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A World of Art: Greek and Roman Masterpieces


Art is the product of human development and is one of the human peculiarities that differentiate human beings from animals. The peak of artistic skill and talent is rightfully considered to be the so-called Ancient epoch in the history of mankind, during which two major civilizations developed and left their traces in the forms of art. These civilizations are Ancient Greece and Rome, and the most notable pieces of their art are the Parthenon and the Arch of Constantine.

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Greek Art: The Parthenon (447-438 BCE)

Greek art is overall characterized by the pompous expression of beauty and power in all forms including sculpture, painting, and of course architecture. The Parthenon built in the 5th century BC is a perfect example of Ancient Greek art. It is a rectangular temple performed in the Doric style typical of the Ancient Greece of that period. The form and numerous Doric columns situated on all sides of the Parthenon prove its belonging to the Doric style (Silverman, 2009).

The subject matter of the Parthenon (erected between 447 and 438 BC) is the expression of the greatness of the city that dominated the political and social life of Ancient Greece in the 5th century BC, i. e. Athens. This subject matter is expressed in the numerous metopes displaying the scenes from the courageous battles of the Athenian army against Persians (Silverman, 2009).

Accordingly, the Parthenon has philosophical, historical, and religious significance. The latter is implicitly expressed in the dedication of the temple to the Greek goddess Athena, the patron of the current capital of Greece and formerly one of the most powerful states in the ancient world (Silverman, 2009).

Roman Art: The Arch of Constantine (313 CE)

The Arch of Constantine is, compared to the Parthenon, a piece of art relating to the later epoch in ancient history. Erected over 7 centuries after the Parthenon (in 315 AD), the Arch of Constantine serves as the masterpiece of classical Roman art that glorifies the greatness of the empire and its rulers (Storage, 2007).

The form of the Arch reflects the further discussed pompous meaning of this architectural masterpiece. The Arch is currently characterized by 7 Corinthian columns decorated with the ornament. Numerous inscriptions can be observed all over the panels of the Arch of Constantine. The panels are mainly Attic and are used to depict the military achievements of the Roman emperors of the early Empire.

The subject matter of the Arch of Constantine is the victory of this emperor in the civil war and his subsequent becoming the head of the Roman Empire. This arch can be considered a background on which Constantine, the first Roman Emperor to legalize and even worship Christianity, is compared to his predecessors like Trajan and Marcus Aurelius (Storage, 2007).

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The Arch of Constantine has a historical and philosophical meaning. The former is obvious from the subject matter of the Arch as it was dedicated by the Roman Senate to Emperor Constantine after his victory in the civil war. The philosophical meaning of the Arch can be observed in its being an embodiment of Roman power (Storage, 2007).


Thus, both the Parthenon and the Arch of Constantine are pieces of ancient art. Erected in the various epochs of the development of the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, these masterpieces of architecture have common historical and philosophical meanings, although their dedications and religious meanings differ.


ARC. (2009). Academy Resource Center. Web. 

Silverman, D. (2009). The Parthenon. Web.

Storage, W. (2007). The Arch of Constantine. Web. 

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