Larry F. Ball/Sopraintendenza Archeologica di Roma

The elaborately detailed Arch of Septimius Severus (193–211 A.D.) perfectly embodies the credo of Roman emperors that bigger (and fancier) is better (compare with detail photo). As the Roman Empire expanded its power and influence, each ruler vied to outbuild and overshadow his predecessors. Situated directly across the Forum from the Arch of Titus, Septimius’s arch is an obvious effort to outdo the earlier monument. Instead of one central, perfectly proportioned arch, it has three; instead of several reliefs depicting a single military victory, it is covered with dozens of panels celebrating the military achievements of Septimius Severus during the first ten years of his reign.