the shape of one of Rome’s most famous piazzas, and my favorite, by far, the Piazza Navona, which you see from the air here, in a Google Earth image. And you can see again the exact shape: the straight side and the curved side, of Domitian’s Stadium, still preserved in the Piazza Navona in Rome. It’s a wonderful piazza. For those of you who’ve been there, I’m sure you have enjoyed spending time there. For those of you haven’t, it really is a mecca within Rome. And you can see not only is it a pleasant place to walk but also a place to see great buildings, for example, Francesco Borromini’s Sant’Agnese in Agone, and Bernini’s Four Rivers, famous Four Rivers Fountain, in the center of the piazza, in dialogue with one another.

And as we look at this from the air, and we look at the curved end of the Piazza Navona, you can see there’s one street that you can take out of that curved end, one small street. If you take a left, and then a left again, you will see the remains of the Stadium of Domitian; I’m going to show those to you in a moment. And if you stay in the center of the piazza, near the Four Rivers Fountain, and you go sort of diagonally across from that, you will end up at one of the four best ice cream places in Rome; you can get some of the best gelato in Rome. You can get good gelato almost anywhere in Rome, and in Italy, but the very best, this is one of those four; I’ll say something more about that in a moment.

Here are the remains of the Stadium of Domitian that can still be seen. Very few tourists notice this, but it’s well worth looking at, because you can see the brick-faced cement construction that served for the–that was how the substructures of this building were built–and I think you can even see that from a distance here–made out of concrete, faced with brick – but the arcades and the columns, that I showed you before, out of travertine, ashlar masonry travertine, which was one of the last buildings actually in Rome to be made of travertine ashlar masonry. Just to show you also that again–just as when we were in Capri I showed you the Bar Tiberio, and its reference to Tiberius–it’s amazing what those who put up restaurants and bars and so on, around Rome, it’s amazing–it demonstrates the strong sense of history that Italians have. Because just the fact that they recognize that these are remains from the Stadium of Domitian–everyone thinks of this structure as the Piazza Navona–but the fact that they are well aware of the fact that it was Domitian’s Stadium, so that the wine bar across the street–and this is one that was just opened the last couple of years–the wine bar across the street is called the Domiziano: the Domiziano, after Domitian, because it’s right across the street from the Stadium of Domitian.

With regard to ice cream–I take my gelato seriously, and I’m sure all of you who’ve been to Italy feel the same way. It’s not like American ice cream–not that American ice cream isn’t good–but it’s absolutely fantastic. And so I will make some recommendations this semester. And this is the first one that I’m going to make, because it’s one of my favorites, and everyone agrees this is one of the best ice cream parlors in Rome. It’s called Tre Scalini. It’s also a restaurant, a restaurant you can pass on. Like so many restaurants in the center of famous piazzas, it’s not the best, but–and you don’t have to sit outside, although they will try to beckon you to sit outside, because it costs more to eat the ice cream outside than it does if you just walk into–walk through the door–there are actually two doors, one on that side, one on this side–go right up to the counter, take a look at what’s there, and make your order.

And my recommendation for this particular gelateria is the tartufi; they are very famous. This is the best tartufo in Rome, without question, if you like chocolate. It’s a chocolate bomb essentially, as you can see in these images here. It is one big, well fairly large, very rich chocolate, with big, the biggest chocolate chips you ever saw on it, and then they put a dollop–I don’t even like whipped cream, but when it’s panna on top of the tartufo, I go the whole way. So you have the panna on top of the tartufo. And if you sit outside and are willing to pay extra, they’ll throw a pirouette on top; if not, you have to forego the pirouette. But I really highly–whether you like chocolate or you don’t like chocolate–I’ve gone with people who are not the kind of chocoholic I am, who like this anyway. So it’s really a treat, and at least once when you’re in Rome you have to indulge in a tartufo at Tre Scalini.

