Successful Writing Samples

Writing Samples


Here are some examples of written assignments, meant to give you an idea of my expectations in this area of the course.

When I am grading written assignments, the largest area of concern comes with footnotes. The proper documentation of your sources for written information is very important, and if not attempted correctly amounts to plagiarism.

If you are copying material from a source, you must make a notation using quotes, and footnotes. At the end of the essay you will include a complete list of all of the texts, and websites used for your essay. I do not have any particular style that I require, a number at the end of a sentence will suffice. Here is a website that you might use to learn more about proper notation :

Below, you will find two examples of successful essays given quality grades:

Notice the lengths of the essay, and the frequent use of footnotes used in the body of the text. At the end of the essay , notice the extensive sources used in writing the essay. The writers are not just using the text, or one website.

The following essay will discuss three different monuments: the Arch of Titus, the Arch of Constantine and the Parthenon. Attention will be paid to the detail of each and in what ways the style and subject matter reflect the times. It will also note similarities and differences among the three pieces as the essay develops.

Successful Essay 1

The Arch of Titus commemorates Titus’ capture of Jerusalem in 70ce and was commissioned by his brother Domitian, when he took the throne in 81ce. (1) It sits on the Via Sacra which is south east of the Forum in Rome. The Arch of Titus is considered a “Triumphal Arch,” which according to Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia online: “is a structure in the shape of a monumental archway, usually built to celebrate a victory in way.” The Arch of Titus is a free standing sculpture that is separate from the city gates or walls and consists of two pillars connected by an arch and crowned with an attic where a statue may be mounted or where an inscription may be written. It is essentially a “freestanding gateway pierced by a passageway covered by a barrel vault.” (2) The arch stands 15.4 meters high, with a width of 13.5 meters and a depth of 4.75 meters. The archway height is 8.30 meters with a width of 5.36 meters and the relief panels have a height of 2 meters. (3)It is constructed of concrete and faced with marble. The columns of the Arch of Titus are Corinthian yet their volutes are Ionic. This means that there are spiral designs atop the capital much like those done in the Ionic order. Basically, they are composites of both the Corinthian and Ionic capital decorations if you really look closely. (4) In the center of the attic is an inscription that reads, “The Senate and the People of Rome (dedicate this) to the divine Titus Vespasianus Augustus, son of the divine Vespasian.” (5) Titus’ defeat of Jerusalem ended a fierce batter to “crush a revolt of the Jews in Palestine and this capture destroyed the Second Temple of Jerusalem from which many of its treasures were taken. The relief panel on the walls of the arch depicts this “taking of the spoils”. You can see the men carrying the menorah as well as other goods.(6) It is interesting to note that the closer figures are more detailed and higher in relief than those in the background. Some of the signs carried by the soldiers in this relief supposedly carried names of real people and cities that were conquered. There is a sense of movement in this panel as in the next one. According to the hardcover version of our book on page 274, it is the “play of light and shade across the protruding foreground and receding background figures that quickens this sense of movement.” The site rch_of_Titus.html briefly describes the relief along the north and south sides as well as the inside of the archway which is done in marble. Along the north side of the archway the relief show the emperor in a procession where he is riding a quadriga which is being led by the Goddess Roma. He is also being crowned by Victoria who happens to be flying over his head. The lictors hold ceremonial axes and a young man follows the emperor. This site comments that this young man was meant to “represent the Roman people”, while an older man in a toga represents the Senate. The area between the arches curve and the framing columns is the spandrels. The spandrels show depictions of personified victories (winged women, as in Greek art). (7) Lining the passageway are two panels with reliefs depicting the triumph of both Titus and his father in the year 71 AD. One panel shows spoils being taken from the Temple, while the other shows Titus as a “triumphator attended by various genii and lectors.” (8) Our book on page 109 comments that “these allegorical figures transform the relief from a record of Titus’s battlefield success into a celebration of imperial virtues.” It also comments that this panel is the “first known instance of divine beings interacting with humans on an official Roman historical relief.” I would think this would make Titus seem even more God-like to the people! Reading that under the vault there is a little relief that shows Titus flying up to heaven on the back of an eagle adds to this idea. I was able to find in the hardcover version of our book on page 274 that: “Roman emperors normally were proclaimed gods after they died,” and this

Arch was erected after Titus’ death, so it fits.

