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The Murray Seminars on Reading an Ancient Monument in Renaissance Rome

Venue: Birkbeck 43 Gordon Square

No booking required

Constructed by the emperor Septimius Severus, the Septizodium was one of ancient Rome’s most distinctive monuments. It took the form of a scaenae frons, or theatre backdrop, with three floors of superimposed Corinthian columns and bays that alternately projected and recessed. By the fifteenth century, however, the structure had been reduced to one and a half bays, and its curious form gave rise to speculation about its original function. Some considered it to be the entrance to the emperor’s palace or a statement of imperial might; others believed that it had once risen to seven floors; yet others thought it served as the tomb of Severus. This paper will examine these and other aspects of the Septizodium’s rich and diverse architectural fortuna, and explore how interpretations of the monument determined the reuse of elements of its design in Renaissance building projects.

All this term’s seminars take place in the History of Art Department at Birkbeck (43, Gordon Sq., London WC1H 0PD) in Room 114 (The Keynes Library) at 5pm. Talks finish by 5.50pm (allowing those with other commitments to leave) and are then followed by discussion and refreshments. We hope to see you there.

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