Chapter 4. Domitian as Dominus et Deus in the Palatine Palace [00:33:11]

I want to move from Domitian’s Stadium to the building that we’re going to concentrate on today, because again it is so extensive, and that is Domitian’s Palace on the Palatine Hill. We usually refer to it as Domitian’s Palace on the Palatine Hill, or the Imperial Palace on the Palatine Hill. But the nomenclature is complex, because in antiquity it was referred to as the Domus, the Domus Augustana–like the Domus Aurea, the Golden House of Nero–the Domus Augustana: Augustus’ House, essentially. Because by this point the word Augustus had become synonymous with emperor; so every emperor was the Augustus. So this is the Domus Augustana, which again continues construction.

We talked about the fact that Tiberius had begun a palace on the Palatine Hill, on the slope of the Palatine Hill that Caligula had added to that. His successors: Claudius was not that interested in palatial architecture, as you’ll remember; Nero had other plans for the Domus Transitoria, and for the Domus Aurea. So it was left to the Flavians, specifically to Domitian, to complete the Imperial Palace, which he does, and then it is dedicated, as you can see from the Monument List, in A.D. 92. We also know the architect of the Domus Augustana, and that was a man by the name of Rabirius, R-a-b-i-r-i-u-s; a very important Roman architect by the name of Rabirius.

To get back to the nomenclature for a moment. So the actual name of the palace was the Domus Augustana. But here’s where it gets complicated. There’s also a public wing of the house and a private wing of the house. The public wing–and you can see it in this Google Earth image from the air–the public wing is on one story–and we see that over here–and that was referred to in ancient times as the Flavian House, the Domus Flavia, the Domus Flavia. The private wing was on two stories, or part of it was on two stories–you can see it here; it’s even larger, more extensive–and that was called, in ancient times, also the Domus Augustana. So this word, the Domus Augustana, referred both to the private wing, as opposed to the Domus Flavia, but also to the palace as a whole. So I just wanted you to be aware of that, because as you do your reading in the textbooks and so on, you might find that a little bit confusing. But we can simplify it completely and just call it the Palace of Domitian on the Palatine Hill, which is what I suggest we do.

So once again we can see quite good [well], in this view from the air, the way in which this Domitianic structure was planned and built. We see over here, for example–and I’m going to show you these in plan, and also the remains shortly–we can see on the upper left what is a basilica; next to that an audience hall; a great fountain court over here; a triclinium or dining room over here; and then fountains on other side that belong to the Domus Flavia or the public section of the palace. And then over here the private area, as I said larger, on two stories, right here, with a court in the center and a whole host of small rooms surrounding that, living quarters and so on, for Domitian and others; a peristyle court; another peristyle court; and then a great sunken stadium over here on the right. This was a far cry from Romulus’ huts, as you see them; Romulus’ village, of the eighth century B.C., that I remind you of over here, and show you what has happened in the interlude.

But what’s extremely important I think, given Domitian’s view of himself as lord and god, as dominus et deus, it’s interesting to see what he builds. And he certainly felt that he was very much in the tradition of Romulus; he wants to associate himself with Romulus, and also, of course, with Augustus, who lived, as you know, on the Palatine Hill. But at the same time he wants to inject his living space with the kind of grandeur that had not been–that was certainly true under Nero in his Domus Aurea, but that had not been true for any of the other earlier Roman emperors. So the Domus Aurea, the impact of the Domus Aurea once again, is something we should think about as we look at this incredible palace.

This is a plan from the Ward-Perkins textbook that perhaps shows you better than the view from the air exactly what this structure was all about. We see the public wing on the left-hand side, the Domus Flavia of the palace on the Palatine Hill. And it includes, as you can see in the upper left corner, a basilica: a basilica, a room with a central space, divided by two side aisles by columns. And that was a basilica that Domitian himself sat in and tried cases in, as the judge. Then, next to that, an audience hall, or an aula, a-u-l-a; that was the place where Domitian met with visiting dignitaries. Then on axis with the–up in the upper right, a lararium, which was a place where they kept household gods and so on–then on axis with the audience hall, the peristyle, the peristyle. And if you look at that in plan, it’s got columns, of course, as peristyles do.

