1-20 of 20 results  for:

  • Ancient Rome x
  • Medieval Art x
Clear all


Franz Rickert

Roman and Early Christian city at the east end of the plain of the Veneto, c. 90 km north-east of Venice and 5 km from the Adriatic coast. Founded as a Roman colony in 181 bc, it received full town status in 89 bc and became the regional capital of Venetia et Histria. It was strategically sited on the River Natissa, which was navigable to the sea, and at the intersection of routes leading north-west over the Alps and north-east to the Balkans. Written sources indicate that several emperors, including Constantine the Great, had a residence in Aquileia; from ad 294 to the 5th century it also had its own mint. In 313 it became a bishopric and in 381 it was the venue of a council before which followers of Arianism were tried. Civil wars and the invasions of the Huns (452) and the Lombards (568) led to the migration of most of the population and the transference of the see to Grado....


Sophie Page

Astrology is the art of predicting events on earth as well as human character and disposition from the movements of the planets and fixed stars. Medieval astrology encompassed both general concepts of celestial influence, and the technical art of making predictions with horoscopes, symbolic maps of the heavens at particular moments and places constructed from astronomical information. The scientific foundations of the art were developed in ancient Greece, largely lost in early medieval Europe and recovered by the Latin West from Arabic sources in the 12th and 13th centuries. Late medieval astrological images were successfully Christianized and were adapted to particular contexts, acquired local meanings and changed over time.

Astrology developed into a scientific branch of learning in ancient Greece, but because of the opposition of the Church Fathers it was transmitted to early medieval Europe in only fragmentary form in technically unsophisticated textbooks and popular divinatory genres. Literary and scientific texts provided more general ideas about the nature and attributes of the planets which were influential on later iconography. The first significant astrological images appear in 11th-century illustrated astronomical texts (e.g. London, BL, Cotton MS. Tiberius BV), which were acquired and produced by monasteries to aid with time-keeping and the construction of the Christian calendar....


Charles Buchanan

Type of large-format Bible, usually found in pandect (single-volume) form, produced in central Italy and Tuscany from around 1060 to the middle of the 12th century. They came out of the efforts of a reformist papacy intent on wresting control over ecclesiastical investiture from the Holy Roman Emperor. The Giant Bibles were produced in reformed canonries and monasteries and then exported to the same, not only in Italy but throughout Europe.

The term ‘Atlantic’ (from the mythological giant Atlas) is derived from their impressive size; dimensions range from 550 to 600 mms by 300 to 400 mms. Their script, derived from Caroline minuscule, is placed in two columns of around fifty-five lines. The texts are decorated with two initial types, which Edward B. Garrison designated as ‘geometrical’ and ‘full shaft’, both of which are derived from Carolingian and Ottonian exemplars, respectively. The iconography consists of full-length prophets, patriarchs, kings and saints as well as narrative scenes. The last are at times found as full-page cyclical illuminations and preface important textual divisions, especially Genesis. The iconography of the Giant Bibles is a specific Roman iconographical recension with its sources based in part on Early Christian pictorial cycles, such as the wall paintings of Old St Peter’s in Rome. These came from an era considered by the reformers to have been uncorrupted by the abuses that afflicted the Church when these Bibles were being made. While the Giant Bibles were promulgated by the Church of Rome as a symbol of its supreme authority, they also allowed the clergy to perform the liturgy, and the Divine Office in particular, properly....


Kirk Ambrose

(b Moscow, May 7, 1903; d Paris, Jan 25, 1988).

Lithuanian art historian, scholar of folklore and Egyptology, and diplomat of Russian birth. Son of the celebrated Lithuanian Symbolist poet of the same name, Jurgis Baltrušaitis II studied under Henri(-Joseph) Focillon at the Sorbonne and earned the PhD in 1931. The concerns of his mentor are evident in La stylistique ornementale dans la sculpture romane (1931), which reprises and extends arguments for the ‘law of the frame’ in Romanesque sculpture. Accordingly, the shapes of architectural members, such as capitals and tympana, determined the articulation of sculptural forms. This theory could account for the genesis of a wide array of monumental carvings, from foliate capitals to narrative reliefs, but ultimately it had a rather limited impact on the field of Romanesque sculptural studies. In a scathing critique, Schapiro argued that Baltrušaitis’s book—and by implication Focillon’s methods—robbed Romanesque sculptors of agency and neglected the religious and expressive meanings of this art form....



