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Roman Architecture

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



Roman Architecture. Roman architecture possessed no originality of any value; it was founded on copies of the Greek models, and these were modified to suit circumstances and tastes. The number of orders was augmented by the addition of the Tuscan and Composite.

Tuscan Order. This order is not unlike the Doric, and is chaste and elegant. The shaft had a simple base, ornamented with one torus, and an astragal below the capital. The proportions were seven diameters in height. Its entablature, somewhat like the Ionic, consisted of plain running surfaces.

The Composite Order. Of this there were various kinds, differing less or more either in the ornaments of the column or in the entablature. The simplest of this hybrid order was that which combines parts and pro-portions of the Doric, the Ionic, and the Tuscan.

The temples of the Romans sometimes resembled those of the Greeks, but often differed from them. The Pantheon, which is the most perfectly preserved temple of the Augustan age, is a circular building, lighted only from an aperture in the dome, and having a Corinthian portico in front. The amphitheater differed from the theater, in being a completely circular or rather elliptical building, filled on all sides with ascending seats for spectators, and leaving only the central space, called the arena, for the combatants and public shows. The Coliseum is a stupendous structure of this kind. The aqueducts were stone canals, supported on massive arcades, and conveying large streams of water for the supply of cities. The triumphal arches were commonly solid oblong structures ornamented with sculptures, and open with lofty arches for passengers below. The edifice of this kind most entire in the present day is the triumphal arch of Constantine, at Rome.

The basilica of the Romans was a hall of justice, used also as an exchange or place of meeting for merchants. It was lined on the inside with colonnades of two stories, or with two tiers of columns, one over the other. The earliest Christian churches at Rome were some-times called basilica, from their possessing an internal colonnade. The monumental pillars were towers in the shape of a column on a pedestal, bearing a statue on the summit, which was approached by a spiral staircase within. Sometimes, however, the column was solid. The thermae, or baths, were vast structures, in which multitudes of people could bathe at once. They were supplied with warm and cold water and fitted up with numerous rooms for purposes of exercise and recreation.



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