Roles Of Religion And Political Power Played In The Roman Architecture In Ancient Roman Empire and after


The ancient Rome architecture was adopted from the architecture of the Greeks. In ancient Rome we can clearly see the relationship between art and propaganda. This paper will examine how art was manipulated to encourage   unity of the nation,   show military campaigns and to portray the strength of the emperor and the empirical family that they are committed to serve the people. Aspects to be discussed will be art elements from architecture to sculpture, basilica, arches and other monuments which has made Rome to leave behind a legacy to be admired and envied. Then finally, the paper will how the Baroque architecture has influenced other nations in Europe and in America.


In Early Rome, 6th -5th centuries B.C, Temple architecture were a combination of Latin and Etruscan influences. However the formation of the republic in the 509 B.C, the roman architecture had already had its opulence and grandiosity at a large scale making it to set itself apart from the cities neighboring cities like Latin and Etruscan. One of the major prominent Roman architecture is the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus which was built from ca.525 to 509 B.C. the Temple is very large in both its elevation and plan and its decoration is lavish compared to other structures in the whole of the region.

This is the building which has for a long time been referred to by many writers with a lot of praises and admiration. The ancient Rome Architecture was mainly adopted from the architecture of the Greeks to fulfill their own purposes as developed a new style of architecture. The Romans adopted the stylistics designs also from the Phoenicians and this influence introduced the use of Triclinium in the Villas of Rome as a manner and place of dining.

The Romans Etruscan neighbors were also of great influence to the Romans who mainly provided them with the important knowledge of finding solutions to the challenges of architecture. Such solutions include the arches constructions and on hydraulics (Garwood, and Hole 2010, pp 89). The Romans later were able to come up with their own solutions in architecture as a result the growing population and wealth in the cities. The use of arches together with vaults and accompanied with better building materials knowledge enabled the Romans architects to achieve great success never seen before in the construction of public structures for commercial and governance purposes.

Some of these structures include the Bath of Diocletian, the aqueducts of Rome, Colosseum, the basilicas and the Bath of Caracalla. Some of the presents seen Roman structures which are yet to be completed are the Lugo’s town wallla in Northern Spain or Hispania Tarraconensis (Thomas, 2007, pp7).These buildings according to nations political propaganda were made to perform public functions and at the same time for impression. The Roman architects were not only aiming at copy the aesthetic axons of the Greeks but also adopted other elements from other cultures as well as incorporating their own creative styles.

The Pantheon is one of the bests example which has adopted other new elements and was rebuilt by Hadrian as a new version. This structure has been perfectly reserved for centuries especially seen in the maintenance of its Western hemisphere which has inspired many other structures of the public. Emperor Hadrian also managed to leave behind his legacy in the northern Britain Landscape by construction a wall which demarcated his territory but this Hadrian walls were replaced by the Antoine walls after the conquest of Scotland (Garwood, and Hole 2010, pp 89).

The history of Roman architecture

Roman history began in 509 BCE called the republican period after the Etruscan kings had been expelled. The Roman republican was then taken under control by the senate comprising of 300-900 elders from the upper-class families. The aristocracy dominances brought about heightened tension   between the social classes triggered by the fact that the lower classes were demanding for equality in both the government and the economy.

The military power of Rome played a significant role in containing the internal struggles from the 5th and 4th centuries BC and eventually took control of the entire peninsula by 270 BCE. Punic Wars rose in 264 BCE between the military power of Rome and Carthage’s which wrangles were over the control of the Western part of the Mediterranean (History World 2001). From the war, Rome emerged the winners and gave the nation access to the wealth of Asia Minor, Egypt and Greece. From this great power gained, Rome started to enact protectorates in Africa, Gaul, Sicily, Spain and in the East. This made the Roman generals to take over and acquire vast amounts of arts work. The Romans were mainly influenced by Greek art because the Romans brought these Roman art in Rome.

The roman generals triumph their possession all over the city and displayed the art work as a sign symbolizing their status and as a way to protect their power and promote themselves (History World 2001).Despite the great achievement Rome was going through, much struggles between the classes which strained the government, the government also faced the challenge of administering the accumulated land it had conquered. These challenges began to weaken the senate. Various civil wars aroused from the lack of strength from the government. The wars were between the generals who were backed by various different armies. In 49 BCE, Julius Caesar came into power by first disagreeing with the orders given by the Senate against him going to Italy.

He declared himself a leader and dictator for life in 44 BCE but he was killed in March 44 BCE. This murdering also ignited many other civil wars in Rome and Marc Anthony and Caesar’s heir Octavian also his grand –nephew took up the duty of avenging for his death. But the two later disagreed and became rivals. But it became evident that Octavian was more powerful than Anthony and Cleopatra his ally. Octavian became the heir in 27 BCE and was given the title, “Augustus” as an honor and he ruled Rome for a period of forty years (Garwood, and Hole, 2010. pp109).Augustus held a number of administrative positions both in the religious and political aspects, despite claiming that he had managed to restore the old Rome as a republic.