Constantine was also Emperor prior to the erection of the next piece: Arch of Constantine. On and off, for hundreds of years, Rome battled civil war until Constantine gained power from Emperor Maxentius by defeating him in the battle of “Milvian Bridge” in 312 CE. Through Constantine, Rome would know a bit of peace. (9) In 315 CE to pay homage to Constantine, the Senate as well as the people of Rome built the Arch of Constantine to memorialize his defeat over Maxentius and their subsequent peace. (10) The Arch itself stands 21 meters high, 25.7 meters wide and 7.4 meters deep and was made of marble blocks (lower part) and brickwork with marble (top called the Attic). (11)

It dwarfs the nearby Arch of Titus and it’s “three barrel-vaulted passageways are flanked by columns on high pedestals and surmounted by a large attic story with elaborate sculptural decoration and and inscription.” (12)It differs from the Arch of Titus as it has 3 archs; one large middle one flanked by two smaller ones. Yet, it has an inscription like that of Titus. Once again this inscription honors the emperor on behalf of the Senate and the Roman people!

Forming a band around the monuments, the relief panels tell of varying episodes in Constantine’s life. What was extremely interesting was learning that most of the relief panels decorating the monument were actually re-used parts from other buildings and monuments! A number of the statues that were re-used were actually chosen because they had similar features to Constantine. (13) One site actually comments that this re-use of pieces conveys a new central meaning: “the praise of the emperor, both in battle and in his civilian duties.”(14) Then too, it remarks that by using statues from the times of Trajan, Hadrian, and Marcus Aurelius in resemblance to Constantine, it puts Constantine in this group of “good emperors” and thus evokes in the people an image of a “virtuous, victorious, and pious ruler.”(15)In a sense, the strength and virtue and courage connected to the older pieces came “with” them to this new memorial!

The relief panels depicted throughout the archway can be broken down into three sections: the attic or top part of the monument, the main section, and the inner sides. Situated in the top central part of the attic is an inscription that reads; “To the Emperor Caesar Flavius Constantinus, the greatest, pious, and blessed Augustus: because he, inspired by the divine, and by the greatness of his mind, has delivered the state from the tyrant and all of his followers at the same time, with his army and just force of arms, the Senate and People of Rome have dedicated this arch, decorated with triumphs.”(16) It’s quite an elaborate visual center piece. One would think that being surrounded by so much decoration, that this inscription would fade into the background. This is not the case however. The words neither dominate nor are dominated by the overall arch. They seem to hold their own as if the sincerity behind the words adds a sort of “weight” which allows them to stand as one with the archway.

Situated alongside the inscription above the two smaller archways are pairs of relief panels that were taken from an unknown monument that had been erected for Marcus Aurelius. The relief on the north side from left to right, shows the return of Constantine after the campaign, his leaving the city while being saluted by “a personification of the Via Flaminia”, the distribution of money to the people, by the emperor, and the interrogation of a German prisoner by the emperor.(17) Once Along the south side, again from left to right are reliefs showing a captured enemy chieftan who is being led by the emperor, a scene reminiscent of the previous one, though this one involves prisoners; troops being spoken to by the emperor, and ending with a scene depicting the emperor sacrificing three animals; a pig, sheep, and bull.(18) On top of each Corinthian column; two on each side, are marble statues of Dacian prisoners, while on the smaller sides of the arch way decorating the attic show the emperor’s Dacian Wars, while on the inside large frieze, “celebrates the Dacian Victory.” The bases of these columns have their own reliefs. The front of the base’s show victory figures while the sides show barbarians and Roman soldiers.

The website,, mentions that above both the left and right arches there are two round medallions each. Upon these medallions are depictions of “hunting/ sacrificing: the hunt of a boar, the sacrifice of Apollo, the hunt of a lion, and the sacrifice of Hercules.” Along the south side the depictions show the “departure from the hunt, sacrifice of Silvanus, hunt of a bear, and the sacrifice of Diana.” Interestingly enough the heads in the medallions were reworked so that it was Constantine’s head that resided within the scenes. Running underneath these medallions is the “historical frieze.” This frieze recounts the “defeat of Maxentius by Constantine, the departure from Milan (which begins on the western side), the siege of the city as well as the Battle of Milvian Bridge (southside), the emperor and his army entering Rome (eastern side); while on the northern side, there are two strips depicting Constantine speaking to the people and distributing money, both of which were done after he had taken possession of Rome”. These two strips face towards the city. This same site mentions very little about the relief panels on the inner sides of the archways other than in the central archway there is a relief of the Dacian War, while inside the smaller two archways are 8 unidentifiable portrait busts. Yet, although each relief still reflected Roman’s love of depicting important events with “realistic detail, I read that they are a “significant change in style, approach and subject matter that distinguished them from the re-cycled pieces” that became a part of this piece. (19) The figures are “stocky, mostly frontal and look-alike, which is said to be reminiscent of plebeian style and are compressed by the miniature buildings of the forum into the foreground plane.” (20) Unlike the figures in the Arch of Titus, these figures do not move in a natural way, but according to our book on page 120: “move with the mechanical and repeated stances and gestures of puppets. The relief is very shallow, the forms not fully modeled.” It continues that the sculptor depicted a crowd instead of groups of individuals.” In a sense, it respected the past, but also changed so that it reflected a different style as well, even if it seemed a decline from the former Classical design. What also fascinated me was that this arch was built not only for symbolic reason, i.e. to make the people remember a significant historical event, but also as a political one! It was meant to “show the power and success of the Roman Empire and its new emperor, Constantine.” (21)

