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Introduction: Architecture As An Art

Architecture is the only art in which the Romans showed any creative activity. Corresponding as it were to a national taste, it was the only art which could not only effectively promote the ambitious aims of the state and its universal dominion, but also adequately expressed the consciousness of its right to the empire of the world. While dependent upon Greek influence in all other departments of art, in architecture the Romans have created those absolutely original works which, in spite of thousands of years, even at the present day produce an effect so powerful and 'almost stupefying'1 - works with which Greek art has nothing to compare. . . . The absolute necessity and the high importance of architecture in public as well as private life explains why it was considered the most respectable of all arts. . . . Probably it was the most lucrative art not only in Rome but in all the large cities of the empire, and consequently overcrowded. In the ranks of architects Roman citizens were found by the side of slaves, freedmen and foreigners in Republican as well as Imperial times.2