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Roman Architecture

Architecture that was distinctively Roman did not begin to emerge until the first century BC and only reached full development at the time of Augustus one century later. Because Rome was formed from interactions with many different Italian groups and because the Roman Empire took in so much area and so many different peoples, Roman culture was not homogeneous. Nearly every aspect of its culture was heavily influenced by other Italians (particularly the Etruscans), Greeks, and peoples of the Near East and Europe. Pollitt divides the long developmental period of Roman art and architecture into three phases. The first two were the Etruscan phase (seventh and sixth centuries BC) and the Italic phase (which corresponded with the beginning of the Republic and occupied the next two centuries). The third period was the Greek phase "dating to the third and second centuries BC and coinciding with Rome's expansion into and domination of the Hellenistic world."

In architecture, the Greek influence continued throughout the first century and was the model that was often invoked during the Augustan era, when Greek art offered "a language of forms" that reflected Augustus' vision of Rome "as a new Athens". The last important revival of the Greek tradition occurred during the second century AD in the peaceful reign of Hadrian for whom the Greek style signified an age when "love of beauty and the pursuit of understanding were valued more highly than the struggle for power."

Though mistaken beliefs about the Greek past, such as Hadrian professed, were radical idealizations, the Romans clung to the notion that Athens had been an ideal civilization. Only with such beliefs could the Romans formulate the plans whereby they were to revive and surpass the previous heights achieved by humanity. Yet even while they took an idealized view of Greek achievement and style, the Romans were eminently practical and were going about the task of surpass...

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Roman Architecture. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:03, December 06, 2021, from