But look at what’s in the center of it. It actually is a fountain, and it is a fountain that is octagonal in shape. So the impact of Nero’s Domus Aurea immediately clear, the impact of that remarkable octagonal room on the architecture of Domitian and on the architect Rabirius: so an octagonal fountain. And then on axis with the aula or audience hall, the peristyle, is the triclinium or dining room of the house: a very large dining room with panoramic windows through which one could see a very interestingly elliptically shaped fountain, one on either side. Now as you look at that plan of the Domus Flavia, and especially at the basilica, the audience hall and the triclinium, there is one feature that all three of those have in common, that I haven’t yet mentioned, which is what? All three of them have what? No one?

Student: A half circle.

Professor Diana E.E. Kleiner: A half circle; okay, exactly, an apse, an apse on one end, and all of those apses face in the same direction. The basilica has an apse; the audience hall has an apse; the triclinium has an apse. Those were Domitian’s apses. That’s where Domitian sat, dominus et deus; he wanted to be honored and, in fact, worshipped, as lord and god, and he needed a space to do it in, and he wanted to sit on a throne, underneath the dome of heaven, in a sense. So the dome of heaven was a vault, made out of concrete and decorated in some way in antiquity, probably with mosaic, or whatever, to give it the sense of a dome of heaven. He wanted to sit in that space in every one of those rooms. So whether he was trying a law case, welcoming visiting dignitaries, or eating in his triclinium, he wanted to sit beneath at least a semi-dome of heaven. And that’s indeed what he did, as he was again worshipped as dominus et deus. So this is a very important, I think, phenomenon in this particular monument, and one that is well worth thinking about, in terms of the way in which architecture is used by given individuals to define themselves, to define their lives, and to define their era.

Over here again the private wing; I’m going to hold on that for a moment and we’ll come back to that shortly. This is a detail of the basilica, where we see the plan of the basilica, and also a cross-section of the same structure. And you can see it is completely in keeping with other basilican architecture we’ve looked at, both in civic locations and elsewhere. A central nave with an apse on one end–again, imagine Domitian sitting over here; the central nave divided from the side aisles by columns, fairly simple but very interesting structure in the context of this particular palace.

Over here an outstanding restored view that probably gives you a better sense than almost anything I can show you of the Domus Flavia or the public space of Domitian’s Palace. Here’s, of course, the basilica over here, and you can see that this room, like all of the rooms in this palace, were done in marble, and that marble was of various colors, as you can see here, and it was marble that was brought from all over the world. We’ve talked about the fact that the Flavians did this. We’ve talked about this as the case for the Templum Pacis, for example, bringing marble from Egypt and Asia Minor and Greece and elsewhere in the Roman world, bringing it all here and using it, using that variegated marble to make–to ornament, obviously, this palace in Rome. Over here the aula or the great audience hall; the Aula Regia we call it, over here, also with the marble on the floor, as well as on the walls. You can see that this particular room–and it was apparent in plan as well–has scalloping around the perimeter of the room: a series of niches, as you can see, with statuary in them, surrounded by columns, two tiers with other windows up above, as you can see. And here you get a sense of that space in which Domitian would have sat: the apse of the room, the curvature of the wall, made, of course, out of concrete–as this entire structure was–made out of concrete, with a semi-dome. And you have to again imagine Domitian sitting beneath that, or inside that apse and beneath that semi-dome here.

The peristyle court, open to the sky; columns all around, covered colonnade, two stories, and then in the center this octagonal fountain. Leave it to Domitian, leave it to Rabirius, to transform Nero’s octagonal room into a fountain, in the context of this palace. And then on axis again, with the Aula Regia, and with the peristyle, is the triclinium. And this restored view again gives you a very good sense of that apse in which Domitian would have sat enthroned, with the semi-dome above his head, two tiers; again, the walls decorated with variegated marbles brought from all different parts of the world; as well as with columns. And then picture windows, through which you would see these very interesting elliptical fountains, as you dined, one on either side of the structure. There’s a lot of controversy as to how the rooms that were roofed, were roofed – whether they had barrel vaults or not. You can see this particular restored view shows one flat roof and one barrel vaulted roof. We’re not absolutely sure about that, and again scholars continue to argue which was the case here.

