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DEFINE PROPAGANDA. What is the propagandistic message of this artwork? How is this message visually communicated. Roman Government and Art Context Review. Appropriation: “Captive Greece made Rome Captive” Pragmatism: Where the greatest good and popular opinion established the standard of art

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define propaganda


What is the propagandistic message of this artwork? How is this message visually communicated

roman government and art context review
Roman Government and Art Context Review
  • Appropriation: “Captive Greece made Rome Captive”
  • Pragmatism: Where the greatest good and popular opinion established the standard of art
  • Propaganda: Power and authority of the Republican and Imperial rulers / empires
  • Utilitarianism: engineering, road building, public works to manage government and Empire
  • Eclecticism: A tolerant and open-minded approach to differences
  • Engineering: New technological innovations in building including arch, vault, dome and concrete
four roman contributions to architecture
Four Roman Contributions to Architecture
  • Building for use – a shift from religious building to engineering for practical/public use, problems and entertainment
  • Developing the arch and vault – increase in scale
  • Emphasis in verticality – made possible by use of concrete, multi-use facilities like the forum market place
  • Design of significant interiors – Romans treated the play between light and space as significant architectural elements


Cross Vault


Barrel Vault


the pantheon
The Pantheon

What are the facts? (F)

Architect: NA

Patron: Emperor Hadrian

Title: The Pantheon

Date: 120 CE

Period/Style: High Empire

Size: Monumental

Findspot: Rome


There is very little ancient commentary on the Pantheon

  • No one knows who designed it or why Hadian had the bronze lettering placed on it recognizing Agrippa as the builder of an earlier temple on the site
  • No one knows what sculptural work actually filled the niches – usually assigned to planetary deities
  • Pediment sculptures are completely lost and we don’t know what the forecourt looked like or how it affected how people approached the building
  • We do not know the exact function of the building

This building is nearly 2,000 years old and has gone through significant changes. What types of changes do you think occurred to the building that have stripped it from its original context?

  • It became Santa Maria della Rotund in 609 CE. Scultpures of the new faith replaced the old
the pantheon group discussion 5 minutes
The Pantheon: Group Discussion 5 Minutes

Group 1: Discuss questions 1, 2 and 3

Group 2: Discuss questions 4 and 5

Group 3: Discuss questions 6 and 7

who was hadrian
Who was Hadrian?
  • Chosen successor of Trajan
  • A fellow Spaniard
  • Lover or art
  • Traveled to Greece – his portrait is reminiscent of Pericles – a classical depiction of a mature bearded man
  • We see his interest of Greek architecture reflected in the Pantheon but also a departure
what type of floor plan is the pantheon
What type of floor plan is the Pantheon
  • CENTRALIZED – based upon the circle
  • Single, unified and uninterrupted space with niches for sculpture
  • This type of plan was not new to Romans – it was used for their public baths and Nero’s Golden house
  • The proprtions of the Pantheon are “harmonic” – echoing Plato’s idea of the harmony of the universe


what is the structure or engineering system
What is the structure or engineering system?
  • A poured concrete rotunda
  • Based upon intersection of a vertical and horizontal circle
  • A drum and dome supported by relieving arches imbedded in thick walls serving as a buttressing system
  • Weight lessened by the coffers and decreasing size of the dome shell as it rises


Cross Vault


Barrel Vault


how did one enter the building
How did one enter the building?
  • A colonnaded courtyard would have led the Romans into the portico, from which the ascended steps into the once elevated building
describe the interior space
Describe the interior space

The vast interior space can be imagined as the orb of the earth and the dome as the vault of the heavens

Divided into 3 levels:

1st level is defined by columns and niches – vertical columns fasten us to the ground

2nd level is the drum – it’s solidity upholds the dome of the heavens. Square windows lessen it’s solidity

3rd level the dome and oculus – the coffered pattern, decreasing in size, leads the eye to the oculus which lets in dramatic light. The decreasing size also make the dome feel lighter

The floor is patterned with squares. The overall scheme is a harmonious integration of circles and squares

how is the interior embellished or decorated
How is the interior embellished or decorated?
  • Marble interior. Exterior rotunda originally covered in marble
  • Bronze stars would have originally adorned each coffer – likening it to a heavenly sky
  • The lighting from the oculus, which would have illuminated the the 7 planetary deities like a heavenly searchlight adds a dramatic flare that embellishes interior space
how does one move around the interior space
How does one move around the interior space
  • CIRCUMBULATION: Circulate the vast interior space – niche to niche
  • Uninterrupted circular path is a Roman invention
  • Circular shape and use of natural light from the open oculus Encloses people without imprisoning them
what is the function of this building how do the visual qualities convey this function
What is the function of this building? How do the visual qualities convey this function?

RELIGIOUS FUNCTION: The universal sphere (the earth) is connected to the cosmos beyond by a perfect circular oculus Dome is an image of the cosmos for contemplation. IDEAL WORLD ORDER: Organized, unified and harmonious like government

GOVERNMENT FUNCTION: Space for Roman Senate Meeting – symbolic of meeting in harmony. Emporer would have ruled religion and state. It is suggested that the portico would have had a sculpture of Augustus and the interior sculpture would have included a statues of Julius Caesar

hw questions
  • In what way do the visual qualities of the building reflect the culture’s social, religious and /or political values of the time, or the chief concerns of this time?