He managed to bring forth various developments in Rome such as the construction of transport systems and used art in bring the region together he also used at to promote tradition and call for the respecting of tradition and also to promote himself. The art promoted Augustus major leadership themes as respects to traditional aspects, Rome’s allegiance and peace. Augustus also managed to improve the city through the construction of highly expensive buildings worth the empire’s power. Augustus is credited for making art to be part of the roman government materialization and this idea was continued by his descendants. This made Augustus to be referred to as a god juts like his father Julius Caesar. Augustus died in 14 CE (History World 2001.

The Julio-Claudian emperors who came later continued with the efforts of expanding the Roman Empire especially towards the East while at the same time trying to govern well and maintained the gained land in the North and west. These emperors are Nero (54-68 CE), his successor Vespasian (69-79 CE), Domitian (81-96 CE) and Titus (79-81 CE) who created a Trivian linage. The empire continued to grow and prosper even under the leadership the later emperors like Hadrian (117-138 CE) and Trajan (98-117 CE) who still managed to expand the boundaries of Rome (Coarelli, 2000).This made Rome to be a big empire covering vast lands until it became a difficult task for subsequent empires in governing the territory. Rebellions and threats began to arise and become persistent especially in countries like Britain and Germany (Butz, 2000, p 9).

These threats made the empire to develop other temporary and new capitals to act as frontiers in combating the threat from the neighboring countries. The empire was then divided into halves of the Western and the Eastern part by Emperor Diocletian (284-305 CE). This was aimed at creating stabilization as well as sharing of power among the emperors. However in 313 CE, Constantine the Great (306-337 CE) reunited Rome back into one nation with the creation of new church constructions and having a single imperial rule with the aim of making Rome a Christian nation. Constantinople in 324 CE founded the Christian Capital and he named it the” new Rome’. In his death in 337 CE his three sons divided the territory amongst themselves and continued to gain power.

Christian religion also flourished throughout Rome. Various commissions at a large scale were patron by the church and the status of the pagans were either carried of by a group of Germanic people called the Vandals who went with the m to   North Africa or were simply destroyed. Rome was under captivity in 410 CE by the Visigoths which led to the overthrow of Romulus Augustus marking the end of the Roman Empire (Coarelli, 2000, pp 87). Rome is a town in Italy’s centre between river Aniene and Tevere. In the Southern location there is simple access to North Africa, Balkans, the Far East and the Mediterranean. In this region, Rome is the largest city which was established in the 7563 BC period according to the legendary tales of the two twins Remus and Romulus.

Various structures in Rome depict the Roman culture which was constructed since the city was a republic to an empire with its ability to expand to other neighboring nations beyond its borders (Butz, 2000, p34).Various designs are incorporated into the Roman architecture which was depicted in structures by religious leaders and political leaders. Never had it been seen a design authenticated to Rome apart from the army’s early stepping stones for protecting the territory. The Romanesque architecture is a blend with the designs of the Greeks which is seen in various structures of religion.

The political, churches and temples galleries all have roman antiques and a lot of evolution has taken place in construction and decorations have also undergone various changes (Associated Content 2008). The rise of Roman Empire is mainly attributed to the catholic religion. This religion offered a good political direction and a legislative framework the basilicas have well stored a numerous ancient architecture especially the one found in Basilica di San Clemente. In Rome many religious leaders acted as political leaders and this means that the emperor of Rome and could also be represented as a pope. This was the case before Mussolini came to create the Vatican as state of autonomy under the pope’s leadership (History World 2001).

 Characteristics of Roman structures

Ever since the growth and development of the Roman Empire through capturing of other nations, the nation continued to be the icon of the world and of loyalty in other parts of the world. The notions grew in terms of new technological developments which influenced other nations. Rome today is still known as a city of highly preserved culture which has impacted on the Italian, Latin, and the Romanesque (Jrank, 2011).

Art and design in Rome was also influenced by the Jewish religion in which the religious design in temple building was incorporated   to the Roman architectural designs. The external designs of these Roman structure showed the interaction of the Roman with other foreign cultures or the world leading to the formation of new designs. New technologies were introduced by the armies which made it possible to distinguish the Roman art from the rest of the world (Garwood, and Hole 2010).

Mussolini was the first Roman to strike new designs of architecture which marked a major transformation of both the architectural design and organization. The organizations of towns were being introduced by each Roman emperor in control seen in Octavian and Romulus Augustus efforts. The Roman art was also influenced by Christianity as well as a combination of the European and fascist architecture culture. Mussolini is attributed to fascism art who believed that it is only through force that a solution to a problem could be achieved (Roman Coliseum Par.3).