The final monument to be discussed is the Parthenon. It is the earliest, but most elaborate piece! This structure was built between 447 and 438 BC using a Doric style. Architects Ictinos and Callicrates are responsible for building this piece out of marble from Mount Pendeli. (22) The exterior of this building “is that of a typical Doric order peripteral temple on a three-step platform. The peristyle consists of forty-six columns, eight as viewed from each end and seventeen as viewed from the sides. The columns have a subtle swelling and tilt inward slightly from bottom to top and the space between columns is less at the corners than elsewhere”. (23) The book section continues that: “these gentle curves and shifts in the arrangement of elements give the Parthenon a buoyant, organic appearance and prevent it from looking like a heavy, lifeless stone box.” In a way, this is what the curves and inscription seem to do for the other two monuments! Yet, this piece lacks a curved arch completely! I am sure that the columns constructed during this time were the predecessors to those used in the Arch of Constantine and those in the Arch of Titus, but in a simpler fashion and freestanding, unlike the built-in columns of the later pieces. The purpose for this piece was to give thanks to the Goddess Athena for the survival of Athens and Greece in the Persian Wars. Like the Arch of Titus, this piece honors a “God”, and like both the Arch of Titus and the Arch of Constantine celebrates a triumph in a time of war. The site, remarks that the columns of the Parthenon supported a marble beam which to which were attached the “metopes”. These were various high relief sculptures. It comments that: “on the eastern side, there is a relief showing the battle between Olympian Gods and giants, while on the western side the Greeks are battling Amazons. The north shows scenes from the fall of Troy and the south shows battles between men and centaurs. On the eastern pediment is the birth of Athena, while the west shows a competition between Athena and Poseidon regarding who will rule Athens and Attika. Surrounding the entire structure is a frieze by Phideas which shows the “sacrifice of the daughters of Erechtheus, one of the founding myths of Athens.”(24) It was interesting to read this and then realize that sacrifices were still being depicted in the Arch of Constantine! According to one book, this monument has “sculptures in the round” set on the deep shelves of the cornice and attached by metal pins. This means that there were three-dimensional sculptures that were carved free of any attaching background or block. (25) These sculptures, though largely damaged, showed Athena’s triumph of Poseidon for rule over the Athenians, Athena’s birth, and other gods and goddesses in various reclining or standing positions. Like the re-cycled relief panels of the Arch of Constantine, it is as if these other “gods” are supporting/adding to the significance of this monument to Athena! I was a little confused by what was considered a frieze or a relief though! What I would consider a relief, since it is like the panels in the other two arches, is instead called a frieze. An example of this might be that of the “Marshals and Young Women” Ionic frieze of the east side of the Parthenon. (26) What is considered a relief is more like an attached piece of sculpture instead. An example of this might be “Lapith Fighting a Centaur: metope relief. Actually, it is interesting to note that the Ionic frieze is very similar in appearance to the relief panels in the other two arches, but the figures in the Doric frieze are more detailed and more like attached sculptures instead! Like the figures in the other two arches, these friezes recount various battles and also appear to show movement. A good example of this might be the “Horsemen” from the Ionic frieze on the north wall. (27) Once again, from what I’ve read, this piece was to show others that “Athenians were healthy, vigorous people enjoying individual rights but united in a democratic civic body looked upon with favor by the gods.” (28) Yet, I also read that instead of the people appreciating this scenic display of triumph over battle, it was more than likely the crowd felt that the use of “contemporary human activity was disrespectful to the gods and inappropriate as a decoration of a religious building”. (29) So, unlike the political/public honor of the emperors of the other two arches, this piece had a more religious tone and there was a distinction between humans and the gods.