I mentioned statuary in the Aula Regia, and we have some evidence for what that statuary might have been like, and the way in which it was used by Domitian. I show you two examples. These are two statues, one representing Hercules, on the left, and the other, on the right, representing Apollo. And these are truly colossal in scale, and they are made of beautiful materials, again imported materials – in this case a kind of maroon colored stone, and in this case a greenish colored stone. Again, they’re very large in scale, colossal in scale, and you can see the exaggerated musculature of both of these figures. And I think they are very telling in terms of–as we think about Domitian sitting in rooms like the Aula Regia, greeting visitors, and when you think about what this man, who wanted to be worshipped as lord and god thought of himself, and you see the kind of statuary that he surrounded himself with–this is a very different man than his predecessor Claudius–the kind of imagery that he associated himself with. It’s a way of pumping himself up, I think, by having himself surrounded by these very athletic figures of Hercules and also of Apollo.

Chapter 5. Rabirius’ Architectural Innovations [00:46:14]

What do you think this is, just from looking at it? The remains–you can see the remains are not as extensive as one wishes they were, but enough is there to allow a reconstruction of the whole. What are we looking at here?

Student: The octagonal fountain.

Professor Diana E.E. Kleiner: The octagonal fountain, the octagonal fountain of the peristyle court. Excellent. See it’s really–most people, who wander around these remains, would not be able to figure out for the life of themselves what this was. But you’ll be glad when you go up on the Palatine Hill to know, as you stand here, that this was once an octagonal fountain, with a spectacular water display undoubtedly.

This is the triclinium, or what survives–sad–what survives of Domitian’s triclinium. This is his apse; this is the very apse in which Domitian would have sat enthroned, as he ate with special invited guests, as he held a state dinner in Rome. And you can see, if you look very carefully, again the construction is brick-faced concrete construction. We talked about the fact that after the fire of 64, a decision was made to begin to use brick as a facing, because brick was more fireproof than stone. And we see that borne out; the entire Imperial Palace on the Palatine Hill was made of brick-faced concrete construction. But if you look very carefully, you will see some stucco and you will also see some marble revetment. So, in this case, that brick was covered over with marble, to give it a much more luxurious look for the dominus et deus. Also interesting here–actually there’s a tarp on top of preserved mosaic, and I’ll show you that mosaic in a moment–but what’s interesting here is that the pavement rests on something that should remind you of something we saw earlier in the semester, which is what? You’re nodding, so.

Student: The hypocaust.

Professor Diana E.E. Kleiner: The hypocaust. It’s a hypocaust system; just as we saw in the Stabian Baths in Pompeii, they have raised the pavement up on these piles of brick, and then in between them would have placed terracotta pipes and also braziers with hot, hot coals, and so on and so forth, to heat the floor of the triclinium, so that Domitian could not only sit in his apse, but could have his feet warm while he ate. This gives you again I think a really good window into the kind of man we are dealing with here, and what he was trying to achieve, once again through architecture, through architecture.

This is another view of the apse in which Domitian sat, and here we do see–without the tarp we can see that the mosaic [correction: marble floor] is actually pretty well preserved. And it is the colors that we so often find in Roman mosaics [correction: marble pavements], especially in major public buildings and in private palaces: this combination of green, maroon and white, as you see here, with a variety of very attractive geometric shapes. Again, you can see the concrete construction, faced with brick, and you can see the remains of some of the marble revetment that would have covered the walls and made this all that much more ostentatious in ancient Roman times.

This fountain is a marvel. I love this fountain. This is the fountain that you see, or one of the two that you would see, through the panoramic windows of the triclinium in Domitian’s Palace. And this is where I think the genius of Rabirius shows through; and Rabirius shows, in a sense, himself to be the Frank Gehry of his day – somebody who really enjoyed undulating forms, and the way in which concavity and convexity can be played off against one another, to great result. It’s an elliptical fountain. It’s fairly small in scale. It’s elliptical, as you can see here, and the convexity of that ellipse played off–and you see it repeated again here–played off against these interesting undulating walls; all of this created again out of concrete and faced with brick. So you imagine the bricks have to be very carefully molded to fit where they need to fit into this incredible scheme. And, of course, in antiquity this would have been stuccoed over, and probably had some marble revetment on it, and so on and so forth. But the shape is absolutely marvelous, and I think we are definitely in the presence of a great architectural genius, in the person of Rabirius, who was working for Domitian.

