'Behold this foot and gauge the greatness of the empire of Rome' (PEDEM VIDE ET ROMANAE REI MAGNITVDINEM METIRE), so proclaims the inscription on the pedestal. The colossal foot in question, which was once part of a statue of Emperor Constantine the Great (r. 306-337), is on display in the courtyard of Palazzo dei Conservatori.
The inscription, which dates back to the 16th century, wrongly attributes the foot to a colossal statue of Apollo from Apollonia which, according to Pliny the Elder, was transported to Rome by Marcus Licinius Lucullus, following a military campaign in Thrace. The foot actually belonged to an equally colossal statue of the Emperor Constantine, which once graced the Basilica Maxentius in the Forum.
Constantine's other foot, head, arm and hand, which were unearthed in the basilica at the end of the 15th century, are also on display in the courtyard.
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 walking tours of Rome.
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