Arches of Triumph


Who doesn’t want their triumphs celebrated forever in the form of an arch? Constantine certainly did. Above is a photo I took before a stroll through Prospect Park, a photo of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch at Grand Army Plaza. This arch, as well as that which commemorates Constantine’s victory at the Battle of Milvian Bridge, is a Triumphal Arch. They share many similarities in architectural style and function. Being Triumphal Arches, both serve tribute to a great victory; that pictured above is dedicated “To the Defenders of the Union”. They are a similar height, at 21 and 24 meters. Finally they both feature column like pieces surrounding the arches; the columns are of the Corinthian order.

Although the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch is very visually appealing, nothing could beat the extravagance of the Arch of Constantine. The latter has not only one arch, but three. While the former lacks three arches, it has three bronze sculptures that were added a few years after it was built. Brooklyn’s triumphal arch also shows a new take on the Corinthian column, with their lack of fluting. One of the most profound differences between these two structures is spolia. Much of the Arch of Constantine was spolia, taking the Roman’s accomplishment of arches and using it against them. Constantine is shown to have truly won Rome with this arch, and he takes advantage of that. The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch does not use spolia, it is simply in the architectural structure of a Triumphal Arch.

Sheila Kelly, Team Saturn