The Monuments of Christian Rome from Constantine to the Renaissance

The Monuments of Christian Rome from Constantine to the Renaissance

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The Monuments of Christian Rome from Constantine to the Renaissance

The Monuments of Christian Rome from Constantine to the Renaissance

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Excerpt

The complexity of Rome is at once an allurement and a source of despair. As a growing modern capital it turns its back upon its past, and as a historic museum it bristles with periods and styles so varied they cannot be set forth with the lucidity that makes the art of Athens comparatively easy to grasp.

The present epitome of one group of these phases reflects the artistic life of Rome as a Christian city and the general features of its history and culture from the day when the Emperor Constantine stopped the era of persecution and raised the Christian Labarum as his standard, until that when the mediæval Papacy, after a glorious history, was forced to abdicate its world-power and to leave Rome for Avignon, reducing the city to the lowest ebb of desolation.

When Rome rises again under the Popes of the Renaissance, it will not be by its own efforts or with its peculiar traits unchanged. The new Rome will be a composite picture reflecting the handiwork of Tuscans, of Lombards and of Umbrians: a Rome at war with itself, tearing frantically at its own historic vitals and every day making a mock and travesty of its past. Rome of the Romans is no more.

This old Rome from Constantine to the Renaissance is itself a varied pageant. For nearly two centuries after his death it remained a decapitalized, unambitious Rome, pauperized by imperial bounty, drunk with corruption, hypnotized by vile plays, indifferent to apostles, occupied with a round of baths, games and gossip, clogged with a surfeit of villas, fine raiment and delicate eating, careless of the crumbling away of the ancient world about it under the blows of the barbarians.

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