The private wing of the palace, equally spectacular in its own way. I mentioned to you already that it’s larger in the space that it covers than the Domus Flavia. And part of it is on two stories, the part that you see over here. There’s a fountain court in the center, and then two stories of rooms around that; another peristyle back here; and then a stadium, once again a hairpin shape, with a curved side and a flat side, just like his stadium in Rome. But he already had a stadium, a public stadium, where one could watch racehorses and races and the like. He used this instead. And it’s actually sunken–because remember this part is two stories–this is sunken, a sunken stadium next to it. It was used as a place for pleasurable walks, as a kind of outdoor garden where Domitian, and again special visitors, could spend some time, a pleasant place to walk within the city.

We see here another axonometric view from Ward-Perkins, where we can also get a very good sense, not only of the Domus Flavia, as we’ve already described it: the basilica and the aula on one end; the octagonal fountain in the center; and then over here the dining hall with the two elliptical fountains, one on either side. Here we see again the private area with the sunken stadium over here; with the peristyle court with a fountain in the center; two stories around that; and then over here another couple of other peristyle courts. There are actually three peristyle courts in total here. But what’s interesting, I think, when you look at this axonometric view, I think it’s interesting to see that–or a kind of cutaway view–to see that from the outside a lot of these spaces didn’t look as interesting as they did from the inside. We are definitely moving–we’ve seen that be the case for awhile, vis-à-vis Roman architecture. Think back to some of the early residences in Pompeii where they were very plain and severe on the outside, but when you went inside and saw the atrium and the impluvium and the compluvium and the garden, it was something else again; this whole element of surprise. And that’s true even here, I think, in this palace, where the structures are less interesting from the outside and more interesting from the interiors of them.

Here’s a Google Earth image again of just the private part of the palace where we see this interesting peristyle court; the other two peristyle courts behind it; these rooms placed on two stories; and then once again the sunken stadium. The sunken stadium is actually quite well preserved. As you can see here, it’s one of the better preserved parts of the villa today. You can get a very good sense, not only of its shape but also of its scale; it’s enormous, a huge stadium. And again you have to imagine Domitian wandering around here. And you can see the curved end on one side, but most importantly the concrete construction, faced with brick, and including columns and other marble revetment.

This is a view of that first court, the one that has rooms on two stories around it. Once again, Rabirius has had a great deal of fun with his fountain. He seems to have taken particular pleasure in designing fountains and in letting his imagination run free with regard to fountain design. You see here again he’s playing off convex against concave. He’s done all of this out of concrete; these shapes are done in concrete, faced with brick, and again the bricks have to be molded very specially to fit the space within that, that they need to accommodate themselves to. And if any of you know anything about those female warriors called the Amazons, they carry shields called peltas, p-e-l-t-a; these should remind you–don’t they look like peltae? They look very much like–that’s probably coincidental, I’m not implying here that there’s any particular iconography to this particular fountain. But who knows? But they do look very much like shields that are carried by Amazonian women. But at any rate, this playing off of convex against concave; Rabirius is clearly enjoying himself with this monument.

Then the rooms on two stories. And you see, just as we saw quite some time ago in the second phase of the Villa of the Mysteries, where they were beginning to open up the exterior and create bay windows and more windows and make it less severe than it had been in the original domus italica, we see that sort of thing here: many more windows used, the wall being opened up. They’ve gotten so sophisticated in their use of concrete that they are able to open the walls up more, with these rectangular windows of different shapes–as you can see, some large, some smaller, some on the ground, some higher, sort of like windows–and then above additional openings that are arcuated on the top. So clearly he’s again enjoying opening up this wall and creating interesting views, from one part of the structure to another.

Two more images of that wonderful fountain, where I think you can see even better the way in which this has all been done out of concrete, faced with brick. And you have to imagine, of course, the spectacular water display, the actually water jets that would’ve come up. The Bellagio it may not have been, but it probably was something–sort of the ancient version of the Bellagio in Las Vegas, the fountains at the Bellagio. Here you see a restored view of this fountain court, where you get a sense that once you add a bunch of statuary and water jets–which you don’t see actually working here–and paint the walls, the whole thing would’ve been even more spectacular still; and I think that gives you some general sense of the original appearance of the palace.

