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The Arch of Titus
The Arch of Titus is a Pentelicmarker marble triumphal archmarker with a single arched opening, located on the Via Sacra just to the south-east of the Forummarker in Romemarker. It was constructed by the emperor Domitian shortly after the death of his older brother Titus (born AD 41, emperor 79-81), commemorating the capture and sack of Jerusalem in 70, which effectively terminated the Jewish War begun in 66 (although the Romans did not achieve complete victory until the fall of Masadamarker in 73).

The Arch of Titus has provided the general model for many of the triumphal archesmarker erected since the 16th century-- perhaps most famously it is the inspiration for the 1806 Arc de Triomphemarker in Parismarker, Francemarker.

Description

The Arch of Titus
The Arch of Titus is arranged in five bays with an ABA rhythm, the side bays perpendicular to the central axial arch. The corners are articulated with a massive order of engaged columns that stand on a high ashlar basement. The capitals are Corinthian, but with prominent volutes of the Ionic order projecting laterally above the acanthus foliage—the earliest example of the composite order. Above the main cornice rises a high weighty attic on which is a central tablet bearing the dedicatory inscription. The entablatures break forward over the columns and the wide central arch, and the profile of the column shafts transforms to square. Flanking the central arch, the side bays now each contain a shallow niche-like blind aedicular window, a discreet early 19th century restoration.


The soffit of the axial archway is deeply coffered with a relief of the apotheosis of Titus at the center. The sculptural program also includes two panel reliefs lining the passageway. Both commemorate the joint triumph celebrated by Titus and his father Vespasian in the summer of 71. One of the panels depicts the spoils taken from the Templemarker, while the other depicts Titus as triumphator attended by various genii and lictors. The sculpture of the outer faces of the two great piers was lost when the Arch of Titus was incorporated in medieval defensive walls. The attic of the arch was originally crowned by more statuary, perhaps of a quadriga pulled by elephants.

Based on the style of sculptural details, Domitian's favored architect Rabirius, sometimes credited with the Colosseummarker, may have executed the arch. Without contemporary documentation, however, attributions of Roman buildings on basis of style are considered shaky.

"The arch was constructed of Pentelic marble, and is 13.50 metres wide, 15.40 high, and 4.75 deep. The archway is 8.30 metres high and 5.36 wide. Above it is a simple entablature, and an attic 4.40 metres in height, on which is the inscription, which is preserved only on the east side. On each side is an engaged and fluted Corinthian column, standing on a square pedestal. The capitals of these columns are the earliest examples of the Composite style. On the inner jambs of the arch are the two famous reliefs (PBS III.276‑279; V.178; Strong, cit.), that on the south..."

The main inscription used to be ornamented by letters made of silver or pehaps gold or some other metal.

Inscription

The inscription
The inscription in Roman square capitals reads:

SENATVS

POPVLVSQVE·ROMANVS

DIVO·TITO·DIVI·VESPASIANI·F(ILIO)

VESPASIANO·AVGVSTO

Which means "The Senate and People of Rome (dedicate this) to the divine Titus Vespasianus Augustus, son of the divine Vespasian."

The opposite side of the Arch of Titus received new inscriptions after it was restored during the pontificate of Pope Pius VII by Giuseppe Valadier in 1821. The restoration was intentionally made in travertine to differentiate between the original and the restored portions.

The inscription reads:
Detail from the Arch of Titus showing spoils from the Sack of Jerusalem
INSIGNE · RELIGIONIS · ATQVE · ARTIS · MONVMENTVM

VETVSTATE · FATISCENS

PIVS · SEPTIMVS · PONTIFEX · MAX(IMVS)

NOVIS · OPERIBVS · PRISCVM · EXEMPLAR · IMITANTIBVS

FVLCIRI · SERVARIQVE · IVSSIT

ANNO · SACRI · PRINCIPATVS · EIVS · XXIIII

(This) monument, remarkable in terms of both religion and art,

had weakened from age:

Pius the Seventh, Supreme Pontiff,

by new works on the model of the ancient exemplar

ordered it reinforced and preserved.

• In the year of his sacred rulership the 24th •

History

Country side of Porta Pia.
The Frangipani family turned it into a fortified tower in the Middle Ages

In a later era, Pope Paul IV made it the place of a yearly oath of submission, forced by the Pope on the Jews of the new Roman Ghetto.

It was one of the first buildings sustaining a modern restoration, starting with Raffaele Stern in 1817 and continued by Valadier under Pius VII in 1821, with new capitals and with travertine masonry, distinguishable from the original. The restoration was a model for the country side of Porta Piamarker.

Historical significance

The Arch of Titus provides the only contemporary depiction of sacred articles from the Temple in Jerusalemmarker. The menorah and trumpets are clearly depicted, as well as what might be the Table of Showbread.

Due to the depiction of the destruction of Jerusalem and the desecration of the Temple, Jews refuse to walk underneath the arch to this very day. A notable exception occurred in 1948 at the founding of Israelmarker, when a large contingent from the Roman Jewish community walked through the arch in the opposite direction from the original Ancient Roman triumphal march.


The depiction of the menorah (seven-branched lampstand) from the Temple in Jerusalemmarker on the arch, was used for the coat of arms of Israel.

Works modeled on, or inspired by, the Arch of Titus



  • The India gate, New Delhi, India (1931)


See also



References

  1. Technically it was an honorific arch, as the arch used in Roman triumphs was in the Circus Maximus.
  2. A Let's Go City Guide: Rome, page 76, Vedran Lekić, 2004, ISBN 1-4050-3329-0.
  3. A Let's Go City Guide: Rome, page 104, Vedran Lekić
  4. The Buildings of Europe: Rome, page 33, Christopher Woodward, 1995, ISBN 0-7190-4032-9.
  5. j. - Credit Maccabees for planting Rome's Jewish roots and the Romans for memorializing the menorah


External links




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