Saturday, June 08, 2013
Italian Reflections (Cont.): The Platypus Travels Part IV
When Constantine wanted to advertise his greatness to Rome he chose to appropriate pieces of the monuments of the so called "good emperors." It may have been because he wished to be identified with these benevolent and beloved monarchs -it may have been because he was short on stone. Whatever the case, Constantine made sure to erect the finished construction right outside the Colosseum (Flavian Amphitheater) where "Romaness" was put on show for the masses several times a year. I wonder if the masses got the message.
Constantine, the first openly Christian emperor, re-purposed Rome. He changed the capital, the dominant religion, and the political organization of the empire. Diocletian began the process and Constantine's heirs would continue it, but by the end of Constantine's reign, how much of the "Roman Empire" would Augustus recognize?
Even with Constantine's changes, the Empire eventually dissolved in the west and continued to evolve in the east. The heirs of Constantine's empire eventually stripped most of its monuments as a source of ready-shaped stone. Many that did survive were worked into new structures or allowed to fall into ruin through disuse. Since the nineteenth century, the Italians and other European powers have been digging these cast-offs out and finding new use for them as archeological evidence and tourist attractions.
We saw they tourist attraction. We were impressed. In the end, isn't that what Constantine wanted?