4Figure 11-1 Interior of the synagogue at Dura-Europos, Syria, with wall-paintings of Old Testament themes, ca. 245–256. Tempera on plaster. Reconstruction in National Museum, Damascus. The definition of a pagan in Gardner’s glossary and usage is “A person who worships many gods.” This is a derogatory, Christian usage. The term for one who worships many deities is a polytheist. and a number of the pagan religion. A pagan is a non-Christian (or a bit more fully, anyone other than Christians and Jews, who have a special status for Christians. It comes into English mainly from Christian references to the religion of ancient Rome and any opposed by Christians, except those of the Jews, whose got the Christians accepted, and then the Muslims, who worshipped that same god. Dura is what the Romans called it, Europos is what the Greeks called it, the city located on the Euphrates inSyria. Founded by [Selucids] taken by Trajan from the Parthians in 115 and retaken by them; retaken by Romans 165, but lost to the Sasanians in 256, and then evacuated. Thus it became the “Pompeii of the desert.”The synagogue at Dura-Europos preserves the oldest Jewish painting’s anywhere. It was originally a private house. They are tempera painting on plaster. Though the Jews had a prescriptions against “graven images” that was sometimes interpreted as avoiding all figurative art, it was in other cases merely images of their god, “YHWH” or “Yahweh.” And then we get the sort of confusion that is truly confusion: “except as a hand emerging from the top of the framed panels.”The style is devoid of action, but broken into scenes filled with figures making stylized gestures. There is a niche in the middle of the wall for the Torah, the scroll containing the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures.
Figure 11-2 Reconstruction of the Christiancommunity house at Dura-Europos, Syria, ca. 240–256. 6The Christian worship center preserved at Dura- Europos was also a renovated private house.Contained separate rooms for the meeting place and the baptistery. The meeting place had a raised platform at one end for the prayer leader. The baptistery had a covered font.The room for the celebration of the Eucharist (thebread and wine that were actually or symbolically—depending on the sect— the blood and body of Christ) was separate. This new cult attracted all classes, promisingequality in the judgments of an afterlife. Diocletian ordered fresh persecutions as late as 303-5, Trahan Decius had ordered some half a century earlier. Roman’s persecuted Christians for refusing to pay homage to Rome’s official gods. The persecution ended only with theConstantine’s victory at the Milvian bridge, whichhe attributed to the Christian god, because of a vision he had.
7 Figure 11-3 The Good Shepherd, the story of Jonah, and orants, painted ceiling of a cubiculum in the Catacomb of Saints Peter and Marcellinus, Rome, Italy, early fourth century. The catacombs were underground cemeteries for Christians, and other persecuted sects, such as the Jews. Some 60 to 90 miles of these galleries, have been hollowed out beneath Rome, of 2nd to 4th century. Originally they had to be outside the city’s limits. Unlike the Etruscanrecreation of a mansion, these were only simple rooms cubicula. They were preserved as monuments to martyrs after the sect was made legal. They were painted like houses. Here is a domed chamber painted much like the insula of Ostia: (10-54). It is a spoked wheel organization in a subtly domed space, depicted as a “dome of heaven,” with four lunettes. In the center is Christ as the good shepherd, sheep on his back. In the lunettes we see: Jonah, (left) being cast from his ship, (right) within hissea monster, and (below) at ease back on land, which Christians took to be a prefiguring of Christ’s resurrection in the Old Testament. Between the lunettes are ornate, Christians praying with their arms akimbo.
Jesus Jesus Jesus beingJonah & the sea creature Faceless as as Baptized by his Philosopher Goodsheperd Cousin John the Baptist Orant 9 1 2 3 4 5Figure 11-4 Sarcophagus with philosopher, orant, and Old and New Testament scenes, Santa Maria Antiqua, Rome, Italy, ca. 270. Marble, 1’ 11 1/4” X 7’ 2”.Christians were buried, not cremated. The subjects on wealthy Christian’s sarcophagi use Christian iconographic subjects.Here we see, (from our left to right): Jonah thrown into the sea, a female orant (praying figure), a seated philosopher, Jesus as the Good Shepherd, and as a child being. The faces on the praying woman and philosopher are unfinished, probably intended to carry the likenesses of the deceased, though never completed.