Roman architecture and power

Architectural designs were initiated by the emperors of Rome who believed in the use of force and power and this force according to the emperors had to retransmit to other neighboring countries like England and France. The growth of the empire was also propelled by the Catholic Church because it incorporated a lot of devotees who joined the basilicas as the pilgrimage. The making of a religious center in Rome was mainly trough the effort of Pope John Paul II and Pope Boniface VIII (Garwood and Hole pp 31).

The army   men in the Roman Empire also spread the Rome architecture in their construction of high ways and roads with the aim of improving their own communication (Ryding, p 63).Many scholars have analyzed the ancient Roman art as a way of enhancing propaganda in both the political and religious aspects as a way of informing the people of shares religions, behaviors and ideas. The conquering of other nations by the empire made Rome to comprise of a large number of citizens who were even far from the Rome physical dimension and its culture.

The artistic aspects in Rome made these people in far away learn to understand the philosophy of Roman politics even to those who were illiterate (Davies, 1997). Despite the fact that the Roman artists copied various work of the Greeks, they did not succeed to fully imitate them because the Greeks used aspects like nature god and mythologies while the Romans used sculpture as a way of instilling conceived political and religious ideas to the people or simply propaganda.

these propagandas through art were used to show the political strengths of the Rome’s senates and officials, to promote themselves and to make connection between the Royal family and city one is coming from. Sculpture in Rome was commonly used by the people to make a connection between one’s deity and the self, to cement prestige or power and to public the political authority. The roman art focused on the practical and political arenas done in every day life. Art was made to be a necessary aspect by the emperors to demonstrate and circulate royalty among the native citizens as well as the population from the conquered colonies (Associated Content 2008).Historical republication of the Romans began in 509 BCE.

The society was structured into social class n that comprised of senators. The social class divisions in Rome led to   the development of internal struggles and strife for equality n power distribution in the roles of economic development and governance. The Romans despite of the internal a wrangles became powerful and successful through the power of the military force in conquering other neighboring states. This conquest saw Rome managing to control the entire peninsular of Italy by the year 270 BCE. The successful defeat of Cortège and various Punic wars allowed Roman to have access to the wealth in Greece, Egypt and Asia Minor.

Rome was able to mine the local wealth   found in these regions as well as construction territories in places like Spain, Sicily, Gaul and East Africa.This conquest and dominance made the Romans to explore and discover the local art found in these new territories. It became their desire to propel the art and luxury found in them. This is the time when the Greek art became of grate influence to the architecture of the Romans they used the art in Rome to show their power and status especially the Roman generals. They also used the art as a way of promoting themselves through this Greek influence the Romans were able to portray their leadership style and the great military and political force it had in a homogeneous manner.

This meant that the older forms of individual of single fashions were abandoned in favor of depicting the   honoring of a personal social and internal personality. These were replaced in a unison triumph of the wealth and possessions gained by the wealth Romans and senators. The challenge which the roman government included the management of  and support of other newly captured territories of disparate cultures as well as the internal strife among the social classes. The management of the newly captured regions called for the need of using much finances (Garwood, and Hole 2010 pp 67). Many cities in Europe today still bear the structural designs which remind the world of the ancient Rome power which influenced the western world. Rome Success is mainly attributed to its architecture.

This architecture include both the formal ones like basilicas and the temples and also the utilitarian structures like the aqueducts and bridges which play a crucial role in connecting and unifying the whole of the Roman empire. Communication was improved with the construction of bridges and roads while the Pont Du Gard also known as aqueducts provided the roman cities with enough water, the roman cities were protected from enemies by walls such as the one found in Central France, Autun. Administrative centers were established in cities acted as forms of physical power in the whole parts of the empire. The Romans founded most European cities like Paris and London (Ryding, 2006, pp 90).The various buildings established in Europe served as statute of Roman power in both direct and indirect the basilica in American cities acted like a court house or like town halls.

Emperor Trajan was the first to construct the Basilica Ulpia during the start of the second century AD. These basilicas were characterized by an apse which is a projection which worked as a seat for the magistrate working as a dispenser of a country’s law. The source of law would be symbolized by the image of the emperor just near where the magistrate seats. Christianity was also spread through the work of art. In that in the Basilicas, the portrait of Christ being judged was introduced in the 6th century showing Christ seated. There is also the Pontius Pilate which also shows the images of the emperor.

