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12. The Creation of an Icon: The Colosseum and Contemporary Architecture in Rome

Roman Architecture (HSAR 252)

Professor Kleiner features the tumultuous year of 68-69 when Rome had four competing emperors. Vespasian emerged the victor, founded the Flavian dynasty, and was succeeded by his sons, Titus and Domitian. The Flavians were especially adept at using architecture to shape public policy. Professor Kleiner demonstrates that Vespasian linked himself with the divine Claudius by completing the Claudianum and distanced himself from Nero by razing the Domus Aurea to the ground and filling in the palace’s artificial lake. In that location, Vespasian built the Flavian Amphitheater, nicknamed the Colosseum, thereby returning to the people land earlier stolen by Nero. Professor Kleiner discusses the technical and aesthetic features of the Colosseum at length, and surveys Vespasian’s Forum Pacis and Titus’ Temple to Divine Vespasian. The lecture concludes with the Baths of Titus, Rome’s first preserved example of the so-called “imperial bath type” because of its grand scale, axiality, and symmetry.

00:00 – Chapter 1. The Year 68-69 and The Founding of the Flavian Dynasty
11:42 – Chapter 2. The Claudianum or The Temple of Divine Claudius
19:52 – Chapter 3. The Colosseum: Icon of Rome
33:17 – Chapter 4. The Colosseum as a Post-Antique Quarry
44:30 – Chapter 5. The Forum or Templum Pacis
01:01:39 – Chapter 6. The Imperial Baths of Titus

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website:

This course was recorded in Spring 2009.

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