Trajan's Column

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The Roman Empire

About the time of Trajan

Art and Architecture

Right: Trajan's Column
(Erik Wilson)

The Roman Empire dominated the lands about the Mediterranean Sea, and reached its greatest extent under the emperor Trajan (98-113 CE) and his successor Hadrian. With many cultures brought together under one rule, there was trade and travel thoughout all parts of the Empire. Trajan himself was also the first non-Italian to become Emperor.

aqueduct

Above: Aqueduct (Phil Kostka)

The Romans were both conquerors and builders. They built aqueducts all over Italy to bring water to the city of Rome, and built roads to carry soldiers, letters, and trade.

More avowedly practical than the Greeks, the Romans nevertheless were very superstitious.

The wealthy hired the best Greek teachers for their children, and brought the art and artists of conquered lands back to Rome. Trajan appointed a learned man, Quintilian, to make sure that the upper class Roman children studied the art of rhetoric, and the ideas that would make them proper Romans.

About this time, two influential Romans declared their people's distinctive style of expression:

'Just compare the vital, massive piles of our countless aqeuducts with the Pyramids which serve no purpose, or with the useless, yet universally renowned works of the Greeks.'

Sextus Iulus Frontinus, 97 CE

'We cannot be so elegant; let us be more forceful.'

Quintilian

Left: Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia
(Erik Olson)


The Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia was built at the end of the Roman Republic during a time of civil war. Its parts are styled after Greek temples, but as a whole it is grander and more regimented than any Greek example.



Go to Daily Life in the Roman Empire


Notes:
1. Onians, John, in Henig, Martin. Architecture and Architectural Sculpture in the Roman Empire.