Images of Roman architecture

June 25, 2013
St. Peter s, Vatican City

Through a case study of images depicting Rome's Capitoline Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, this chapter explores fault lines in the interpretation of ancient artistic and modern scientific images of ancient Roman architecture. Coins from the Late Republic through the High Empire depict the Temple of Jupiter, including the first ever Roman coin issue to feature a temple, that of Volteius (ca. 78 BCE). Detailed relief representations survive from the second century CE. Because the Temple of Jupiter was arguably the most important temple in Rome, many modern plans, elevations, models, and three-dimensional reconstructions depict this structure, primarily in its first (archaic) and final (Domitianic) phases. The author argues that the ancient concept of mimesis provides a useful lens for analyzing architectural representations both ancient and modern because it prompts consideration of artistic intent and audience response.

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