10 Heavenly triumph above Earthly triumph below Figure 11-5 Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus, from Rome, Italy, ca. 359. Marble, 3’ 10 1/2” X 8’. Museo Storico del Tesoro della Basilica di San Pietro, Rome. Junius Bassus was the city prefect of Rome when he converted. His sarcophagus, like the last was in the Italian manner of decorating one side only. In this case it is a two story architecture that creates ten framed scenes from the oldand new testaments. Christ is in the center of each register. Below he rides toward his entry into Jerusalem. Above his is seen as an enthroned world ruler: flanked by his chief apostles, Peter and Paul, and supported by the Roman personification of the sky god. The heavenly triumph above and the earthly triumph below. Like the first commandment in the old testament’s. The personification of the sky god is the sky god. His support of Christ here isintended to show the importance of Christ. The human body was now—under the influence of Christian separation of body and soul —being down-played, though by the same token it was being preserved in sarcophagus rather than being cremated.
1) Sacrifice of Issac 2)Arrest of Peter 3) Christ Enthroned 4) Jesus before Pontius Pilate 5) Washing Hand w/Peter & Paul 1 3 2 4 5 6 7 9 10 8 6) Job @Dunhill 7) Adam & Eve 8) Christ into Jerusalem 9) Daniel in Lion’s Den 10)Arrest & Ex of Paul 11
13Figure 11-6 Christ seated, from Civita Latina, Italy, ca. 350–375. Marble, approx. 2’ 4 1/2” high. Museo Nazionale Romano—Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome. Monumental sculpture became increasingly rare in the 4th century. Monumental images of Roman emperors and deities were still being manufactured, but less and less. “Justin Martyr, a second-century philosopher who converted to Christianity and was mindful of the Second Commandment’s admonition to shun graven images, accused the pagans of worshipping statues as gods. Christians tended to suspect the freestanding statue, linking it with the false gods of the pagans, so Early Christian houses of worship had no “cult statues.” (307)This two-and-a-half foot Christ is a rare example of coming close. Our text even suggests it may have been a the “rare instance...of [an] Early Christian “idol...” It is a freestanding, youthful Christ enthroned. It is abeardless, long-haired “Apollo-like” youth in a Roman tunic, toga, and sandals, holding an unopened scroll. Thus it is much on thephilosopher iconography. Though a few images of Jesus as the GoodShepherd survive, there are no standard image of Christ in European sculpture until the 12th century, eight hundred years later. Compared to the standard Roman images of the previous centuries, andeven the enthroned Christ on the Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus, this is aparticularly sack-like figure, which flattens out rather than projecting mass.If the point of the Christian turn is dematerialization, this is moving in that direction.
Figure 11-7 Restored view (a), plan (b), and section (c) of Old Saint Peter’s, Rome, Italy, begun ca. 320. (The restoration of the forecourt is conjectural.) Old Saint Peter’s was begun in Constantine’s time, and lasted until the Renaissance, when it was raised as being too decrepit to shore up, and replaced by the church that is there today. Our record of Old St. Peter’s comes largely from drawings and written descriptions. Once it ceased to be persecuted and hidden, after Constantine’s victory, congregations grew and a monumental sized church was constructed. The model chosen was the relatively light structure of the brick basilica, such as the one we saw at Trier (10-80 & 81). Constantine was the first great patron of the church. He built in Rome,14 Constantinople and in the holy land itself. Old Saint Peter’s, Saint John Lateran, both outside the older parts of the city. Saint Peter’s was built over what was believed to be the location of Peter’s burial. (Recent archaeological research reveals a 2nd century memorial that effect.) This was one of the most hallowed spot in Christendom. [This is particularly true of the hegemonic church.] Interpreting Matthew 16:18 “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock (in Greek, petra) I will build my church, ” Peter was so designated by Jesus to create the bureaucracy that would administer the religion. It was a giant, monumental church, capable of crowds up to 4,000 persons. It was based on the model of the basilica (10-41 and 10-80 & 81) with a raised central nave