Posted on 09/25/2010

Photo taken on June 14, 2007

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Thessalonikis District
Thessaloniki Capital
Galerius Arch

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PICT17824ac Thessaloniki Arch of Galerius 298 A.D Left Jamb

PICT17824ac Thessaloniki Arch of Galerius 298 A.D Left Jamb
Understanding of the sculptural program of the arch is necessarily limited by the loss of the majority of the marble panels, but what remains gives an impression of the whole; There were four vertically stacked registers of sculpted decoration on each pillar, each separated by elaborate moldings; The presence of a label for the Tigris river indicates that there were likely labels on others representations as the builders deemed necessary; It is clear that a certain degree of artistic license was taken in the representations, since the Caesar Galerius is shown in personal combat with the Sassanid Shah Narses in one of the panels; in fact, they never met in battle; The panel on the arch has a mounted Galerius attacking a similarly mounted Narses with a lance as an eagle flies down upon Galerius bearing a victory wreath in its talons; The Caesar sits securely on his rearing horse, while the Persian king appears at the point of being unhorsed; Terrified Persians cower under the hooves of the Caesar’s horse in the chaos of battle; The message of the panel is a competence and power of the Caesar Galerius; Down left, the relief of the imperial family conjoined in a sacrifice of thanksgiving owes its distant prototype to the Augustan reliefs on the Ara Pacis in Rome; The presence at his side of Galerius' wife, Diocletian's daughter Valeria, served to authenticate his links to his predessor; Here as elsewhere all the faces have been carefully chiselled off, whether as damnatio memoriae or in Christian intolerance of images; In another panel, the tetrarchs are all arrayed in the toga as a Victoria holds a victory wreath out to the heads of the two Augusti. A third panel celebrates the unity and strength of the tetrarchy with a depiction of the tetrarchs standing in unison; the depersonalized manner in which the tetrarchs are portrayed is reminiscent of the schematic statues of the tetrarchs in porphyry at St. Mark's Basilica in Venice; In this instance, only Galerius is dressed in armor, and he makes the offering upon the altar; More than simply depicting the victory of the Caesar Galerius, what remains of the arch asserts the glory of the tetrarchy and the prominence of Galerius within that system; The arch celebrates the relevance to the Roman Empire as a whole of Galerius’ victory over the Sassanid king; Greece Macedonia Thessalonikis District Thessaloniki Capital Galerius Arch.

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