Around the court, the fountain court, and the private wing that we’ve just looked at, there were a series of rooms, and if you look at some of those rooms in detail, I think you’ll be amazed by what you see; some fantastically shaped rooms: some of them cruciform, cross-shaped; some of them going way back to the frigidaria with circular rooms with radiating alcoves. And not surprisingly, again given what Severus and Celer were able to achieve at Nero’s Domus Aurea, given the fact that the octagon is clearly also in the mind of Rabirius in this building, we see him creating small octagonal rooms, and exploring and experimenting with those octagonal rooms. And you see a couple of them in plan, on the side, on one of the sides of this fountain court.

I show you here a view from, or several views from the Ward-Perkins textbook, where we see a cross-section, a plan, and also an axonometric view of one of these octagonal rooms that we believe was designed by Rabirius for the Palatine Palace. And I compare it down here to the octagonal room of Nero’s Domus Aurea, which was clearly the model for Rabirius’ foray into designing octagons. It’s a much smaller room than Nero’s octagonal room, but he takes the whole concept a step further. It’s an octagon; yes, it’s eight sided, just like the Domus Aurea. It has radiating alcoves. Some of them are rectangular, some of them are circular, as you can see here.

And if you look at the axonometric view, you will see two interesting things that are a step forward. One of them is the fact that although in the Domus Aurea the eight-sided room–although the room was eight-sided, the dome was itself essentially curved; it’s a traditional dome. What we see happening here though is they take the eight sides and continue that segmented feel into the dome. So we have an eight-sided segmented dome in this octagonal room in the Palatine Palace, which is different than the Domus Aurea. And the other thing, and perhaps even more significant, is the fact that if we look at the individual niches, we will see that they are envelopes of space, in the same way that Nero’s Domus Aurea was, and that they have–and just like Nero’s Domus Aurea, they have niches within niches.

But what Rabirius has done here is something really quite extraordinary and very different from anything we’ve seen earlier in Roman architecture, and that is he’s placed some of these additional niches or windows or doorways off axis with the niche itself. Now we have seen that the Romans cared above all about axiality and symmetry, and yet we see here–and this is why I call him the Frank Gehry of Roman architects–he is willing to try something entirely different. He is clearly enamored of circles and rectangles and domes and the like, but he is also willing to dispense with the usual axiality of Roman architecture, and explore placing things off axis in a quite inventive way.

And I can show you that even better by looking quickly at the two views of one of these octagonal rooms, from the private wing of the Palatine Palace, where you can see not only–and I hope you can see it from where you are–you can see not only the segments–can you see the segmented dome? I think quite clearly here. You can see these envelopes of space. You can see these openings; this whole idea of creating vistas from one building to another but–and you can see the way in which these vary, that some are doorways, some are windows–but I think you can also see the way in which he is beginning to place–here’s a window that is placed completely off axis with the niche.

This is even more apparent in this other view, where you can see one of these radiating niches, and in that radiating niche there’s an opening that starts at the floor, and then there’s another opening, to the left of it, that’s higher up. And again you get this sense of asymmetry, rather than symmetry, in this. And this is again very experimental, very different; it really is different than almost anything I can show you, not only before but even after this great work of architecture, and it gives us some insight into the creativity of Rabirius, and the way in which Domitian was allowing him to be. Because I think this goes above and beyond. Clearly Domitian is imaging himself; I think especially in the public realm of this building, he’s very concerned with how he’s presenting himself to his public. Over here I have the sense that he has really let Rabirius be Rabirius; that he’s let Rabirius do what he wanted to do to create an interesting and architecturally exciting space, in which he could live and could enjoy some of the interesting architectural motifs that Rabirius instills in this extraordinary structure.

