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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/448

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Part II.

The third five-aisled basilica, that of San Giovanni Laterano, differs in no essential respect from those just described except in dimensions; it covers about 60,000 feet, and consequently is inferior in this respect to the other two. It has been so completely altered in modern times that its primitive arrangements can now hardly be discerned, nor can their effect be judged of, even assuming that they were peculiar to it, which, however, is by no means certain.

Like the other two, it appears to have been originally erected by Constantine, who seems especially to have affected this five-aisled form. The churches which lie erected at Jerusalem and Bethlehem both have this number of aisles. From the similarity which exists in the design of all these churches we might easily restore this building, if it were worth while. Its dimensions can easily be traced, but beyond this nothing remains of the original erection.

Of those with three aisles by far the finest and most beautiful is that of Sta. Maria Maggiore, which, notwithstanding the comparative

277. Plan of Sta Maria Maggiore. Scale 100 ft to 1 in.

smallness of its dimensions, is now perhaps the best specimen of its class remaining. Internally its dimensions are 100 feet in width by 250 to the front of the apse; the whole area being about 32,000 feet; so that it is little more than half the size of the Lateran church, and between one-third and one-fourth of that of the other two five-aisled churches.

Notwithstanding this there is great beauty in its internal colonnade, all the pillars of which are of one design, and bear a most pleasing proportion to the superstructure. The clerestory, too, is ornamented with pilasters and panels, making it a part of the general design; and with the roof, which is panelled with constructive propriety and simplicity, combined with sufficient richness, serves to make up a whole which gives a far better and more complete idea of what a basilica either was originally, or at least might have been, than any other church at Rome. It is true that the pilasters of the clerestory and the roof are modern, and in modern times the colonnade has been broken through in two places; but these defects must be overlooked in judging of the whole.

Another defect is that the side-aisles have been vaulted in modern times, and in such a manner as to destroy the harmony that should exist between the different parts of the building. In striving to avoid the defect of making the superstructure too high in proportion to the columns, the architect has made the central roof too low either for the