Srdjan Djurić

[Bitola; Herakleia Lynkestis; Turk. Manastir, Monastir]

Town on the Pelagonian plain in the Republic of Macedonia, at the foot of Mt Pelister. The ancient city of Herakleia Lynkestis, strategically situated on the River Siva Reka, 3 km south of Bitolj, was probably founded by Philip II of Macedon (reg 359–336 bc). Under Roman rule from 148 bc, it became a major military and commercial centre on the Via Egnatia and continued to flourish throughout the early Byzantine period until the settlement of the Slavs in the late 6th century ad. In the 5th and 6th centuries Herakleia was also an important ecclesiastical see. The site was excavated in 1935–8 and 1957–80, and 14 early Byzantine mosaic floors were uncovered. The sculptural and archaeological finds from the site are kept in Bitolj (Archaeol. Mus.), Skopje (Archaeol. Mus. Macedonia) and Belgrade (N. Mus.).

Only the western part of the site has been explored, revealing six buildings, including the Roman theatre (2nd century ...


Carmela Vircillo Franklin

(b Berlin, Aug 18, 1911; d Cambridge, MA, Sept 6, 2006).

German historian of antiquity and the Middle Ages, active also in Italy and America. Bloch was trained at the University of Berlin under the historian of ancient Greece Werner Jaeger, art historian Gerhart Rodenwaldt and medievalist Erich Caspar from 1930 until 1933, when the rise of National Socialism convinced him to move to Rome. There he received his tesi di laurea in ancient history in 1935 and his diploma di perfezionamento in 1937. He then participated in the excavations at Ostia, Rome’s ancient port, which was an important site in the revival of Italian archaeology under Fascism. At the outbreak of World War II, he immigrated to the USA, and began his teaching career in 1941 at Harvard University’s Department of Classics, where he remained until his retirement in 1982. His experience of totalitarianism shaped both his personal and professional beliefs.

Bloch applied a deep knowledge of epigraphy, history and material culture, art history, literary and archival sources to his research and he had a propensity for uncovering the significance of new or neglected evidence. One such area was Roman history. His first publications, on ancient Rome’s brick stamps (many of which he discovered ...



T. F. C. Blagg

[It. Butrinto; anc. Gr. Bouthroton; Lat. Buthrotum]

Site in southern Albania, set on a hill beside a coastal lagoon connected to the sea by a natural channel. The city flourished in Greek, Roman, and Byzantine times. Excavation and display of its extensive and deserted remains, begun by the Italians in 1928, have been continued by Albanian archaeologists; finds are displayed in the site museum (renovated 1988) and in the National Historical Museum, Tiranë. It was probably a colony of Kerkyra (Corfu), from which its site is visible. Earliest occupation on the hilltop is shown by Corinthian pottery of the 7th–6th centuries bc and a wall of polygonal masonry, rebuilt in the 5th century bc. By the following century the expanding city required new walls, which survive up to 9 m high and include the Lion Gate, named after the Archaic relief reused as its lintel (6th century bc). Butrint became a centre for the surrounding Epirot people, the ...


Charles Murray

[Flavius Valerius Constantinus]

(b Naïssus [now Nish, Serbia], c. ad 285; reg 306–37; d Constantinople, 337).

Roman emperor and patron. He was the son of Constantius Chlorus (reg 293–306) and Helena (c. 248/9–328/9) and succeeded his father as Co-Emperor in ad 306. Six years later he defeated his rival Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge outside Rome and became sole ruler in the West. In 313, with Licinius (reg 307–24), the Eastern Emperor, he published the Edict of Milan, which openly favoured Christianity. He defeated Licinius at the Battle of Chrysopolis in 324 and united the Empire under his control. Artistic and literary sources during his reign show an imperial policy dominated by the newly authorized religion, and new artistic values gradually transformed public art into a more fully recognizable Christian form. He believed that his military successes were attributable to the Christian God, whose sign of the Cross had appeared to him, superimposed on the sun, at the Milvian Bridge. In the final battle he ordered the monogram of Christ to be painted on his soldiers’ shields, thus establishing the cross and the chi-rho in later iconography. His victory was commemorated in 315 with the construction of a triumphal arch in the Roman Forum....


