The Birth of Cities

It’s always a bit confusing at the onset
of studying art history when we’re
looking at through the Western scope
that we start with architecture through
this what you might notice is a
continuation of myth and identity being
cast from the early Roman Empire through
this present day whether you live in a
village a capital city or a small town
you will likely notice that something it
may even be your post office looks
something like Saint John’s Basilica
sports stadiums look a bit like the
colosseum that these early civilizations
from so long ago can continue to echo
through our lives endowed them with
great meaning so much so that it is
important we build a relationship
through art history and understand from
where the things around us came in what
their meanings have been as they
originally were and how they’re those
meanings changed over the course of
the evolution of cities evolves around
being organized the Greeks did this
through theatre they used it as a tool
to create a uniform code that was
understood by the masses civil codes of
conduct were important for keeping the
peace we still use these methods today
it may surprise you but theater
television the radio any any means of
communication to a mass audience is
similar in that it is imposing a shared
experience a unified experience on to a
large portion of people it’s not a life
experience where it’s one-on-one and it
is meant to oftentimes impose ideas
certain ideas certain feelings certain
outcomes and beliefs moral codes it
either destroys them or upholds them and
is the answer twice censorship is in
some countries used more than in others
as cities grew, they had to deal with some serious issues:
access to clean water trash removal
waste removal and a kind of agreed-upon
law; disease was something that needed to
be avoided at all costs and when it
wasn’t there was a population decline
cholera could easily spread Rome had
over a million people or it’s estimated
at a million people no western city will
have as big a population until the 19th
This is not to suggest that times were easy;
they were tough half the Roman subjects
died by the age of five of those still
alive at the age of ten half would die
by the time they were fifty years old a
Roman woman could expect their on
average between six and nine children
this is true anywhere in the world today
where high mortality rates are in
reality people turn to whatever they
they can for answers to things that they
find inexplicable during the time of the
early Roman Empire most were practicing
pagans some were practicing Christians
it was a place of plurality of many many
religions it wasn’t until the Emperor,
Constantine declared himself head of
┬áthe Christian church and —
he was already head of the empire — merged
himself into One, anointing himself as
head of both church and state. In doing
so Christianity is uniformly defacto the
religion of the Empire overnight places
like the Pantheon that were built for
Athena where there was a place to give
her flowers and food sits a pulpit where
you can put money statues will suffer
the same fate. Where there used to be
statues of gods and goddesses from the
Greek and Roman myths, there are angels
and there are saints. Pagan symbology is
absorbed into Christianity, as well you
will find the Sun the moon and other
symbols of nature
tucked within Christian arts and even
the holidays and with that the stability
of Rome paves a path for the birth of
universities beginning with Bologna in
the 12th hundreds these are places where
one can study theology as well as Law
many of the laws that were erected then
are still used today now if you’re
wondering what all this has to do with
art well we’re going to shift very soon
to paintings from that time period the
Middle Ages the eleven hundreds to the
1400s most of that will be commissioned
by the church; as such, you will see the
the subject matter is that of biblical
stories it’s um it’s used as a means to
educate the mass population part of this
is to impart moral codes and keep the
peace rather than theater there is
biblical stories told through murals
mosaics paintings statues and

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