aisle carrying windows and two pairs of lower side aisles. Unlike the Mediterranean temple with its tiny interior for images of deities, and public rituals held outside, this was a hall for public gathering. Plan The church’s layout was organized around a wide central nave and narrower side aisles, where the congregation could gather, fronted by a wide crossing aisle called the transept, with an apse, like a Roman basilica, before which stood a canopy (baldochino) beneath which was to be performed the major ritual, the Mass, “The Catholic and Orthodox ritual in which believers understand that Christ’s redeeming sacrifice on the cross is repeated when the priest consecrates the bread and wine in the Eucharist.” The baldichino was built directly over the crypt in which Saint Peter’s remains were said to be buried. Worshippers entered from the narthex (vestibule), which was preceded by an open-air courtyard, like forum proper with Trajan’s basilica, or like the entrance to a Roman mansion. Looking up the nave one saw the altar framed in an arched proscenium later called the triumphal arch. The relics of Saint Peter were housed off the southern transept arm. The plan was thus established in the form of a cross over the tomb of a great saint, with its focus on the altar where the central nave met the crossing arm. The length of the nave provided a path for the procession of the pirests to the altar to pass by the assembled congregation as it preceded to the enactment of the church’s central and most sacred rite, the Eucharist. Unlike the classical temple, the Roman Catholic church was an austere brick structure on the exterior, preserving the interior for rich and colorful decoration in fresco, mosaic, beautiful marble and figurative imagery. “The Early Christian basilica may be likened to the ideal Christian , with a somber and plain exterior and a glowing and beautiful soul within.” Here we see more of the anti-classical, anti-humanist imagery of the early Christian church, with a rejection of the visible body and exhalation of what lies within. Some scholars suggest this rejection of the body is part of what is going on in the stylistic shift from beautiful classical anatomy to the more conceptual imagery of the later Roman art, which is early Christian art. It may also be of note that the practice of building Medieval Catholic altars over crypts holding martyrs’ remains became standard, as this provided a particular sanctity to the spot. A glance back at the plan and isometric view in the book reveals the presence of a pair or attached martyria, martyr tombs, on the south of
19 Figure 11-8 Interior of Santa Sabina, Rome, Italy, 422–432. The best surviving example of the sort of monumental church that was first in vogue can be seen in Rome’s Santa Sabina. Seen from its east end it presents the same sort of brick geometry we’ve seen in the Aula Palatina (10-80). A rectangular structure with a tile roof over an arcaded wall. The major difference here is the addition of side aisles, to hold a larger congregation. These are on the ground level, so the upper level here becomes a clear story. There are small semi-circular apses on the side aisles as well, accentuating the character of assembled geometric solids. The wall is left flat and unarticulated, but for the windows. Thus as plain as possible. On the inside of the structure is a long hall with side aisles extended beyond the airy columnar arcade (series of arches). There is a triumphal arch proscenium framing the location of the altar, where the apse joins the hall. The curving form of the apse and the quarter dome of its vault focuses the hall on the alter, as the arcade perspective leads the eye to it. The grid of rafters in the timber ceiling above adds tothe same effect. The altar occupies the position that a statue of the emperor would have in an imperial basilica. The wall is a flat plane on a widely spaced colonnade, opened by windows set almost flush. The effect is an insubstantial lightness: open space in thin containers. The most solid element in the hall is the painting in the semi-dome, which is a later addition. The columns of the colonnade have Corinthian columns. As they were originally constructed, there was a seat for the bishop in the apse, behind the altar. There is a low rail in the middle of the nave separating off the choir from the hall. There is a pulpit attached to it.
20Figure 11-9 Interior of Santa Costanza, Rome, Italy, ca. 337–351. The Mausoleum of Constantia, was long called Santa.