Chapter 6. The Forum Transitorium and Incipient “Baroque” Architecture [01:02:06]

Now Domitian was succeeded by John Kerry; no, well sort of, in the sense that he was succeeded by a man by the name of Nerva, who looks very much like John Kerry, don’t you think? That’s a coin of Nerva on the left-hand side of the screen. Domitian, by the way–I think I may have forgotten to mention, but he ended up just the way Nero did. He was–well in his case he was actually assassinated; Nero was forced to commit suicide but Domitian was assassinated. He was issued a damnatio memoriae at his death. And he was succeeded by Nerva, Nerva who was appointed by the Senate. The Senate had had it with despots, and they decided the time had come to choose one of their own. And they selected Nerva, who was an elderly and very highly respected member of the Senate. And this was the first time the Senate did this–since Augustus founded the Empire in his reign, the first emperor of Rome–this is the first time that an emperor was appointed by the Senate. And Nerva was a highly respected and pretty level-headed guy, and he was able to bring peace and prosperity back to the Empire. He did not last very long however. He had a very brief reign, and therefore very little time to have an impact on architecture. But again you see him represented on a coin on the left-hand side of the screen.

I’d like to show you one building though; I’d like to end today with one building that was actually begun by Domitian and then completed by Nerva. It began as the so-called Forum Transitorium, under Domitian, and became the Forum of Nerva, under Nerva. In order to do this I need to take you to the general plan of the Imperial Fora in Rome. We’ve looked at this before. You’ll remember the location of the Roman Forum here, and obviously down below: the Forum of Julius Caesar that we’ve already studied; the Forum of Augustus built right next to that, that we’ve also looked at in detail; and then the Forum Pacis, or the Templum Pacis of Vespasian, which we have looked at more recently, and which you’ll recall was built in such a way so that it faced the Forum of Augustus and the Forum of Julius Caesar next door.

I mentioned to you I think already that there was a very large piece of property over here that was–on which stood essentially one of Rome’s Seven Hills, the Quirinal Hill–Q-u-i-r-i-n-a-l; the Quirinal Hill of Rome occupied this area. But it was an area that was being eyed by Domitian. You can see from his palace that he had big plans, and once the palace was coming to fruition, he was thinking again about public architecture and the fact that he would really like to build a forum to rival that of his father, a forum that was bigger than that of his father’s. And he’d like to put it over here, facing his father’s forum, across the Forum of Augustus and the Forum of Julius Caesar. He dreamed those big dreams but he was never able to realize them.

What he did instead was to take this area that was located between the Forum of Vespasian and the Forum of Augustus, the Forum of Julius Caesar; this area that I mentioned to you was called the Argiletum–A-r-g-i-l-e-t-u-m; I think I’ve got it there, the Argiletum. That area was a street that connected the Roman Forum with an area of Rome called the Subura–S-u-b-u-r-a–the Subura, which was a residential area that I mentioned had in it mostly these wooden apartment houses; large numbers of people lived in the Subura. So there was this street, the Argiletum, that attached the two, or connected the two to one another. And Domitian decided to use that as a forum, to himself, that would be placed next to that of his father. And he placed in that forum a temple of his patron goddess Minerva; his patron goddess was Minerva, and he built a temple to honor her, in this location.

Because this forum was like a street and was so narrow, that had an effect on what could be built there; so that you can see, for example, in plan, that while the Forums of Julius Caesar and Augustus, and the Forum Pacis, all had colonnades, covered colonnades in fact, there was no space to build a covered colonnade here. So what they had to do was place the columns very close to the wall and not put any ceiling on top of those columns. You can see the same here. This is a plan of the original Forum of Domitian, or what was called the Forum Transitorium, because it served as a point of transit between the Subura and the Roman Forum. The Temple of Minerva over here, consistent with temple architecture as we’ve seen it thus far this semester: a temple with a frontal orientation, single staircase, façade orientation, freestanding columns in the porch, and so on. The entranceway over here. The Forum Pacis would be here. The Forum of Caesar and Augustus at the top. And then you can see these bases for the columns, very close to the wall – not attached to it, but very close to the wall on either side, because there’s no space for colonnades.

Here’s a Google Earth image showing the Imperial Fora, as it looks today, part of the later Forum of Trajan, the Forum of Augustus, and what is preserved of the so-called Forum Transitorium over here. This is a model of what the Forum Transitorium would have looked like in ancient Roman times, in the time of Domitian, with the Temple of Minerva, with these columns on either side. And you can see from this model the difference that that makes, when you don’t have enough space to build covered colonnades. You’ve got columns that look like they are projecting out of the wall, with projecting entablatures on top of them. We have not seen this before in built architecture. This is a very important development. We have seen it in painting but we haven’t seen it in built architecture. Here’s a detail of the Forum Transitorium, with these columns placed almost flush with the wall–although not quite, they project a little bit in front of the wall–with the projecting entablatures.