In closing, there are just a few final points of interest to share.

As I was writing this paper, I realized how like the three periods in Greek art these monuments were. The relief panels from the Arch of Constantine seemed reminiscent of the Archaic Period sculptures. There seemed to be no real sense of natural “movement” to the figures. Like the Kouros, the figures have a sort of stiff almost puppet like appearance. The site,, remarks that the relief found around the Arch of Constantine “can be easily differentiated from the earlier sculptures by their lack of realism.” Interestingly enough, it seems that this style went into decline with the onslaught of civil wars of the previous century! The relief panels themselves, are very shallow and there is a lack of detail. During the Archaic time, artists were greatly influenced Egyptian art. The Arch of Constantine also “borrows” from other time periods/monuments. However, this re-use of pieces “while rejecting the norms of classical design in its frieze,” would eventually pave the way for the iconic art of the middle ages. (30) The Arch of Titus on the other hand reminds me of the pieces seen in the Hellenistic period. There is a natural sense of movement to the relief panels that is convincing to the eye. One panel in particular would be where the soldiers are carrying spoils from the Temple in Jerusalem. The use of high and low relief creates places of light and shadows as well as a “staggered” appearance to the soldiers creating a sense of depth to the panel which only strengthens this sense of movement. (31)

Lastly the Parthenon seemed reminiscent of the Classical period and perhaps a touch of the Hellenistic as its figures are also done in high relief, so much so that some have been broken off. In our text on pages 71 and 72, it comments that Phidias and his master sculptors had mastered “the rendition of clothed forms” revealing and concealing the bodies at the same time. It also remarks that the figures of both animals and humans are “brilliantly characterized: the horses of the sun at the beginning of the day are energetic and those of the moon or night, having labored until dawn, are weary.” In this instance, the panels of the Parthenon are very similar to the Hellinistic sculptures with their expressive facial and body expressions. Another bit of information that I found fascinating was found also in our text on pages 70-71. Our text actually remarks that the architects of the Parthenon believed “that perfect beauty could be achieved.” This perfection sounds so much like what Polykleitos was trying to convey with his Doryphorus. In fact, to go a step further, these architects, like Polykleitos, used mathmatics to create this perfect beauty. The plan for an 8×17 column was x=2y+1. I found that to be really interesting.

There are connections everywhere and art certainly seems to contain a lot of them! It seems that no matter what, each period of art is influenced by another. These three monuments are dissimilar in their appearance, but each share elements found in the others.


1. Stockstad, Marilyn. Art History: 254

2. Ibid.

3. Arch of Titus: 1

4. Stockstad, Marilyn. Art History: 227

5. Arch of Titus ? Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: 1

6. Stockstad, Marilyn. Art History: 254

7. Kleiner, Fred S., Mamiya, Christin J.,Tansey, Richard G. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages Eleventh Edition. 2001: 273

8. Arch of Titus ? Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: 1

9. Roma: the Arch of Constantine: 1

10. Ibid.

11. Arch of Constantine ? Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: 1

12. Stockstad, Marilyn. Art History: 283

13. Kleiner, Fred S., Mamiya, Christin J.,Tansey, Richard G. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages Eleventh Edition. 2001: 297

14. Arch of Constantine ? Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: 2

15. Ibid.

16. Arch of Constantine ? Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: 3

17. Arch of Constantine ? Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: 2

18. Ibid.

19. Stockstad, Marilyn. Art History: 283

20. Ibid.

21. The Arch of Constantine: 1

22. The Parthenon: 1

23. Stockstad, Marilyn. Art History: 188

24. The Parthenon: 1

25. Stockstad, Marilyn. Art History: 188

26. Stockstad, Marilyn. Art History: 191

27. Stockstad, Marilyn. Art History: 190

28. Ibid.

29. Ibid.

30. Kleiner, Fred S., Mamiya, Christin J.,Tansey, Richard G. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages Eleventh Edition. 2001: 297

31. Kleiner, Fred S., Mamiya, Christin J. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages a Concise History.2006:108-109



Kleiner, Fred S., Mamiya, Christin J. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages a Concise History. Thomas Wadsworth USA.2006:

Kleiner, Fred S., Mamiya, Christin J.,Tansey, Richard G. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages Eleventh Edition. Harcourt College Inc. Fl. 2001:

Stockstad, Marilyn. Art History. Harry N. Abrams Inc. New York. 1999.


Art History at Loggia exploring the Parthenon.

Arch of Constantine.

