Pantheon in Rome
The Pantheon ( or ; , from , an adjective meaning "to every god") is a building in Rome, Italy, commissioned by Marcus Agrippa as a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome, and rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in about 126 AD. The nearly-contemporary writer (2nd–3rd centuries AD), Cassius Dio, speculated that the name comes either from the statues of so many gods placed around this building, or else from the resemblance of the dome to the heavens. Since the French Revolution, when the church of Sainte-Geneviève, Paris, was deconsecrated and turned into a secular monument, the Panthéon of Paris, the generic term pantheon has sometimes been applied to other buildings in which illustrious dead are honored or buried. the square in front of the Pantheon is called Piazza della Rotonda.
In the aftermath of the Battle of Actium (31 BC), Marcus Agrippa built and dedicated the original Pantheon during his third consulship (27 BCE). Located in the Campus Martius, at the time of its construction, the area of the Pantheon was on the outskirts of Rome, and the area had a rural appearance. Under the Roman Republic the Campus Martius had served as a gathering place for elections and the army. However, under Augustus and the new Principate both institutions were deemed to be unnecessary within the city.
The construction of the Pantheon was part of a program of construction that was undertaken by Augustus Caesar and his supporters. They built more than twenty structures on the Campus Martius, including the Baths of Agrippa and the Saepta Julia. It had long been thought that the current building was built by Agrippa, with later alterations undertaken, and this was in part because of the inscription on the front of the temple. The inscription across the front of the Pantheon says, M.AGRIPPA.L.F.COS.TERTIUM.FECIT, meaning "Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, having been consul three times, built it." However, archaeological excavations have shown that the Pantheon of Agrippa had been completely destroyed, and Emperor Hadrian was responsible for rebuilding the Pantheon on the site of Agrippa's original temple. There had been two earlier buildings on the same spot, for which the new Pantheon was a replacement.
The form of Agrippa's Pantheon is debated. Therefore, the design of the building should not be credited to Hadrian or his architects. Instead, the design of the existent building might belong to Trajan's architect Apollodorus of Damascus. The only other loss has been the external sculptures, which adorned the pediment above Agrippa's inscription. The marble interior has largely survived, although with extensive restoration.
Since the Renaissance the Pantheon has been used as a tomb. Among those buried there are the painters Raphael and Annibale Carracci, the composer Arcangelo Corelli, and the architect Baldassare Peruzzi. In the 15th century, the Pantheon was adorned with paintings: The best-known is the Annunciation by Melozzo da Forlì. Architects, like Brunelleschi, who used the Pantheon as help when designing the Cathedral of Florence's dome, looked to the Pantheon as inspiration for their works.
Pope Urban VIII (1623 to 1644) ordered the bronze ceiling of the Pantheon's portico melted down. Most of the bronze was used to make bombards for the fortification of Castel Sant'Angelo, with the remaining amount used by the Apostolic Camera for various other works. It is also said that the bronze was used by Bernini in creating his famous baldachin above the high altar of St. Peter's Basilica, but, according to at least one expert, the Pope's accounts state that about 90% of the bronze was used for the cannon, and that the bronze for the baldachin came from Venice. This led the Roman satirical figure Pasquino to issue the famous proverb: Quod non fecerunt barbari fecerunt Barberini ("What the barbarians did not do the Barberini [Urban VIII's family name] did").
In 1747, the broad frieze below the dome with its false windows was “restored,” but bore little resemblance to the original. In the early decades of the twentieth century, a piece of the original, as could be reconstructed from Renaissance drawings and paintings, was recreated in one of the panels.
Two kings of Italy are buried in the Pantheon: Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I, as well as Umberto's Queen, Margherita. Although Italy has been a republic since 1946, volunteer members of Italian monarchist organisations maintain a vigil over the royal tombs in the Pantheon. This has aroused protests from time to time from republicans, but the Catholic authorities allow the practice to continue, although the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage is in charge of the security and maintenance.
The Pantheon is still used as a church. Masses are celebrated there, in particular on important Catholic days of obligation and weddings.
The building was originally approached by a flight of steps. The ground level in the surrounding area has risen considerably since antiquity. Finite element analysis of the structure by Mark and Hutchison found a maximum tensile stress of only 18.5 psi at the point where the dome joins the raised outer wall. The stresses in the dome were found to be substantially reduced by the use of successively less dense aggregate stones in higher layers of the dome. Mark and Hutchison estimated that, if normal weight concrete had been used throughout, the stresses in the arch would have been some 80% greater. Hidden chambers engineered within the rotunda form a sophisticated honeycomb structure. This reduced the weight of the roof, as did the elimination of the apex by means of the oculus.
The top of the rotunda wall features a series of brick relieving arches, visible on the outside and built into the mass of the brickwork. The Pantheon is full of such devices – for example, there are relieving arches over the recesses inside – but all these arches were hidden by marble facing on the interior and possibly by stone revetment or stucco on the exterior.
The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 43.3 m, so the whole interior would fit exactly within a cube (also, the interior could house a sphere 43.3 m in diameter). These dimensions make more sense when expressed in ancient Roman units of measurement: The dome spans 150 Roman feet; the oculus is 30 Roman feet in diameter; the doorway is 40 Roman feet high. The Pantheon still holds the record for the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. It is also substantially larger than earlier domes.
Though often drawn as a free-standing building, there was a building at its rear into which it abutted. While this building helped buttress the rotunda, there is no interior passage from one to the other.
The interior of the dome was possibly intended to symbolize the arched vault of the heavens.
