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architects of Rome at first adopted the Etruscan order, which was itself an

imitation of the Doric. The columns were massive, baseless, unadorned, and set at

greater distances from one another than in the classical method. Soon, however,

this primitive style was abandoned, and the Corinthian column, which on account

of its profusion and unchaste luxury of adornment had never been pleasing to the

perfect taste of the Greeks, was adopted instead of the Tuscan order. Nor was the

Roman content with the Corinthian capital as he found it. He introduced new

ornaments between the acanthus leaves, and set Ionic volutes among the foliage at

the four corners of the square. This modification, known thenceforth as the

Composite capital, became the central fact in the new Roman order, which was

adopted in all parts of the Empire.

Another modification, having respect to construction rather than artistic

adornment, was the use of the arch or vault, upon which a superstructure might be

sprung over wider spaces than by any other expedient. Though the arch was not

invented by the Romans, yet its use by them became so much more extensive than in

any other nation as to be properly considered peculiar to the architecture of

Italy. The earliest example of this valuable extension of the principle of the

vault was the Cloaca Maxima, constructed by the Etruscans in the early days of

the city. Further modifications of the same valuable architectural expedient were

the double or groined vault, and the cupola, or enclosure of a circular space

with contracting rings held by a keystone at the top. At the time when the

Republic crumbled, and the imperial regime was ushered in, all the new features

here described as belonging to the Corintho-Roman system of building had already

been established throughout Italy and in many of the provinces.

The success of the Cloaca Maxima and other similar vaulted sewers, by which the

city was drained into the Tiber, suggested the construction of those mighty

aqueducts through whose huge throats the cool, pure waters of the Sabine Hills

were poured into thirsty Rome. No obstacle was permitted to obstruct the progress

of these great works. In their building, distance was ignored, rivers bridged,

valleys and lowlands spanned with arches sometimes three tiers in height, and

mountains tunneled with surprising facility. The great aqueduct of the Anio was

at one point lifted one hundred and nine feet in the air, and that of Nemansus,

in the south of Gaul, had an elevation of more than two hundred feet. The waters

which supplied the imperial city flowed with the force of a torrent, through a

vast vaulted chamber, discharging at such an elevation as to supply the highest

parts of the city.

The architects of Rome were equally successful in the building of bridges. Where

ravines and marshlands lay in the way of a proposed thoroughfare, they were

spanned with tremendous viaducts and road-ways supported on piers and arches. The

broadest and swiftest rivers were so bridged as not to obstruct navigation. In

many parts of what was once the Roman Empire, imperishable piers and buttresses

still stand to attest the skill of those ancient builders who preceded the armies

of imperial Rome.

It was, however, in the introduction of the dome that the early Italian

architects achieved their greatest distinction. The best example of this

magnificent and enduring form of structure is the Pantheon, or temple, of All

Gods. It was completed by Marcus Agrippa, the general of Augustus, in the year,

B. C. 25. The edifice was in the Roman style, having a portico of columns so

arranged as to