Roman Architecture Essay

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Architecture acts as a tool of power, symbolizing authority and politics. “Architecture influences people by making a concrete structure which is present in the material world” (Peter J. Wilston). This structure appears in a society, creating a physical base, and allowing people to form ideas. More so, this physical base allows people to further explore and think about ideas of the structure that may have existed. Architecture provides clear enclosed spaces with a distinction of outdoor and indoor spaces, allowing people to think about the structure and the overall architecture.

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About power, architecture indicates and identifies power. An individual’s status can be indicated by their control over others. This means how others perceive them, their capacity for leadership, their power, their wealth, and other ways they are set apart from the general population. Architecture can demonstrate all these attributes, making it an important indicator of status. This is evident in the basilica in Roman cities. Basilicas in Rome showed evident concepts of Roman authority for people of the Roman Empire. Roman architecture is a prime example of power in architecture. Basilicas contained an enclosed space with apses points, and symmetry, and were regularly the centred building of public power. Basilicas symbolized the Roman law, power, authority of classical culture, literature, religion, tradition, and even the public life of the people. In addition to this, the organization and disposition of buildings also symbolized a sense of power. This reinforces the idea that architecture acts as a tool of power, symbolizing authority and politics. Most leaders used architecture as a form of intimidation and control through their built environment and used it as a visual testament to their strength and control of the people. An example of this includes The Arc de Triumphed or the St Peter's Basilica. Architecture played an essential role in strengthening the empire and was vital to the success of Rome and the role of representing power. Even in a Western contemporary context, reminders of the culture and tradition of the Roman Empire are still located throughout the Western world cities.

Expanding on to the idea of architecture and power is, the leader’s relationship to the building. The leader controls the construction of the building which depicts the relationship between power and architecture as it shows how it can make an individual powerful (Molly Glenn 2003). Monumental architecture differs from vernacular architecture as it is generally used for public and political reasons. Monuments are built by leaders and are primarily buildings that are used for political purposes. Monuments are designed by the leader, who starts the building process, and is normally larger than other buildings. These monuments stand out from ordinary buildings, as they are built with the intent of making an impression. This means that monumental architecture is built by those with power, presenting evidence of the leader's power. As Wilson stated “Monumental architecture embodies the leader’s ability to control and affect his followers. It shows his power and demonstrates his worth and capacity to have power.” Overall presenting the idea that architecture can act as a tool of power, symbolizing authority and even politics.

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Roman Architecture Essay. (2024, February 28). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 18, 2024, from
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