21 Figure 11-10 Longitudinal section (top) and plan (bottom) of Santa Costanza, Rome, Italy, ca. 337–351.The Mausoleum of Constantia, was long called Santa Costanza, andacted as a church and martyrium (martyr’s tomb). It follows a Roman model of a central-planned tomb, a structure symmetrical about a point. These can be square, hexagonal, octagonal, or as here circular. Normally as here they are domed. We saw one of these in Diocletian’s fortress palace at Spilt (10-75). This was originally the tomb of Constantine’s daughters Constantia and Helena, the first of which was long confused nun who was a martyr. Looking at the plan and section together, we see a central-planned, domed space within a circular colonnade, surrounded by a barrel- vaulted ambulatory aisle on a lower level. There is an outer, lower,flat ceilinged corridor, separated by a wall, that was formerly an open pillared porch, but now closed in by a wall. The result is a bright, vertical, central space, surrounded by a lower, outside aisle. It may be that the 12 pairs of pillars supporting the arcade are a reference to the 12 apostles. Though this structure was for a long time turned into a church and Costanza treated like a saint, this was originally only a tomb. It wasconceived as a jewel box for witnessing two sarcophagi at its center, not a hall to be filled by a congregation. When Gardner’s authorsliken it to the beehive tombs of the Myceneans (4-21 & 22), they are referring to the fact of its domed, central space, not monumentality, as this is a very compressed space. Like the basilican churches of the day the tomb had a plain, brick exterior, which contrasts with the richness of its interior.
24 Figure 11-11 Detail of vault mosaic in the ambulatory of Santa Costanza, Rome, Italy, ca. 337–351.The tunnel-vaulted ambulatory aisle carries a rich mosaic ceiling. The imagery here is not Christian at all, but secular. Among the imagesare those seen here, of Constantia and her sister amid grape vines, along with scenes of a bullock cart hauling grapes and the stamping of the grapes into juice. There are putti (cherubic young boys) and birds among the vines. Similar imagery appears on Constantia’s sarcophagus.
27 Figure 11-12 Christ as Sol Invictus, detail of a vault mosaic in the Mausoleum of the Julii, Rome, Italy, late third century. “CHRIST AS SUN GOD The earliest known mosaic ofexplicitly Christian content is the late-third-century vault mosaic (fig. 11-12) in a small Christian mausoleum not far from Saint Peter’s tomb in the Roman cemetery beneath Old Saint Peter’s. It depicts Christ in the guise of a familiar pagan deity Sol Invictus (in Greek, Helios) the Invincible Sun, driving the sun chariot through the golden heavens. All about Christ are vines, as in Constantia’s mausoleum (fig. 11-11). He holds an orb in his left hand, characterizing him as ruler of the universe, another borrowing from the pagan repertory of Roman imperial art. But viewers could easily distinguish theChristian charioteer from the pagan Sol by the halo around his head: the rays suggest the pattern of a cross.” (313, emphasis added)
The Parting of Abraham & Lot Good vs. Evil Cluster heads 28Figure 11-13 The parting of Lot and Abraham, mosaic in the nave of Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, Italy, 432–440.
30 The early 5th century mosaic in our volume comes from a little panel, high up on the wall of the giant Santa Maria Maggiore. It is one of a great number of narrative scenes out of the Old Testament, running down the nave aisle, at a very high level. Abraham moves toward Canaan, on our left. Gardner’s author believes that the figure before him is Isaac, even if that is anachronistic. Lot moves the other way, with his two daughters in front of him, towards Sodom. The gestures are stage like, the figures limited in their naturalism, “Thus the complex action of Roman art stiffened into the medieval art of simplified motion, which has real power to communicate without ambiguity. The artist’s placing of the panel’s figures in the foreground and disinterest in defining the spatial setting also foreshadowed the character of later Christian art.” (315-316) There is still use of dark contrasting lines to indicate mass; these would disappear in a century, for an even flatter effect. I can’t help wondering whether or not this is true, when