The Arch of Constantine was dedicated on July 25th, 315, to commemorate the victory of the emperor Constantine the Great (r. 306-337) over his co-emperor, Maxentius (r. 306-312), at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge (October 28th, 312).
The arch incorporated statues and reliefs recycled from older monuments, a practice known as spolia. We see sculptures taken from monuments to emperors Trajan (r. 98-117), Hadrian (r. 117-138) and Marcus Aurelius (r. 161-180).
The double inscription proclaims:
IMP CAES FL CONSTANTINO MAXIMO
P F AUGUSTO SPQR
QUOD INSTINCTU DIVINITATIS MENTIS
MAGNITUDINE CUM EXERCITU SUO
TAM DE TYRANNO QUAM DE OMNI EIUS
FACTIONE UNO TEMPORE IUSTIS
REM PUBLICAM ULTUS EST ARMIS
ARCUM TRIUMPHIS INSIGNEM DICAVIT
'The Senate and People of Rome dedicated this arch/To the emperor Caesar Flavius Constantinus Maximus Pius Felix Augustus/For having with his army, by divine inspiration and his own great spirit/Avenged the State with righteous arms Against both the tyrant and his entire faction'.
The Arch of Constantine, the largest triumphal arch to survive, spans what was once the Via Triumphalis, the route taken by victorious generals when celebrating a triumph.
Blogging about Rome:
its art, history and culture.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
small-group walking tours
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