Roma: Arch of Titus


Christian Hulsen. The Roman Forum, its history and its monuments, 1906.

XLIII. The Arch of Titus. The arch, which the senate and the people decreed to Titus after the triumphant ending of the war in Judea, was not completed during the emperor’s lifetime. Accordingly the inscription (on the east side) calls him divus, and in the middle of the arch of the doorway the Genius of the emperor is represented being carried to heaven by an eagle. The arch is not mentioned by ancient writers, and is not referred to in the description of the city written in the time of Constantine: however on the curious relief from the grave of the Haterii on the Via Labicana (no\\ in the Lateran), which represents the Sacra Via from the Palatine to the Colosseum, it appear as arcus in sacra via summa. In the middle ages it was enclosed in the fortifications of the Frangipani: at that time the street lay below the ancient level; the blocks of travertine belonging to the foundation, which was laid bare in 1902, show clearly the marks left by passing wagons. Curiously enough the foundation itself rests directly upon the pavement of the older Sacra Via. Accordingly the deduction has been made from this that the arch stood originally nearer the centre of the Velia and was moved after the temple of Hadrian was built. In the upper half of the passage was huilt a chamber, and in constructing the floor the beautiful reliefs of the walls were injured. Sixtus IV (1471-1484) removed most of these constructions, but a part of a mediaeval tower still stood on the attic until the beginning of the xix. century. In 1821, when these structures were finally removed, it was discovered that the piers at the sides were very seriously injured: it was accordingly necessary to renew them in large part, and this was creditably done under the direction of Valadier. The restored parts are of travertine, without the rich ornamentation of the originals, and hence they are easily distinguished. The reliefs on the inside of the passageway show to the left (north) the emperor in a chariot; the emperor himself is being crowned by Victoria; beside the chariot are lictors carrying the bundles of rods without the axes, and behind is an ideal figure having the upper part of his body bare (probably the Genius populi Romani). On the right (south) side a section of the triumphal procession is in the act of passing through an arch (only one half of the arch is represented plastically, perhaps the other half was painted on the stone): the treasures of the temple at Jerusalem are being carried on litters (fercula), on the first the table for the show-bread and the trumpets of the year of jubilee, on the second the seven-branched candlestick. In the background are three soldiers with tablets, on which we must imagine inscriptions explaining the siege and the booty. — – The relief of the frieze on the east side (under the chief inscription) represents another section of the triumph: a sacrificial procession in which are being led steers decorated with garlands, and behind them on a litter a reclining figure, probably the river-god Jordan.

At the top of the Velia, where the Nova Via and the Sacra Via unite (near q pi. II), the excavations of 1905 and 1907 have brought to light many concrete foundations and brick walls of various epochs, crossing and overlapping each other in a very complicated way. One construction of tufa at the west side of the arch, with a few architectural members of travertine of rather archaic appearance, has been called, without sufficient reason, the Templum Larum in summa sacra via. At a considerable depth are to be seen the remains of a street paved with polygonal blocks of lava, which led from the arch of Titus to the chief entrance of the imperial palaces on the Palatine and was also named clivus sacer. At the east side of the Arch, between it and the Temple of Jupiter Stator, foundations of tufa, blocks of travertine travertine and pavements of bricks have been laid bare: they belong more probably to private buildings than to public monuments, for instance the elder Temple of Jupiter Stator, with which they have been thought to be connected.

Hulsen, Christian. The Roman Forum, its history and its monuments. Rome: Loescher; New York, G. E. Stechert, 1906.

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AUTHOR(S) AND LAST UPDATE Stephanie Sepúlveda &John William Bailly  10 April 2018

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