Detail from the Arch of Constantine, Rome.

Constantine’s arch commemorates his victory over Maxentius at the battle of the Milvian Bridge, in 312 AD. The arch uses spolia, so it re-uses earlier decorative fragments to put upon the new arch. Similarities can be seen on the Arch of Septimius Severus.


The Roman Emperor

The roll of Emperors spans more than 500 years of Roman History. All of those listed below bore the title; ten of the most famous are pictured above. The list has been simpilfied by excluding certain usurpers, claimants and co-emperors of little importance. The emperors’ reigns varies enormously. The Golden Age of Augustus lasted 41 years, and Theodosius II served for 42 years; but in the troubled years of 68-69 AD, Galba, Otho and Vitellius averaged less than six months on the throne. By the end of the 4th Century, during the reign of Honorius, the empire had been permanently divided, with separate rulers for the West, in Rome, and for the East, in Constantinople. 


October 27th 312: Constantine’s vision

On this day in 312 AD, the Roman Emperor Constantine I had his famous ‘Vision of the Cross’. The vision occurred before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in which Constantine would fight Maxentius. Constantine supposedly saw a cross in the sky with the words ‘By this sign conquer’. He was commanded by the Christian God to draw the mark of Christ on his soldiers’ shields in order to secure victory. Constantine then proceeded to win the battle and many consider this a pivotal moment in his conversion to Christianity. Constantine’s conversion led to the end of Christian persecution in the Roman Empire and, through imperial patronage, Christianity spread throughout Europe and became the dominant religion.


Ancient Worlds - BBC Two 

Episode 6 “City of Man, City of God”

Villa Adriana is a large complex of over 30 buildings, constructed at Tibur (modern-day Tivoli) as a retreat from Rome for Roman Emperor Hadrian during  the second and third decades of the 2nd century AD. 

The complex combined the best elements of the architectural heritage of Egypt, Greece and Rome in the form of an ‘ideal city’. It included palaces, several thermae, theatre, temples, libraries, state rooms, and quarters for courtiers, praetorians, and slaves. Some areas are still unexcavated. One of the most spectacular and best preserved parts of the villa are a pool and an artificial grotto which were named Canopus and Serapeum. The villa was the greatest Roman example of an Alexandrian garden.

A large court lived there permanently. During the later years of his reign Hadrian actually governed the empire from the villa.

After Hadrian’s death in 138, his successors preferred Rome as their permanent residence but the villa continued to be enlarged and further embellished. The complex was sacked and plundered by successive barbarian invaders, fell into neglect and was partially ruined.

Many artefacts have been found and restored at the villa, such as marble statues and mosaics from the theatre and baths

Villa Adriana, Tivoli, Italy

Roman marble bust of Antoninus Pius.

Antoninus Pius was born in 86 AD and died in 161 AD. He was Roman Emperor from 138 AD through to his death, and was happily married to Faustina the Elder. Together they bore four children (two sons and two daughters); one of the daughters was Faustina the Younger, who went on to marry emperor Marcus Aurelius, who succeeded Antoninus’ title.