Malcolm A. R. Colledge, Joseph Gutmann and Andrew R. Seager

[now Qal‛at as Sāliḩīyah.]

Site of a Hellenistic and Roman walled city in eastern Syria, on a plateau between two gorges on the west bank of the middle Euphrates. The name combines elements that are Semitic (Dura) and Macedonian Greek (Europos). Dura Europos was founded by the Seleucids in the late 4th century bc at the intersection of east–west caravan routes and the trade route along the Euphrates. It was later a frontier fortress of the Parthian empire and after its capture in ad 165 fulfilled the same role for the Roman empire. After the Sasanian siege in ad 256–7 the city was abandoned. The results of excavations by French and American archaeologists in the 1920s and 1930s threw light on the process of synthesis between Classical and indigenous populations and cultures in Syria-Palestine during Hellenistic and Imperial Roman times. The excavated remains include a synagogue (see §3) with an important cycle of biblical paintings and an Early Christian meeting-house (...


Charles T. Little

(b Berlin, March 5, 1924; d London, May 19, 2003).

German curator and art historian of medieval art, active also in England. Born in Berlin, Lasko arrived in London in 1937 as a refugee from Nazi Germany. His first teacher was Professor Nikolaus Pevsner at Birkbeck College at the University of London. After continuing his studies at the Courtauld Institute, Lasko was appointed in 1950 as an Assistant Keeper at the British Museum in the Department of Medieval and Later Antiquities, a post he held until 1965. This position launched his interest in metalwork and ivories, which ultimately matured into his volume for the Pelican History of Art devoted to Ars Sacra: 800–1200. This volume was enriched by his involvement in a number of the Council of Europe exhibitions: Romanesque in Barcelona, European Art around 1400 in Vienna, Byzantine Art in Athens and Charlemagne in Aachen.

In 1965, Lasko became the founding Dean of Fine Arts and Music at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. As a brilliant administrator, he secured the gift of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts designed by Norman Forster. With his long time friend, George Zarnecki, he established the Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland. Possessing a ...


M. Rautmann and Mark Whittow

Greek site in eastern Macedonia overlooking the plain to the east of Mt Pangaios. Originally a Thasian settlement known as Krenides, Philippi received its name on its capture by Philip II of Macedon in 357/356 bc. The Hellenistic city is known only from isolated fragments, including several tombs and a temple; almost all of Philippi’s visible remains date from the Roman and Early Christian periods. Philippi was the first city in Europe where Christianity was preached by St Paul (Acts xvi:8–40). Excavations at the site have been conducted by the French School since the 1920s.

M. Rautmann

The urban plan belongs to that of a Roman military colony; in this form Octavian (reg as Augustus 30 bcad 14) refounded the city in 42 bc to commemorate his victory over Brutus and Cassius on the nearby plain. The key to the city’s prosperity was its location on the Via Egnatia, the course of which underlies the modern highway that bisects the site. Along the south side of this central axis lies the forum, replanned apparently between ...


L. James

(b Constantinople, c. ad 388 or 393; d Rome, 450).

Late Roman empress and patron. She was the daughter of Theodosius I the Great and half-sister to the Emperor Honorius (reg 395–425). She was brought up in Constantinople and Rome, from where she was taken hostage by the Visigoths during the sack of 410, and was married to their leader Athaulf in 414. On his death the following year, she was returned to her own people and in 417 reluctantly married her brother’s Master of Armies, who was to become Constantius III (reg 421). After quarrelling with Honorius, she fled to Constantinople, but on his death her son Valentinian III (reg 425–55) was installed as Emperor in the West by the eastern armies. At first her influence was dominant, but she was unable to stop the increasing power of Aetius (c. 391–454), and by 438 she had been forced into virtual retirement.

