The Pantheon

Known for its huge dome and the oculus (eye) in the middle of it, the Pantheon is one of Rome’s most wonderful engineering accomplishments. It is also a very well preserved building. In fact, it is the most well preserved building of the classical time period.

The Pantheon was first built by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. However, his work was destroyed in a fire in 80 C.E. All that we have left from that building is the inscription that was at the top of it which reads M AGRIPPA L F COS TERTIVM FECIT (Marcus Agrippa, the son of Lucius and consul for the third time, made this). Soon after it was destroyed, reconstruction of the temple began, but it was struck by lightning and once again caught on fire. Once again, soon after this happened, construction began on a third iteration of the temple, using the same inscription as the first, even though Agrippa didn’t build this iteration of the Pantheon. This version is still standing to this day.

Of course, the Pantheon in 123 C.E. would look different than the one today. The first major event after the completion of the Pantheon was repairs in 202 C.E.  Not too much of a change. Then,  in 609 C.E., after Christianity had become the dominant religion in Europe, the Pantheon was donated to Pope Boniface IV, who dedicated it to the Virgin Mary. In 663 C.E., the Byzantine emperor pillaged the temple and sent the treasures to Constantinople. Lastly, Pope Urban VIII tore off the bronze ceiling to make cannons and to decorate the baldachin of St. Peter’s in the 1630s.

There are many reasons why this building is still standing to this day. But the most important is how well the building was built. The Romans are known for their engineering skills. Their engineering  feats have surpassed even that of some of today’s best engineering feats. In fact, the building was made to last for a very long time, and Hadrian intentionally had the date of the site stamped onto a wall, just for the future generations to know when it was built.

 

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