Arch of Titus – Ancient Rome

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Arch of Titus, Rome

Arch of Titus, Rome

The Roman emperor Domitian built the Arch of Titus at one end of the Roman Forum in the 80s AD to remind people about his brother, the Emperor Titus‘ victories in the war against the Jews in Israel. The Jews objected to being part of the Roman Empire and wanted to be independent. They were leading the First Jewish Revolt to try to get free. But Titus defeated them.

Titus was actually already dead when the arch was built, but Titus’ younger brother Domitian was emperor, and he wanted people to remember his brother Titus.

Arch of Titus, Rome

Arch of Titus, Rome

So the inscription has Titus’ name on it. (It says, the Senate and the People of Rome, to the Divine Titus, son of the Divine Vespasian, Vespasian Augustus). The letters were originally picked out in shining bronze letters, but the bronze has been stolen away and melted down. The arch is part marble and part travertine.

The inside of the arch has relief (raised) carvings showing the victory parade when Titus got back to Rome.

Roman soldiers carry a large Jewish menorah in a victory parade on the Arch of Titus.

Roman soldiers carry a large Jewish menorah in a victory parade on the Arch of Titus.

You can see the Roman soldiers carrying a huge menorah (candlestick) which they had taken from the Jews. They are about to go under a triumphal arch. The actual Arch of Titus hadn’t been built yet, so the one in the carving is probably a temporary wooden arch that Titus put up just for the victory parade.

On the other side of the Arch of Titus, the Emperor Titus (whose head is missing now) rides in a chariot drawn by four horses.

Arch of Titus: The Roman emperor Titus rides in a chariot drawn by horses.

Arch of Titus: The Roman emperor Titus rides in a chariot drawn by horses.

The holes were made by people in the Middle Ages digging out the lead clamps which once held the travertine blocks together. They wanted to melt down the lead to make new things.

Learn by doing: make an arch
Arch of Septimius Severus
Arch of Constantine

Bibliography and further reading about the Arch of Titus:

The Colosseum & the Roman Forum, by Martyn Whittock (2002). Easy reading.

The Roman Forum, by Michael Grant (1970). Out of date, but Michael Grant is an entertaining writer with a simple style which teenagers may appreciate.

Ancient Roman Art, by Susie Hodge (1998). Easy reading.

Roman Art: Romulus to Constantine, by Nancy and Andrew Ramage (4th Edition 2004). The standard textbook.

More about the Flavian emperors
Ancient Rome
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By | 2017-08-31T10:32:29+00:00 August 31st, 2017|Art, Romans|0 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Arch of Titus – Ancient Rome. Quatr.us Study Guides, August 31, 2017. Web. December 13, 2017.

About the Author:

Karen Carr

Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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