we consider the image can only be seen at a great distance. Never as close as you can in the book or the blown up slide in class. Though the actual work is 5 feet wide; it is so high on the nave clearstory wall and at such a distance that it is indeed quite difficult to make out. Step back 8 feet from your text’s illustration to have an idea. It is in part to carry across this distance that the style is so simplified. Current History In 324 Constantine moved the capital of the Roman Empire to his new seat of Constantinople, in the Greek speaking, eastern half of his realm. In 337 he died. In 387 his successor Theodosius I issued the edict making Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire. “In 391 he enacted a ban against pagan worship.” (316) In this case the book’s use of the term pagan is appropriate. The ban was against all non-Christian worship, Roman, Greek, German, Mithraic, Manicheism. Judaism and Samaratinism were at first not persecuted, because they had a special status under the laws of Constantine, But early in the 5th century new synagogues were prohibited, and soon both Jews and Samaritans were expelled from the army and public service. They revolted in 529 and 567, and when Persians and Arabs invaced Palestine in he 6th and 7th centuries they were welcomed as an improvement over the Christian Roman Empire. In 395 Theodosius died and the empire was split again. This time between his son Arcadius who ruled from Constantinople, and his son Honorious, who became Emperor of the West. In 404 the Visigoths under Alaric invaded Italy from the north, and Honorious was forced to move his capital from Milan to Ravenna on the Adriatic coast. (Milan had replaced Rome as the capital of the Western Empire in 286.) There it remained, while Alaric took, and sacked, Rome in 410. When Honorious died in 423 his sister Galla Placidia, took the throne as Regent (for her son), ruling from 425 to 440. The history of Italy from this point on is written as a tribal warfare between the marauding hoards speaking Germanic languages and settled populations speaking local Romance and Germanic languages and the remnants of the Roman empire, moving slowly from Latin toward Italian.
Figure 11-14 Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna, Italy, ca. 425. The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia maintains thetradition of a plain brick exterior with a rich interior. It is another example of the central-planned mausoleum, more or less.That is, it is almost a Greek (equilateral) cross in plan, and is certainly experienced that way. Though in actual fact it is 33x 39 feet on plan and so the earliest Christian structure we know on a Latin cross plan. The roof is of ceramic tiles. It was established originally as a Martyrium for Saint Lawrence, but later added cenotaphs for Galla Placidia and Honorious. 31 It is notable how here, as usual in these early Christian, ritual buildings, the simple structural articulation of the brick exterior is itself quite handsome, if demonstrably austere in comparison to their rich interiors.
Figure 11-15 Christ as the Good Shepherd, mosaic from the entrance wall of the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna, Italy, ca. 425.The image over the entrance, which one sees upon leaving, is of Christ as the Good Shepherd. Jesus here is shown with a golden halo, seated on a rock, holding a tall cross and surrounded by a flock. He is shaven and wearing the royal purple and gold. The space around him is not deep, but well established. Christ, the sheep and the rocks are all modeled with darkened edges and shadows to produce mass. They cast shadows on the ground. 33
39Figure 11-16 Interior of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy, dedicated 504On the inside the basilica is more or less similar in design to Santa Sabina, a central, clearstory nave with a timber roof, expanding into lower side aisles on eachside through airy, open colonnades and focused on an altar framed by a triumphal arch and apse. Though the side aisles, arch and apse are now bare, there are three rich registers of mosaic running down the walls of the nave. The upper two registers date from Theodoric’s time. Between the clearstory windows are Old Testament prophets and patriarchs, and above are small panels from the life of Christ [and various saints].
