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On the Appearance of the Baths of Caracalla
Kiel Moe
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Late in his career, architectural historian James Ackerman shifted his attention to the role of magnificence in the work of Michelangelo and Palladio.Footnote1 Ackerman reflected on magnificence in terms of Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, as speculation on how people might best live, and thus design. This concern for magnificence—the state of splendid appearance—merges aesthetic and ethical concerns. In Aristotle, magnificence was a discourse on the virtue, or possible vulgarity, of resource expenditure and its situational fitness. In his words, magnificence was “a fitting expenditure involving largeness of scale.”Footnote2

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