On the first niche to the left of the entrance is an Assumption (1638) by Andrea Camassei. The first chapel on the left, is the Chapel of St Joseph in the Holy Land, and is the chapel of the Confraternity of the Virtuosi at the Pantheon. This refers to the confraternity of artists and musicians that was formed here by a 16th-century Canon of the church, Desiderio da Segni, to ensure that worship was maintained in the chapel. The first members were, among others, Antonio da Sangallo the younger, Jacopo Meneghino, Giovanni Mangone, Zuccari, Domenico Beccafumi, and Flaminio Vacca. The confraternity continued to draw members from the elite of Rome's artists and architects, and among later members we find Bernini, Cortona, Algardi, and many others. The institution still exists, and is now called the Academia Ponteficia di Belle Arti (The Pontifical Academy of Fine Arts), based in the palace of the Cancelleria. The altar in the chapel is covered with false marble. On the altar is a statue of St Joseph and the Holy Child by Vincenzo de Rossi. To the sides are paintings (1661) by Francesco Cozza, one of the Virtuosi: Adoration of the Shepherds on left side and Adoration of the Magi on right. The stucco relief on the left, Dream of St Joseph, is by Paolo Benaglia, and the one on the right, Rest during the flight from Egypt, is by Carlo Monaldi. On the vault are several 17th-century canvases, from left to right: Cumean Sibyl by Ludovico Gimignani; Moses by Francesco Rosa; Eternal Father by Giovanni Peruzzini; David by Luigi Garzi; and Eritrean Sibyl by Giovanni Andrea Carlone.
The second niche has a statue of St Agnes, by Vincenco Felici. The bust on the left is a portrait of Baldassare Peruzzi, derived from a plaster portrait by Giovanni Duprè. The tomb of King Umberto I and his wife Margherita di Savoia is in the next chapel. The chapel was originally dedicated to St Michael the Archangel, and then to St. Thomas the Apostle. The present design is by Giuseppe Sacconi, completed after his death by his pupil Guido Cirilli. The tomb consists of a slab of alabaster mounted in gilded bronze. The frieze has allegorical representations of Generosity, by Eugenio Maccagnani, and Munificence, by Arnaldo Zocchi. The royal tombs are maintained by the National Institute of Honour Guards to the Royal Tombs, founded in 1878. They also organize picket guards at the tombs. The altar with the royal arms is by Cirilli.
The third niche holds the mortal remains – his Ossa et cineres, "Bones and ashes", as the inscription on the sarcophagus says – of the great artist Raphael. His fiancée, Maria Bibbiena is buried to the right of his sarcophagus; she died before they could marry. The sarcophagus was given by Pope Gregory XVI, and its inscription reads ILLE HIC EST RAPHAEL TIMUIT QUO SOSPITE VINCI / RERUM MAGNA PARENS ET MORIENTE MORI, meaning "Here lies Raphael, by whom the mother of all things (Nature) feared to be overcome while he was living, and while he was dying, herself to die". The epigraph was written by Pietro Bembo. The present arrangement is from 1811, designed by Antonio Munoz. The bust of Raphael (1833) is by Giuseppe Fabris. The two plaques commemorate Maria Bibbiena and Annibale Carracci. Behind the tomb is the statue known as the Madonna del Sasso (Madonna of the Rock) so named because she rests one foot on a boulder. It was commissioned by Raphael and made by Lorenzetto in 1524.
In the Chapel of the Crucifixion, the Roman brick wall is visible in the niches. The wooden crucifix on the altar is from the 15th century. On the left wall is a Descent of the Holy Ghost (1790) by Pietro Labruzi. On the right side is the low relief Cardinal Consalvi presents to Pope Pius VII the five provinces restored to the Holy See (1824) made by the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen. The bust is a portrait of Cardinal Agostino Rivarola. The final niche on this side has a statue of St. Rasius (S. Erasio) (1727) by Francesco Moderati.<ref name="Marder1" />
Works modeled on, or inspired by, the Pantheon
As the best-preserved example of an Ancient Roman monumental building, the Pantheon has been enormously influential in Western architecture from at least the Renaissance on; starting with Brunelleschi's 42-meter dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, completed in 1436. Some have gone so far as to describe the Pantheon's form as "perhaps the most influential ... in Western Europe", and it is held as a "symbol of the highest architectural excellence".<ref name="Thomas 1997 163-165"/> The style of the Pantheon can be detected in many buildings of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; numerous city halls, universities, and public libraries echo its portico-and-dome structure.
- Pantheon, Moscow
- Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence
- Panthéon, Paris
- Volkshalle (structure inspired by the Pantheon)
- List of Roman domes
- List of megalithic sites
- List of the oldest buildings in the world
- Roman engineering
- Roman mythology
- Piazza della Rotonda
- Pantheon Rome, Virtual Panorama and photo gallery
- Pantheon, article in Platner's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome
- Pantheon, excerpt from Rodolfo Lanciani's Ruins and Excavations of Ancient Rome 1897
- Roman Concrete Research
- Live Pantheon Webcam
- Tomás García Salgado, "The geometry of the Pantheon's vault"
- Roman Bookshelf – Views of the Pantheon from the 18th and 19th Century
- Pantheon Project at the Karman Center for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Bern, Switzerland Bibliography, Sections, Laser Scanning Data
- Pantheon at Great Buildings/Architecture Week website
- Art & History Pantheon
- Summer solstice at the Pantheon
- Video Introduction to the Pantheon