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THE BASILICA AND BASILICAN CHURCHES A great deal of conjecture has been expended on the question as to the genesis of the Roman basilica For present purposes it may be sufficient to observe that the addition of aisles to the nave was so manifest a convenience that it might not improbably have been thought of even had models not been at hand in the civic buildings of the Empire The most suitable example that can be chosen as typical of the Roman basilica of the age of Constantine is the church of S Maria Maggiore And this not merely because in spite of certain modern alterations it has kept in the main its original features but also because it departs to a lesser extent than any other extant example from the classical ideal The lateral colonnade is immediately surmounted by a horizontal entablature with architrave frieze and cornice all complete The monolithic columns with their capitals are moreover homogenous and have been cut for their position instead of being like those of so many early Christian churches the more or less incongruous and heterogeneous spoils of older and non-Christian edifices Of this church in its original form no one however decidedly his tastes may incline to some more highly developed system or style of architecture will call in question the stately and majestic beauty The general effect is that of a vast perspective of lines of noble columns carrying the eye forward to the
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