Tarot of Delphi: A Fine Art Tarot Deck & Booklet

Artisan of Wands: Roman Architect

The Roman Architect, date unknown (oil on panel). Alma-Tadema, Sir Lawrence (1836-1912). Private Collection.

The Roman Architect, date unknown (oil on panel). Alma-Tadema, Sir Lawrence (1836-1912). Private Collection.

An architect stands alone, thinking. He sketches in the dirt with a staff. He is trying to solve a problem. Can it really work? Scaffolding materials lie piled behind him. Scratched on the wall are geometric shapes and notes (actually the painter’s signature). This is someone who cannot stop thinking about his work, someone who loves solving problems as if each were the most interesting puzzle of the year.

Embodying Civic Achievement

Architecture in Rome epitomized an accumulation of knowledge and innovation. Learning from Etruscan and Greek architects, many of whom were employed or enslaved by the empire, Romans bent architectural techniques to their own uses. Innovations in materials led to the invention of Roman concrete, which in turn made possible large domed roofs, aqueducts, and buildings with open spaces uninhibited by supporting columns.

And the wealth of the Roman empire rewarded the profession, and architects rewarded the empire. As a result, architecture was a foundation of Roman civil society, and perhaps the empire itself. Public and private buildings reflected the grandeur of the imperium and reinforced cultural ideals. Public spaces were functional as well as grande, impressing the Roman citizen with a sense of entitlement, placing them in the center of the world.

Civic projects bought imperial subjects clean water, public entertainment, and hygiene (freedom from epidemics and disease). Rome even built public works and shared technologies in conquered lands, improving living standards for some, making sure the elite benefited and welcomed Rome.

Masters of All Things

Here, an architect stands alone, a hub of creative energy. Architects were – and are – masters of materials, mathematics, organization, building, problem solving, and design. The idea must be functional and yet artistically inspired. The plans must be mathematically precise and the materials carefully chosen. The creative spark must be chaperoned from beginning to end.

At the same time the architect relies on a vast skill set of his own, he also relies on an immense and complex team of colleagues, patrons, and employees. On top of everything else he must do, his vision and interpersonal skills must be strong enough to galvanize builders, workers, other specialists, benefactors, and even the public. How’s that for pressure?

Keywords for Tarot

Form and function. Idea and execution. Inspiration and realization. Thought and implementation.