Arch of Titus

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Roman Daily Life video

When Roman emperors returned home after a victory in battle, their accomplishments were celebrated by all in ancient Rome.

To help remember the victories in battle, the ancient Romans built structures or monuments to commemorate the events of war. The oldest and smallest of these monuments still standing is the Arch of Titus.

This monument was built to celebrate the achievements of Roman Emperor Titus, who was victorious over Judea in 71 C.E.

Victory over Judea

In 69 C.E., also known as the Year of the Four Emperors, there was a horrible civil war in ancient Rome.

The Flavian dynasty consisting of Vespasian and his two sons Titus and Domitian, had secured the throne of ancient Rome. Two years later, Vespasian and Titus were instrumental in stopping a revolt in the Roman province of Judea.

During the war with Judea, the Roman army plundered the city of Jerusalem of all its wealth.

The Arch of Titus

The Arch of Titus was commissioned by Emperor Domitian, the brother of Titus and son of Vespasian in 81 C.E. Construction on the arch was completed in 85 C.E. The Arch of Titus was built on the Via Sacra near the base of the Palatine Hill in the Roman Forum.

Some historians believe the arch was the product of the famous architect Rabirius.

The Arch of Titus is 50 feet (16 meters) in height with a width of 14 feet (5.5 meters) and has a depth of 15 feet (4.5 meters).

Unlike other Triumphal arches like that of Constantine and Septimius Severus, which have three archways, the Arch of Titus has one archway.

The arch is very decorative with Ionic columns and Corinthian style details carved into the marble. There are detailed carvings all throughout the arch that include the procession of Titus into ancient Rome after his victory.

Other carved scenes include the riches that were plundered from Jerusalem like a menorah, numerous silver trumpets, and some believe even the Ark of the Covenant.

One panel of the arch features Emperor Titus riding a four-horse chariot with the goddess Roma standing in front, holding the bridles of the four horses.

The inscription on the arch, which would have been inscribing in gilded bronze, pays homage to Emperor Titus from the Senate and people of ancient Rome.

One of the important aspects of the Arch of Titus is Roman art. The arch was an attempt by artists to create the illusion of space with the carvings.

The panels were carved in a three-quarter view, which allows the back figures to fade away steadily into the distance.

Restoration of the Arch of Titus

The Arch of Titus was damaged during medieval times when the Frangipani family incorporated the arch into fortifications.

The Arch of Titus was restored with travertine stone in the early 19th century by architect Giuseppe Valadier.

Facts about Arch of Titus

  • Titus was the Roman emperor from 79 C.E. to 81 C.E. when he died. He was a member of Flavian family.
  • The Flavian family came to power in ancient Rome in 69 C.E. during the Year of the Four Emperors.
  • The Arch of Titus commemorates the defeat of a revolt in the Roman province of Judea in 71 C.E. The Roman army was led by Titus after his father Emperor Vespasian returned to ancient Rome in 69 C.E.
  • The Arch of Titus was commissioned by Emperor Domitian in 81 C.E. and was completed in 85 C.E.
  • The Arch of Titus is the oldest and smallest Triumphal arch in Rome still standing today.
  • Unlike the Arch of Constantine and Septimius Severus, the Arch of Titus has only one archway.
  • The Arch of Titus exhibits illusion of space where the figures appear to fade away in the background.
  • Emperor Titus is credited with completing the construction on the Colosseum. The Arch of Titus was created by famed architect Rabirius who also worked on the Colosseum.

What did you learn?

  1. What was the family associated with Emperor Titus?

Flavian family

  1. How many archways does the Arch of Titus have?

One

  1. The Arch of Titus commemorates the defeat of rebels in which Roman province?

Judea

  1. Which Roman emperor commissioned the Arch of Titus to be constructed?

Domitian

  1. What was the name of the famous architect that designed the Arch of Titus?

Rabirius