A Word a Week Challenge: Old

One of the most recognized and oldest of all Roman buildings the Pantheon, a temple consecrated to all gods, was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa (31 BC), and rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in about 126 AD. It had long been thought that the current building was built by Agrippa, and this was in part because of the inscription on the front of the temple “M·AGRIPPA·L·F·COS·TERTIUM·FECIT” meaning “Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, made this building when consul for the third time”.

However, archaeological excavations have shown that the Pantheon of Agrippa had been completely destroyed except for the façade, and Emperor Hadrian was responsible for rebuilding the Pantheon on the site of Agrippa’s original temple.

The original use of the Pantheon is somewhat unknown, except that it was classified as a temple. However, it is unknown as to how the people worshipped in the building, because the structure of the temple is so different from other traditional Roman temples such as in the Roman Forum.

In the 7th century the temple was converted into a Christian church, consecrated to Santa Maria dei Martiri thus being saved from the abandonment, destruction, and spoliation that befell the majority of ancient Rome’s buildings during the early medieval period.

Since the Renaissance the Pantheon has been used as a burial place and now contains the tombs of the famous artist Raphael and of several Italian kings.

The building has been in continuous use throughout its history. Today it is still used as a church; masses are celebrated there, in particular on important Catholic days.

A few facts about the design:

The interior design of the Roman Pantheon is a striking synthesis of tradition and innovation. The dimensions of the interior height and the diameter of the dome are the same (43.2m). The architect, who is unknown, did this on purpose to show the harmony of the building. The marble veneer that we see today on the interior was for the most part added later. However, the Roman Pantheon in its present state allows us a glimpse into the marvelous and stunning world of Roman architecture. The dome would have been gilded to look like the heavenly sphere of all the gods that the name Pantheon evokes. The oculus was an engineering gem of the Roman world. No oculus had even dared come close in size to the one in the Pantheon. It is still lined with the original Roman bronze and is the main source of light for the whole building. As the earth turns the light flows in to circle the interior making the viewer aware of the magnificence of the cosmos. The oculus was never covered and rain falls into the interior and runs off the slightly convex floor to the still functioning Roman drainpipes underneath.

The Roman Pantheon boasts mathematical genius and simple geometry that today still impresses architects and amazes the eyes of casual viewers.



Click here  to find out more about Sue’s challenge.

59 Comments on “A Word a Week Challenge: Old

  1. You know we were talking language earlier, Paula? I have to say that your command of the English language is superb. Excellent piece.


          • I guess it was obvious. It must be tiring. Do you enjoy it, or purely a means to an end? (disregarding the bitch problems)


            • I used to love it, especially when I translated literature from French into my mother tongue. Later I undertook technical translation Eng-Cro-Eng, and I have been doing this for 14 years now. I would not dare go back to teaching or even being a tour guide that were some of my earlier jobs. I can say I still like what I do and I am glad when I can learn something new while doing it, though technical translation is not challenging enough for a linguist.. it has more to do with understanding the subject matter and mastering the terminology than brushing up the language :(. Still, I would be happy to keep my job, if you know what I mean. Thank you for your interest Jo. It means a lot. xo


  2. Great post! I love, love majestic Pantheon! Wonderful description. So funny, I was planning to do a post for Pantheon in the near future… 🙂
    You speak three languages, Wow! I admire you, Paula!


    • No, I speak five (and the sixth one just to get around) :D. It is not a big deal…..
      I would be happy to see your Pantheon post, Amy 🙂


    • My pleasure, Alessandro. The Pantheon is impressive! I am glad to hear your are a regular in there 😉


  3. Excellent post, Paula! I love the Pantheon, I feel like going back to Rome straight away now. 🙂
    Have a great start in a wonderful week.


  4. I love this! I have never really looked at the Pantheon in this light, or considered how strange it must have been to use it in a Chrstian context at the beginning. Great post.


  5. Thank you very much for the history lesson. I like the photo too. One can only imagine what the crowds would have looked like back when this was built.


  6. Pingback: Rome – Sequel II | Lost in Translation

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