Placidia’s building works reflect the piety she apparently gained while in exile in Constantinople. In Rome she commissioned the mosaics in S Paolo fuori le mura, of which only one piece survives, though much restored, above the triumphal arch. Her preference, however, was for the new court city at Ravenna, which she adorned with several ecclesiastical buildings. One building to have survived intact is the so-called Mausoleum of Galla Placidia (...


R. L. P. Milburn

(Aurelius Clemens)

(b ?Saragossa, ad 348; d c. ad 410).

Spanish writer. Born into an élite family, he gave up a successful career in the civil administration to devote himself to the dissemination of Christian doctrine through his Latin Christian poetry and hymns. His verse is modelled on that of Virgil, Horace, and other Classical poets and shows a command of various metres; he is often acclaimed as the chief Christian poet of the early period. Loyalty to the Church, however, failed to quench his admiration for ancient Rome or an awareness of beauty in pagan art forms.

His Peristephanon, a series of lyrics inspired by veneration for the martyrs of Spain and Rome, offers valuable descriptions of Roman catacombs and churches (e.g. St Peter, S Paolo fuori le mura, the basilica near the grave of Hippolytus, and the Lateran baptistery) together with their marbles, painting, and mosaics. The theme of his Psychomachia is the contest between Christianity and pagan beliefs: it became an important source for the medieval art form of Allegory, in which vigorous personifications of the Seven Cardinal Virtues are described (and often portrayed) in combat with the Vices for mastery over the human soul....


( Rome )

Fourth-century basilica on the Via Urbana, which corresponds to the ancient street, the Vicus Patricius, on the Viminal Hill in Rome. It was built by Pope Pius I (reg c. 140–c. 155) in AD 145 over the former residence of the Roman senator Pudens, allegedly to honour St Peter who had stayed there sometime in the 1st century. The church was dedicated to St Pudentiana, daughter of Pudens. The early history of S Pudenziana is fragmentary, although there is evidence of clergy and a congregation on the site by the 4th century.

Significant building took place under Pope Siricius (reg 384–99); he reused part of the original bath complex, which forms the core of the present church. In the nave, seven arcades of Roman columns are part of the original structure. The apse mosaic dates from 390 and depicts an early figural representation of Christ. He sits on a throne flanked by apostles dressed as Roman Senators and personifications of Ecclesia and Synagoga. Above these figures is a jewelled cross flanked by the earliest known representations of the animal emblems of the Evangelists, and buildings representing Jerusalem and Golgotha....


[Lat. Sirmio]

Peninsula situated at the southern end of Lake Garda, in northern Italy; also the name of the main town at the tip of the promontory. The Romans established an important mansio or station here, between Brescia (Brixia) and Verona, along the imperial route that linked the eastern part of the Empire with the west. From about the 1st century bc Sirmione became popular as a holiday resort for wealthy Romans from Brescia and Verona. At the tip of the peninsula stand the ruins of a Roman villa known as the Grotte di Catullo and mistakenly associated with the poet Catullus (c. 84–c. 54 bc), though he is known to have stayed in Sirmione and praised it in his writing. One of the largest extant Roman villas in northern Italy, it was most likely constructed in the 1st century bc and enlarged in the following century. Fragments of stucco, frescoes, and inscriptions found in the vicinity are conserved in the Antiquarium. The extensive villa complex includes residential quarters, baths, dry storerooms, courtyards, and granaries. In the late Roman and Byzantine periods Sirmione was an important military stronghold and was fortified, almost certainly in the 4th century (when the Christian Church became organized in the area); remains of these fortifications run the length of the peninsula and include the ruins of several towers. The Lombards conquered in ...


Barbara Zeitler

(elected 432; d Rome, Aug 19, 440).

Pope and patron. His building programme formed part of a wider campaign to identify the papacy with St Peter and the Church with Rome and its Classical tradition. This identification is best represented by the basilical church of S Maria Maggiore (see Rome, §V, 20), which was completed during Sixtus’s reign. It was endowed with many precious furnishings, and its mosaics form the earliest surviving large-scale cycle of biblical scenes in Rome. The revival of Classical styles is also evident in Sixtus’s partial remodelling of the Lateran Baptistery (see Rome, §V, 15(iii)), which emulated the 4th-century church of S Constanza (see Rome, §V, 18) and was lavishly decorated with porphyry and marble revetment and with inlay work.