Figure 11-17 Miracle of the loaves and fishes, mosaic from the top register of the nave wall (above the clerestory windows) of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy, ca. 504. The panels of the upper register show the stylistic development that has occurred since the Galla Placidia murals of a century before. In a nutshell it can be seen in the differences between the gaze of Christ to the side of Christ as the Good Shepherd in 425, and40 his fully frontal gaze, out toward the spectator at Sant’ Apollinare. In the first we read a scene with a figure in a spatial setting. In the second we have a more of a line up of symbols. It is in many ways the step we saw in the opposite direction, between the two pediments of Aphia at Aegina a millenium before, when the dyeing warrior looking straight out at the spectator on the older program, of c 490 BCE, was replaced by one looking away, on the later program, of c 480 BCE. Christ in the Sant’ Apollinare mosaics stands fully frontal, his arms outstretched in the orant position, flanked by two, nearly- as-frontal, figures. Christ’s halo is a perfect circle. Despite a bit of development in the feet and profiles of the flanking figures, to suggest a bit of circling around Christ, all five figures are lined up flatly against the picture plane, and all five stare out directly at the viewer, as does nearly figure in every panel of both upper registers. There is no question about the subject or its meaning. Christ is producing the loaves and fishes in each of his outstretched hands. But the manner of depiction has moved from one aimed at evoking an emotional response to a scene viewed, to one aimed at symbolizing rather than evoking: stating an idea rather than summoning an emotion. A millenium long development of illusionistic imagery in monumental art has come full circle back to the conceptual imagery that preceded it. Despite the slight bit of space suggested in the progression from lighter to darker green in the ground plan, the overall setting is aimed at flatness. The figures are lined up close to the edge. The background is a flat gold of decoration, not a blue sky. The landscape motifs are pushed to either side and lined up with the figures. The few shadows left in the scene will soon be gone. Most of the lines in the scene are parallel to the frame. This is a world view quite “foreign to classical art, with its worldly themes, naturalism, perspective illusionism, modeling in light and shade, and proportionality.”(
A millennium long development of illusionist imagery in monumental art has come full circle back to the conceptual imagery that preceded it. (LEFT) Symmetry. Harmony and balance characterize the overall compositionThis is a world view quite “foreign to classical art, with its worldly themes, naturalism, perspective illusionism, modeling in light and shade, and proportionality (Right) Moved from one aimed at evoking an emotional response to a scene viewed, to one aimed at symbolizing rather than evoking: stating an idea rather than summoning an emotion.
42Figure 11-19 Rebecca and Eliezer at the well, folio 7 recto of the Vienna Genesis, early sixth century. Tempera, gold, and silver on purple vellum, approx. 1’ 1/4” X 9 1/4”. Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna. The Vienna Genesis is the earliest manuscript in good condition. It ison purple dyed vellum with silver ink. The tradition of continuous narration, with more than oneiteration of the subject in a single scene, that was common in the continuous scroll, is maintainedhere. We see the story of Rebecca’s meeting withEliezer at the well, where she is seen first coming to the well with a recumbent figure (symbolizing the spring source of the well) and then offering water to Eliezer and his camels. To the side we see the walled city of Nahor. TheRoman convention here is the same seen in reliefon the column of Trajan, viewed from above. Wealso see the cast shadows of Roman illusionism.
44Figure 11-20 Christ before Pilate, folio 8 verso of the RossanoGospels, early sixth century. Tempera on purple vellum, approx. 11” X 10 1/4”. Diocesan Museum, Archepiscopal Palace, Rossano. The Rossano Gospels are the earliest well-preserved New Testament. Here too there is the purple ground. Here again we see continuous narrative. We see Jesus appearing before Pilate, who is asking the Jews to choose betweenJesus and Barabas. In the upper part of the scene is Pilate on his dais.Here Jesus is a bearded adult, as the type will soon be standard.
45 Figure 11-21 Suicide of Judas and Crucifixion of Christ, plaque from a box, ca. 420. Ivory, 3” X 3 7/8”. British Museum, London.Here is one of a series of images from a decorated casket. We see Judas hanging from a tree, beneath him his bag of silver open andspilling out on the ground. Beside the cross are Mary and Joseph of Arimathea. Longinus with his lance is thrusting from the other side. “REX IVD” spells out Jesus King of the Jews. This set is the oldest surviving image of the passion. Jesus here is still unshaven.To our text Judas hangs down while Jesus floats up. I think this may be reading too much into a tiny and fairly unsophisticated image. Itis, if not the oldest surviving image of the crucifixion, one of the two oldest examples. The other is carved on the doors of Santa Sabina, of the same time.
46 Figure 11-22 Woman sacrificing at an altar, right leaf of the Diptych of theNicomachi and the Symmachi, ca. 400. Ivory, 11 3/4” X 5 1/2”. Victoria and Albert Museum, LondonEven after Theodosius closed all non-Christian temples and banned all non-Christian cults in 391, imagery from those traditions continued, as Christian had before it was made legal. Here is half of a diptych celebrating the marriage of two wealthy, senatorialfamilies. This is a low relief depiction of a traditional Roman sacrifice, by a priestess at an altar of Bacchus, before a sacred oak of Jupiter. .