The Converted Emperor
by Danielle Gibbs
[student, Rome Sketchbook course, spring 2011]
The Arch of Constantine standing by the Colosseum may not be the only arch dedicated to the Ancient Roman Emperor. The arch today known as the Arch of Janus is thought, by some historians, to have been originally dedicated to Constantine himself or to his son, Constantine II. It was a pagan arch depicting the gods Minerva, Ceres, Juno, and Rome in the niches. There also exists another arch of similar design to the Arch of Janus in the area of Malborghetto, 10 kilometers from Rome along the via Flaminia. Some believe that this arch commemorates the vision of the cross said to have come to him on the site of the encampment of Constantine's army the night before battle.
On the Arch of Constantine that stands next to the Colosseum, one of the panels designed for the arch shows a scene of Constantine's army defeating that of Maxentius at the battle of the Milvian Bridge. This bridge is also located along the via Flaminia and is the point where Constantine's invasion of Rome was completed.
Other reliefs found on the Arch of Constantine were strategically taken from monuments of other previous emperors famous for their wisdom and generosity, to help improve and portray the image of Constantine. Panels taken from Marcus Aurelius' monument were of him making donations to the people. The statues were taken from the Forum of Trajan, captives bowing their heads as a sign of submission. Trajan defeated the Dacian kingdom and enriched Rome with the gold lying under it's mountains.