R. Krautheimer: ‘The Architecture of Sixtus III: A Fifth-century Renaissance?’, Essays in Honor of E. Panofsky, ed. M. Meiss (New York, 1961), pp. 291–302 G. Matthiae: Pittura romana del medioevo...


In its most general sense, spolia (pl., from Lat. spolium: ‘plunder’) denotes all artifacts re-employed in secondary contexts, from building blocks reused in a wall to pagan gems mounted on a Christian reliquary. It is a matter of debate whether this broad application of the term is justified, or whether it should be restricted to the relatively small subset of reused objects that were taken or ‘stripped’ (like spoils) from their original context, rather than found, purchased, inherited or otherwise acquired by non-violent means. It is likewise debated when the use of spolia should be considered meaningful, if at all. Arnold Esch defined five possible motives for using spolia: convenience, profanation, Christianization, political legitimation and aesthetic attraction. Michael Greenhalgh has argued for reducing the motives to three (at least with regard to marble): pragmatism, aesthetics and ideology; while Finbarr Barry Flood cautioned against reductive interpretations generated by any taxonomy, insisting that reused objects are mutable in meaning and capable of multiple interpretations during their life cycle....



Kara Hattersley-Smith

Site in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on a promontory at the confluence of the rivers Crna and Vardar, c. 23 km south-east of Titov Veles. It existed as a city by the early 2nd century bc; under the Romans, its commercial and military importance was enhanced with the construction of roads along the Crna and Vardar valleys. In ad 325, the city is recorded as having its own bishop and by the 5th century it had become the capital of the province of Macedonia Secunda. It was severely damaged by the attack of 479 by the Goths and was probably also affected by the earthquake of 518. Although the bishops of Stobi subscribed to the proceedings of the Council of Constantinople in 680 and the Penthekte Council in Trullo in 780, the archaeological evidence suggests that by the late 7th century the urban community was no longer functioning. The presence of Slav graves, however, indicates that the area continued to be inhabited until probably the 12th century, after which it was abandoned....


S. J. B. Barnish

[the Great]

(b Cauca [now Coca], Spain, c. ad 346; reg 379–95; d Milan, Jan 17, 395).

Roman emperor and patron. His father, Count Theodosios, was executed in 376 under Valens (reg 364–78), but in 379 Gratian (reg 367–83) proclaimed Theodosios emperor of the eastern empire. In a series of campaigns he contained the invading Goths and crushed two rivals in the west: Magnus Maximus (reg 383–8) and Eugenius (reg 392–4), who was supported by leading pagans in the Roman aristocracy. He was a devout Nicene Christian and persecutor of heretics and was much influenced by St Ambrose of Milan (c. 339–97), who forced him to do penance for his massacre of between 7000 and 15,000 people in the Hippodrome at Thessaloniki in 390. He abolished sacrifices and confirmed the disendowment of pagan cults but gave some legal protection to statues and temples as works of art. In 384–8, however, he permitted his fanatical minister Cynegius to tour the eastern provinces destroying temples. The empire was by then becoming firmly Christian, and the resulting flowering of Christian literature, art and architecture is known as the Theodosian Renaissance. At Rome he and his co-emperors began the construction of ...


Patsy Vanags

Site of a Roman temple incorporated into an Early Christian or early medieval church, c. 15 km north of Spoleto, Italy. The River Clitumnus, with its numerous springs, was sacred in Roman times, and there were many shrines along its course. Spolia from these may have been used in the existing structure. It has some traits in common with Roman temples, most notably its four-columned façade with a pediment above. The framing of the columns with two apparently contemporary square section columns is uncommon, but other aspects of its design mark it out as an Early Christian building (4th or 5th century ad) or an early medieval one (8th or 9th century). The interior has a narrow horseshoe arch in the apse and carved mouldings with early medieval characteristics. The building stands on a podium, but instead of a staircase at the front, a flight of steps on either side leads to a small pedimented doorway giving access to the interior. This unusual arrangement may be due to the siting of the building on a sloping bank, but its bold form, with miniaturized Hellenistic grandeur reminiscent of the Roman sanctuary (late ...