Arch of Constantine ? Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Arch of Titus.

Arch of Titus, Forum Romanum (Photo Archive).

Arch of Titus ? Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


Parthenon ? Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Roma: the Arch of Constantine.

The Arch of Constantine.


The Parthenon.

Triumphal Arch ? Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


Part 1 – Discuss the evolution of church architecture from Early Gothic to Late Gothic.

In the middle of the 12th century, Gothic Architecture began to develop out of the Romanesque style that came before it. This form of architecture was given the name Gothic because the “Italian writers of the Renaissance attributed the invention (and what to them was the nonclassical ugliness) of medieval architecture to the barbarian Gothic tribes that had destroyed the Roman Empire and its classical culture in the 5th century AD. ( The main reason these changes in architecture came about was that the builders were trying to find different ways to support the heavy ceilings of the cathedrals over the wide spaces necessary. The only method available had been to build increasingly thick and heavy stone walls to support the building.

The masons at this time came up with several new ways of building that allowed them to build larger and taller buildings with thinner walls. One method they used was to create a ribbed vault where they would make the ceiling panels out of thin stone slabs and the weight was supported by the “ribs”. Round arches were replaced with pointed arches which also helped to support the weight of the ceiling. The invention of the flying buttress, a support system, also helped to take the pressure off of the walls so they could be built thinner. “A buttress is a support — usually brick or stone — built against a wall to support or reinforce it. A flying buttress is a free-standing buttress attached to the main structure by an arch or a half-arch.” Since the wall had to hold less of the ceiling’s weight with the new designs, it could now be opened up for windows. The Gothic builders were now able to add larger amounts of stained glass into the walls of the stone structures.

In early Gothic architecture, you could see many columns and arches being used to support the ceilings. Window tracery (decorative ribwork subdividing a window opening) started being used. There was also some use of stained glass windows. French early Gothic Cathedrals closed on their eastern end in a semicircle called an apse. ( The western end of the cathedral had more arches, windows and towers. The outside of the cathedral had many flying buttresses. The Abbey Church of St. Denis in Paris is an example of early Gothic style.

The second phase of Gothic architecture is called High Gothic. In these buildings you can see that the architects tried to use more geometrical decoration with the structural forms that had been developed. This was sometimes called the Rayonnant style. Not only did the architects want to achieve great heights in their cathedrals, they now wanted to add more decoration to their work. More patterns were used and windows were enlarged even further. The stained glass windows started being stained more lightly so more light could get into the cathedral. Chartres cathedral is an example of this phase of Gothic Architecture. (

Finally, around 1280, the Rayonnant style developed into the Late Gothic phase also called the Flamboyant style due to its heavy focus on decoration. In flamboyant style buildings, walls were thinned down as much as possible and left with only support beams instead of stone panels so that the entire open space could be used for decoration and many stained glass windows. Notre Dame of Paris is an example of the Late Gothic phase. You can see by its many stained glass windows, and designs, and flying buttresses that the architects were mostly trying to make this a visually pleasing and highly decorated cathedral. They used all of the architectural advances of the Gothic time to create this cathedral. (

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Part 2 – Briefly , what contribution might the writings of the philosopher Pseudo-Dionysius have on the development of Gothic architecture, specifically stained glass filled walls.

How did the colored light of these new buildings change the religious experience of the faithful. Good luck!

Pseudo-Dionysius was an anonymous theologian and philosopher of the 5th century, who wrote a collection of books that were thought to be written by Dionysius. One person who read the works of Pseudo-Dionysius was Abbott Suger, who used Dionysius theories to justify his use of stained glass in the Abbey Church of St. Dennis. Pseudo-Dionysius speaks of light being accessible to everyone, he said that “it illuminates what is capable of receiving light and now loses utter fullness of its light.” The light in a cathedral falls on everyone equally without accounting for social status or the state of one’s soul. Furthermore, if a cathedral is a model of the universe then everything in it “seeks to be held together by light.”

Abbott Suger used Dionysius’s writings as an inspiration and as an explanation for the use of stained glass windows in the church. According to Pseudo-Dionysius, we should use symbols and our senses to get closer to God so the use of stained glass would blend beauty of art and the use of light. Also, the stained light coming through the glass would fall on everyone as equals, thereby bringing everyone closer together.

The colored light of these new buildings changed the religious experience of the faithful by making church a place of light and beauty. It was a place that would stimulate your senses and it was hoped that stimulating the patrons’ senses would bring them closer to God and bring the church community closer as they would all be equals (despite economic status) under the light of the stained glass.