This chapter presents an overview of the Arch of Constantine, which was completed within three years of Constantine's triumphal entry into Rome. Of all the Roman arches with three passageways, this is the most harmonious. The relief decoration of the exterior is extensive, but unlike some other heavily decorated arches—the Arch of Septimius Severus in the Roman Forum, or the arch at Orange in southern France, for example—the relief work does not overpower the architecture. The four tall, detached columns of the façades, each topped with a solemn barbarian captive, emphasize the structure of the whole and give depth to the façade. What seems to be a masterstroke of design, each façade carries four large reliefs in circular or almost circular frames. These are comfortably placed two over each of the side openings, with sufficient space around them for a background of porphyry revetment.
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