Gert Sperling
Lerchenweg 3
34233 Fuldatal, GERMANY

98-sperlingThe Pantheon complex has been the object of countless interpretations. There is no certainty as to how and why it was created and what it is meant to express, because there are no documents concerning the identity of the architect, the exact dates of conception, its origin or its function. Since ancient times we find vague references to its symbolic function: according to Dio Cassius, it resembles the heavens. But the cosmological interpretations do not take into consideration the real metrical dimensions of the whole complex nor the relation between its numbers, shapes, forms and proportions. Even the modules are identified very differently, so that it is difficult to compare the various analyses.

Some scholars take the Neopythagorean roots of the Pantheon seriously, interpreting the architecture as an integrated visualization of the Greek mathematically-conceptualized theory of the cosmos, which consisted of an amalgamation of cosmological, geodetical and anthropomorphical dimensions. To generate harmony, the laws of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and musical proportions are fused. The pantheon can be considered an architectural image of the Pythagorean cosmos, a "living organism" with a mathematically-proportioning "soul" and unchanging, "eternal" consonant-symphonic ratios. It "resembles the heavens", but is a resemblance based on mathematical knowledge, a summary of the ancient quadrivium.

Presbyterian minister This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. has researched topics concerning the Pantheon for over thirty years. He is well known from his many reports on the subject. His most complete work is his book, Das Pantheon in Rom: Abbild und Mass des Kosmos (Munich/Neuried: ars una Verlag, 1999).

The correct citation for this paper is:
Gert Sperling, "The Quadrivium in the Pantheon of Rome", pp. 127-142 in Nexus II: Architecture and Mathematics, ed. Kim Williams, Fucecchio (Florence): Edizioni dell'Erba, 1998.