Following the death of Emperor Titus in AD 81, Domitian raised this arch to honor Titus and Vespasian for their victories in the Judean War, namely the conquest of Jerusalem. Made of pentelic marble, the arch stands 50 feet (15.4 m) high, 43 feet (13.5 m) wide, and 15 feet (4.75 m) deep, and is surrounded by composite columns of the Corinthian order.
Arch of Titus
Occasion of its Construction
The arch was not left untouched through Rome’s later history. The Frangipani family used it as part of their castle in the 12th and 13th centuries. It remained that way until Sixtus IV cleared away the surrounding buildings in the late 15th century AD, the remains of which were obliterated not long afterward.
Early in the 19th century, Stern and Valadier took apart the decrepit arch and reconstructed it with travertine, carefully making the changes obviously different from the original. This makes it easy for modern visitors to distinguish the ancient fragments from the replaced sections.
The inscription reads: “Senatus Populusque Romanus Divo Tito Divi Vespasiani Filio Vespasiano Augusto,” which is translated as “The Roman Senate and People to Deified Titus, Vespasian Augustus, son of Deified Vespasian.” Indeed, there is a panel on the underside of the arch depicting Titus flying on an eagle, meant as a symbol of divinity.
Spoils of Jerusalem
Domitian raised this arch to honor Titus and Vespasian for their conquest of Jerusalem. This relief depicts the subsequent triumphal procession in AD 71. One can see the table of showbread, the menorah, and the silver trumpets being carried in the victory march toward the triumphal gate (depicted on the far right), to be brought to Vespasian’s Temple of Peace.
Here Titus himself can be seen in a quadigra (chariot) with the goddess of Rome at his side and the goddess of victory crowning him with a wreath. The man standing behind the horse represented the spirit of the Roman people. Behind him stood a figure wearing the toga, which depicted the Senate.