Arch for Constantine

Arch of Constantine before the Colosseum, seen from the Via Triumphalis.

The Arch of Constantine is located on prime real estate at the end of the one of the longest, straightest stretches of the Via Triumphalis. This route leads into the majesty of the Colosseum Valley. As one approached the Arch up the Via Triumphalis, one would see - first above the Arch, and then through its passageways - the Colossus of Sol, the sun god, which stood next to the Colosseum, and is known through ancient representations.1 The alignment of the Arch and the triumphal chariot statue which once stood on its attic with the Colossus, when considered alongside the abundant imagery of Sol on the Arch’s reliefs and on images of Constantine himself, heavily reinforced Constantine’s association with the sun god. This link was particularly compelling, since a god that represented invincibility, eternity, and dominion over the East was appealing in an empire threatened by civil wars and Eastern enemies.


1. Elizabeth Marlowe, “Framing the Sun: The Arch of Constantine and the Roman Cityscape,” Art Bulletin 83 (2006): 223-242.