basilica


basilica
/beuh sil"i keuh, -zil"-/, n.
1. an early Christian or medieval church of the type built esp. in Italy, characterized by a plan including a nave, two or four side aisles, a semicircular apse, a narthex, and often other features, as a short transept, a number of small semicircular apses terminating the aisles, or an atrium. The interior is characterized by strong horizontality, with little or no attempt at rhythmic accents. All spaces are usually covered with timber roofs or ceilings except for the apse or apses, which are vaulted.
2. one of the seven main churches of Rome or another Roman Catholic church accorded the same religious privileges.
3. (in ancient Rome) a large oblong building used as a hall of justice and public meeting place.
[1535-45; < L < Gk basiliké hall, short for basiliké oikía royal house. See BASILIC]

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I
Originally a secular public building in ancient Rome, typically a large rectangular structure with an open hall and a raised platform at one or both ends.

In one type, the central hall was flanked by side aisles set off by colonnades, and the raised platform was enclosed by an apse. The early Christians adopted this type for their churches. In the typical early Christian basilica, the columns separating the nave from the lower side aisles carried either arches or entablatures, above which rose clerestory walls that supported the roof. The long nave came to be crossed just before the apse by a shorter transept, creating the cross-shaped plan that remains a standard church form to the present. "Basilica" is also a title of honor given to a Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox church distinguished by its antiquity or its role as an international center of worship. See also cathedral.
II
(as used in expressions)
Saint Mark's Basilica
Saint Peter's Basilica

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▪ Byzantine law
      (from Greek basilikos, “imperial”), 9th-century Byzantine (Byzantine Empire) code of law initiated by the emperor Basil I and completed after the accession of his son Leo VI the Wise.

      The Justinian code of (Justinian, Code of) the 6th century, augmented by later imperial ordinances, had been the chief law source for the Roman world but was marred by much internal repetitiveness and inconsistency. Conflicting interpretations on how to select and apply elements of Justinian's works had contributed to uncertainty among imperial judges. Emperors Basil and Leo therefore had a commission of lawyers reexamine the code in order to abridge it, to cast out obsolescent, conflicting, and superfluous items, and to arrange the resultant provisions into orderly single titles. Basil's jurists apparently produced 40 books, which were enlarged to 60 under Leo.

      The Basilica was written in Greek and was as much a collection of canon law as of civil and public law. It was far more systematically arranged than Justinian's code and comprised a single integrated work, unlike Justinian's four works, in which one subject might be treated in various places. The Basilica became the foundation of Byzantine jurisprudence.

      In the 12th century an index for the Basilica was compiled. Because only about two-thirds of the Basilica survives, the index aids in rounding out knowledge of the contents. See also Justinian, Code of.

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Universalium. 2010.