Above the scene there are some semicircular lines which also depict the formation of the apse. The Roman city’s basilica conveyed to the citizens the idea of Roman authority. The art and authority association was an important and rational aspect to use the basilica as a Christian church in a standard form. This was established during the rule of Emperor Constantine (Jrank, 2011).In many European cities today, there are still a number of amphitheaters which were used by the Roman Empire as arenas for staging entertainment for the citizens. Sea battles and gladiatorial contents were played in these theaters which imitated the great victories of the Roman military.The Colosseum was one of the greatest and famous amphitheaters which were established in 72 AD during the rule of Emperor Vespasian. The Colosseum was constructed in a garden of a lavish garden of Emperor Nero’s palace found in the center of Rome. On the part of Vespasin the Colosseum acted as his political statement which conveyed to the people of Rome about the power of Vespasian in overthrowing the hated Nero which is an act of great pride among the Roman people (Roman Colosseum, 2008). The arc of Trajan (114-117 AD in Benevento) and the Arch of Titus (c.82 AD n Rome) are commonly known as the triumphal Arches which commemorate the triumphs of the Rome military. These arches were constructed by Emperors in the major cities of Rome. The arches gave clear indication that the Rome military was powerful and had to be respected even feared (Jrank, 2011).

The temples were also of great importance to the Emperors. In the Roman World politics and religions were greatly intertwined and any public celebrations conducted outside the temple were not within the requirements of the empire and the community as a whole. The effort by an emperor to build a temple gave a clear indication of traditional dedication practiced in the Roman society and his pietas. A well persevered example is the Maison Caree located in a southern town of France called Nimes. The general design of the Roman Temples was in the same way like the Greek temples and also used classical orders. The Roman temples however were well distinct and could be noticed from a distance and also carried out cult practices which reminded the people they were also members of the empire (Davies, 1997, pp 67).

The temples and Basilicas were located at the city centers or in a public fora or squares. Based on the high population in the city and with every city having enough public squares, the temples and basilicas clearly indicated the imperial authority statement. These imperial foras were located in the entire town both large and small as an indication that the roman planning of these towns with building complexity and giving the towns a sense of order.The leaders of the Roman empire used art to provide a physical statement of their power and authority these architectural designs apart from playing the role of upholding tradition, they did also give a sense of power especially those found in Paris which were deconstructed by Napoleon who had the ambition of making Paris another Rome.

He commissioned the building of Arc de Triumphed which was completed in 1836. He builds other sculptures which showed his images and dressed in the style of a Roman emperor.The Roman architecture tradition also went ahead to influence other American architecture in the later years. In the continent, various courthouses were constructed with a clear imitation of the Roman architecture. The most striking one is the Supreme court of the United States in Washington which was completed in 1935 a under the design given by Gaaa Gilbert. The free Stan dining columns appear in the frontal part of the building just like the roman temples. The white marble also characterizes the major   public buildings of Washington to because they echo the Roman and Greek architecture (Lancaster, 1999, 419-39).

This choice to use the Roman art is especially in the American courthouses and law systems is because of the adaptation even of the American law to use the traditions of the Roman law. In the legal authority Latin language is still being used. Other structure in the New York City also reflects the influence from the Roman architecture. The Washington square arch which is adopted from the Roman Triumphal Arches. There is also the Baltimore’s Washington Monument derived from the Roma Column of Trojan. The planning of   Washington DC is based on roman planning which was imitated by I’ Enfant the Mall structure has an axial p plan which start from the capital building to Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. This design is based on the Roman fora. The western architecture has manly been influenced by the Pantheon which was constructed by Emperor Hadrian (117-138 AD).

The emperor imitated what is known as architectural revolution with transforming how the temple was planned into a much centrally structure which used concrete and architecture with other traditional materials for building. The design used on this construction has mainly transformed the architecture of Western Europe and other parts of the world. The gardens allees design has been adopted by European countries to serve different purposes in England thee designs are used for recreational activities e especially in the game of Pall Mall. While in France the alley designs transformed into boulevards.

The Romans again copied the  boulevards deign to solve the problem of backstreet sewage they were facing.The ancient Roman designs were also adopted in Britain which have designs emphasizing on the gothic themes and other advanced themes. The Palladian architecture in Britain is one example. The renaissance icons such as Michelangelo, Leonard da Vinci and Titan are well known as the fathers of modern day architecture( (Naden 26.) during the 20uth century also known as the Neoclassical period of Rome, the Roman began to appreciate the classical architectural designs and made effort of preserving them.


There are many aspects to discuss when handling the topic of Roman architecture. This paper has managed to present the history of Roman architecture which is important background to understand how power and religion were intertwined and passed this to the local citizen and new citizens from the neighboring conquered states through art. We can say that the Roman act acted a major role in spreading the administration’s propaganda in both the religions and political aspects. By examining the structures such as temples, basilicas theaters and courthouses we can see how distinct they were as well as the information they passed to the citizen. The emperors passed the massage of   military power as well as political power through these unique architectural designs which were later to be admired and adopted by various nations around the world like Britain, France, Spain, Germany and America.


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