The walls made out of tufa blocks, as you can see here. The rest with marble, and a panel at the top; and we think there would’ve been lots of such panels representing the goddess Minerva herself. So we see that here. We have not seen it in built architecture before, but we have seen it in painting. This is a detail of Cubiculum 16, in the Villa of the Mysteries, and you can see one such set of columns that project out of the wall, with the projecting entablatures up above. So it’s something again that we think may have been done in temporary wooden architecture, for example. But keep in mind how early that painting is–you all know the date of it, because you’ve studied it for the exam; it’s mid [first-century] B.C. So it’s way before even the Augustan period, and yet we see that there, and now we finally see it in built architecture, and it’s going to have a real history in Roman architecture in a very different way than concrete does. This whole idea of decorating a wall by placing a series of columns that project in and out along that wall, giving it a kind of–using the traditional language of architecture, columns, to create a kind of undulating wall, or what we’re going to call later in the semester a “baroque” wall.

Two details of one of the surviving capitals, with the frieze up above, a frieze that represents scenes of women weaving; I’m not going to get into the meaning of all of that here today. But you can see the way in which the columns project somewhat out of the wall: Corinthian capitals, projecting entablature, very highly decorated, just like all of Flavian architectural ornament, as you can see here, very deeply drilled, and so on and so forth. But this whole idea of decorating a wall in this way, and instilling movement in that wall by this undulating in-and-out scheme, is going to again have a very important future in Roman architecture.

This is an interesting view because it shows us just what we’ve looked at, some of those remaining columns from the so-called Forum Transitorium, which was renamed the Forum of Nero [correction: Nerva] after Domitian’s death and damnatio memoriae. Nero [correction: Nerva] just took it over and said, “Okay, it’s my forum now” and renamed it to himself, but didn’t add anything architecturally to it. We see it here. And this is one of those great views in which you can see the difference between modern ground level and ancient ground level. In order to see the lower part of the forum, you’ve got to go right up to the edge of the street and look down on it.

And this also an interesting engraving by the famous artist Piranesi, a Piranesi print of the eighteenth century. He did a lot of wonderful prints. And if there’s any interest in this class, by the way, we have plenty of these at Yale, and I know one of the teaching fellows, if not more than one, would be more than happy to find the time to take those of you who might be interested in looking at Piranesi prints of Rome, over to the British Art Center and so on, or elsewhere, to take a look at these. But what’s interesting about this one is it shows where the ground level was at the time that this was engraved by Piranesi; that is, in the eighteenth century, it was pretty much where it is here. It was much higher than it is now, and then when they excavated it, in modern times, they got us down to ancient ground level and to the bottoms of the columns.

I want to end up with this one last image, because–very different, very different–but it allows us to continue on with a point that I made when we discussed the Colosseum, and which has already turned up in the online forum, and that is the use of Roman buildings as quarries for later architects and later patrons, namely princes and popes, and the way in which buildings like the Colosseum were pirated for later architecture. In the case of the Forum Transitorium, or the Forum of Nerva, we know that the Temple of Minerva, that the material out of which it’s made–the reason that it does not exist at all today, the Temple of Minerva, is that it was taken apart and reused by Pope Paul V for a fountain that he wanted to build on the Janiculum Hill in Rome, the so-called Acqua Paola, which you see here.

The Acqua Paola, the temple was torn down in 1606–it still stood in 1606, it was torn down then–and it was placed in this fountain, or used for the construction of this fountain, that was dedicated in 1612, and built by the architect Giovanni Fontana. And you see it here. And it’s not easy to determine exactly which parts are from the temple itself. But much of the building stone that you see here, reused in this fountain, comes from the Temple of Minerva in Rome. So it shows you again the way in which these buildings were used as quarries. But the way in which Roman buildings live on – they either live on as themselves, or they live on as other buildings. And I think that’s a nice thought and a nice note on which to end today. Thank you.

[end of transcript]

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