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The Arch of Titus

Coordinates: 41°53′27″N 12°29′19″E / 41.890717°N 12.488585°E / 41.890717; 12.488585 The Arch of Titus is a 1st-century honorific arch[1] located on the Via Sacra, Rome, just to the south-east of the Roman Forum. It was constructed in c.82 AD by the Roman Emperor Domitian shortly after the death of his older brother Titus to commemorate Titus' victory in the Sack of Jerusalem in 70 A.D..

The Arch of Titus has provided the general model for many of the triumphal arches erected since the 16th century—perhaps most famously it is the inspiration for the 1806 Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France.

Contents

Description

The Arch of Titus

The Arch of Titus, constructed using pentelic marble, 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.

Detail of the central soffit coffers

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.

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 Arch in 1744, before restoration. Painting by Canaletto.

The inscription reads:

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

The Frangipani family turned it into a fortified tower in the Middle Ages[2]

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 Pia[2][3].

Significance in Jewish history

Detail from the Arch of Titus showing spoils from the Sack of Jerusalem

The Arch provides the only contemporary depiction of sacred articles taken from the Temple in Jerusalem. The seven-branched menorah and trumpets are clearly depicted. It became one of the most poignant symbols of the diaspora. 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.[4] The arch bore such significance for Roman Jews, that they refused to walk under it. An exception occurred in 1948 with the founding of the State of Israel, when members of the local Jewish community passed through it in a solemn procession, in the opposite direction to that taken by the triumphant ancient Roman processions.[5]

The menorah depicted on the Arch served as the model for the menorah used on the emblem of the State of Israel.

Architectural influence

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

See also

References

  1. ^ It was not a triumphal arch; Titus' triumphal arch was in the Circus Maximus.
  2. ^ a b A Let's Go City Guide: Rome, page 76, Vedran Lekić, 2004, ISBN 1-4050-3329-0.
  3. ^ The Buildings of Europe: Rome, page 33, Christopher Woodward, 1995, ISBN 0-7190-4032-9.
  4. ^ A Let's Go City Guide: Rome, page 104, Vedran Lekić
  5. ^ Credit Maccabees for planting Rome’s Jewish roots and the Romans for memorializing the menorah, Jweekly.com, (December 7, 2001)

External links

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File:Titus
The Arch of Titus

Coordinates: 41°53′27″N 12°29′19″E / 41.890717°N 12.488585°E / 41.890717; 12.488585 The Arch of Titus is a 1st-century honorific arch[1] located on the Via Sacra, Rome, just to the south-east of the Roman Forum. It was constructed in c.82 AD by the Roman Emperor Domitian shortly after the death of his older brother Titus to commemorate Titus' victories, including in the Sack of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

The Arch of Titus has provided the general model for many of the triumphal arches erected since the 16th century—perhaps most famously it is the inspiration for the 1806 Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France.

Contents

Description

File:Arc de titus
The Arch of Titus

The Arch of Titus, constructed using pentelic marble, 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.

File:Arch of Titus
Detail of the central soffit coffers

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.

Inscription

File:Arch.of.
The inscription

The inscription in Roman square capitals reads:

SENATVS
POPVLVSQVE·ROMANVS
DIVO·TITO·DIVI·VESPASIANI·F(ILIO)
VESPASIANO·AVGVSTO

(Senatus Populusque Romanus divo Tito divi Vespasiani filio Vespasiano Augusto)

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.

File:Canaletto (I)
The Arch in 1744, before restoration. Painting by Canaletto.

The inscription reads:

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

(Insigne religionis atque artis, monumentum, vetustate fatiscens: Pius Septimus, Pontifex Maximus, novis operibus priscum exemplar imitantibus fulciri servarique. Jussit anno sacri principatus ejus XXIV)

(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

The Frangipani family turned it into a fortified tower in the Middle Ages[2]

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 Pia[2][3].

Significance in Jewish history

File:Sack of
Detail from the Arch of Titus showing spoils from the Sack of Jerusalem

The Arch provides the only contemporary depiction of sacred articles taken from the Temple in Jerusalem. The seven-branched menorah and trumpets are clearly depicted. It became one of the most poignant symbols of the diaspora. 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.[4] The arch bore such significance for Roman Jews, that they refused to walk under it. An exception occurred in 1948 with the founding of the State of Israel, when members of the local Jewish community passed through it in a solemn procession, in the opposite direction to that taken by the triumphant ancient Roman processions.[5] The menorah depicted on the Arch served as the model for the menorah used on the emblem of the State of Israel.

Architectural influence

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

See also

References

  1. ^ It was not a triumphal arch; Titus' triumphal arch was in the Circus Maximus.
  2. ^ a b A Let's Go City Guide: Rome, page 76, Vedran Lekić, 2004, ISBN 1-4050-3329-0.
  3. ^ The Buildings of Europe: Rome, page 33, Christopher Woodward, 1995, ISBN 0-7190-4032-9.
  4. ^ A Let's Go City Guide: Rome, page 104, Vedran Lekić
  5. ^ Credit Maccabees for planting Rome’s Jewish roots and the Romans for memorializing the menorah, Jweekly.com, (December 7, 2001)

External links


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