Arch of Titus

Arch of Titus

The Arch of Titus is a Pentelic marble triumphal arch with a single arched opening, located on the Via Sacra just to the south-east of the Forum in Rome. 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 Masada in 73).

The Arch of Titus has provided the general model for many of the triumphal arches erected since the 16th century.


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 a 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 Temple, 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 Colosseum, 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.


The inscription in Roman square capitals reads:


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:


(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 •


The Frangipani family turned it into a fortified tower in the Middle Ages"A Let's Go City Guide: Rome", page 76, Vedran Lekić, 2004, ISBN 1-4050-3329-0.]

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"A Let's Go City Guide: Rome", page 104, Vedran Lekić] .

It was one of the first buildings sustaining a modern restoration, starting with Raffaello 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 Pia"The Buildings of Europe: Rome", page 33, Christopher Woodward, 1995, ISBN 0-7190-4032-9.] .

Historical significance

The Arch of Titus provides the only contemporary depiction of sacred articles from the Temple in Jerusalem. 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, many Jews refuse to walk underneath the arch to this very day. A notable exception occurred in 1948 at the founding of Israel, when a large contingent from the Roman Jewish community walked through the arch in the opposite direction from the original Ancient Roman triumphal march. [ [ j. - Credit Maccabees for planting Rome's Jewish roots and the Romans for memorializing the menorah ] ]

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

A Copy of the Arch of Titus was built to memorialize the Continental Army of the United States of America in the early 20th Century. It is located at Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania.

ee also

*Great Jewish Revolt
*Judaea Capta coinage
*Siege of Jerusalem
*Temple in Jerusalem


External links

* [ Roman Bookshelf - View of the Arch of Titus from the XIX Century]
* [*/Arcus_Titi.html Samuel Ball Platner, "A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome":] Arch of Titus
* [ Arch of Titus] History and photos

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