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The Romans cut off rather than absorbed the one significant development on Italian soil, the Etruscan, and turned to import decadent Greek sculptors, decorators, and painters to give a Hellenistic surfacing to their culture.
In the aesthetic scales the contribution of mighty Rome weighs more lightly than that of tiny states such as Sumeria and Siena.
Grandeur was Rome's goal, grandeur her one achievement, and perhaps also the secret of the shallowness of her art.
The desire to impress by bigness led to magnificent works of engineering and building.
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Architecture of Ancient Rome Roman Characteristics Influences Building Techniques: Arch, Vault, Dome Influence of Ancient Greece Use of Concrete Building Materials Temples Basilicas The Pantheon Theatres Amphitheatres Public Baths Triumphal Arches Bridges, Aqueducts Roman Roads Lighthouses Urban Planning, Houses, Residential Architecture Legacy Famous Roman Buildings Leaders of Ancient Rome most associated with architecture as a form of political and urban art, include: Augustus (27 BCE-14 CE) Tiberius (14-37) Caligula (37-41) Claudius (41-54) Nero (54-68) Vespasian (69-79) Titus (79-81) Domitian (81-96) Trajan (98-117) Hadrian (117-138) Antoninus Pius (138-161) Marcus Aurelius (161-180) Caracalla (211-217) Diocletian (284-305) Maxentius (306-312) Constantine I (306-337)Roman architecture, even more than the rest of Roman art, reflected the practical character, restless energy and organizational mindset of its creators.
Hellenic moderation and reasonableness became Roman practicality and Roman swagger.
A glance around the main forum in Rome (1st century BCE - 3rd Century CE) would have given any observer a birds-eye view of the city's architecture: old temples, increasingly complex and graceful and adorned, but with something of Greek simplicity and harmony persisting, set among palaces, basilicas, memorial columns, and arcades; on every side magnificent arched construction, grand vistas, and banks of columns crowned by rich Corinthian capitals; on every side a profusion of vulgarized Greek ornament, interspersed with new panels of Roman relief sculpture: in all, a wonderful display of grandeur and exhibitionism.
As soon as Rome takes on importance politically and culturally - that is, as soon as adjoining Etruria has been subjugated and Carthage successfully challenged - the spirit that dominates the arts is that of the conqueror and the celebrator.
Roman architects absorbed a great deal from Etruscan art and design, and had huge respect for both Greek architecture and Greek sculpture.
They also learned from Egyptian pyramid architecture and stonework.
Architecture, for instance, becomes dominated not by temples, but by the Forum or trading place, the basilica or public meeting-hall, the baths, the sports arenas, the theatres and circuses, many of which are constructed in colossal size, and lavishly ornamented.