by Charlotte Adlam
[student, Rome Sketchbook course, July 2012]
The main reason I chose to study in Rome is because of the history. But maybe what I didn't quite realize is that history is ever changing. When I go to a monument, I am not only fascinated by what remains, but also by what used to stand there. Over time, every monument has been altered. I find it interesting that something as grand as the colosseum would be broken into all over it's surface, simply for metal. The holes all over the outside are clear with just a glance, but that is not true for all monuments. One can notice differences atThe Pantheon if you really look at it. When looking at it from the front, the columns on the left are entirely different. This is because there used to be a building attached on the left side.
When the building was removed, new columns were placed. Another monument that has been altered is the complex Santa Maria Maggiore. Initially it was a rectangular basilica, and throughout the years, there have been many additions of side chapels, decorations, and connected buildings. As class continues, I am eager to find more alterations to the monuments that may not be as obvious to just the common tourist.
The Portico d'Ottavia was built in 27 B.C. by Augustus. He constructed this passageway for his sister, Octavia. What still stands today has nowhere near the grandiosity of its original glory. As the sketch of the original monument demonstrates, it was very long, running around 132 meters long. Sketched are the dainty remains of the side columns. The sketch of the original also shows its width, as there are structures attached in the background. It was 119 meters wide. Even though the monument appears to be made of brick in several places, it is believed that it was originally covered in marble, with various art works inside (Pliny mentions 34 bronze equestrian statues of Alexander and his officers by Lysippus, the statue now called the 'Medici Venus', a statue of Cornelia which was reputed to be the first statue of a woman on public display in Rome, bronze and marble statues decorated the facades of the Portico). Some marble that remains are stairs on one side of the monument. They most likely lined up with the side columns, leading one inside.
The sketch of the original compared to what remains is quite different. Over time, the monument has been altered. For example, in 204 A.D. it was restored by Caracalla and Septimius Severus. Then in the 5th century, there was a massive earthquake that caused a lot of damage to it. As a result, the portico was reconfigured. This reconfiguration can be seen in the sketch of the facade of present day. Where there used to be 6 entrance columns, now stands only 3, with an arch way.