Arch Of Titus Essay, Research Paper
Titus Flavius Sabinus Vespasianus was a deified Roman emperor who ruled from 79-81 A.D. On the Sacra Via, which runs from the Flavian Amphitheater to the Roman Forum, sits the Arch of Titus. It is situated on the summit of the Velia, which is the highest point on the Sacra Via, that provides a grand view of the Roman Forum below it. The arch was commemorated by the Senate and people of Rome and dedicated by Titus brother, Domitian, in 85 A.D. The triumphal arch was built to commemorate Titus victory over Judaea in 70 A.D, which the Romans were extremely proud of. The arch was also used as propaganda to further suppress Jews and influence people against them. The arch is very important because of its subject matter and the fact that it is one of the few triumphal arches remaining from the first century A.D. A first arch was placed at the entrance of the Circus Maximus and it commemorated Titus and his father Vespian, for their victory over the rebellious Jews. The arch was soon destroyed and replaced by the one that Domitian commemorated on the Sacra Via, but this time only to Titus and not his father. This arch lasted for 150 years till it was destroyed in a war. It was soon rebuilt and the reliefs on the second arch are supposed to have been recreated from oral traditions (The Alexandrinian Heresy). For generations, historians have unknowingly based their research on second-hand research. A bronze statue of the emperor being pulled in a chariot by a quadriga once topped this triumphal arch. It was more than likely lost to barbarian pillaging In the Middle Ages, the arch was known as the Arch of the Seven Branched Candlestick, and was built into the fortifications of the Frangipani. During the time it was encumbered by the fortifications, the lower half of the relief depicting the triumph was severely damaged . The arch was partly freed from the wall in the 15th century and completely in 1822 by Giuseppe Valdier, a classicizing architect. The pillars of the arch were so damaged that Valdier had to reconstruct them entirely. Only the central marble portionof the arch is original and can be easily distinguished from repairs and reconstruction . The Arch of Titus is a small but very tall monument situated on top of a podium. It was designed to be approached as you went from the Flavian Amphitheater to the Roman Forum. The Arch of Titus has only one central archway that is flanked by columns of the Composite order. The Romans knew the weaknesses of the volutes of the Corinthian order, so they preferred to replace them with columns of the Composite order, which is stronger.The use of the Composite order columns in the Arch of Titus is the earliest known use in Rome. The columns are not only used for decorative purposes but also as support. This is indicated by the fact that they are not fully detached from the structure. The Roman Arch order is used in the arch to span the entablature across the distance of the arch. At the top of the elevation is the attic, where an inscription indicates that the Senate and people of Rome dedicated the triumphal arch for the deified Titus . An ornate cornice separates the attic and lower part of the arch and it follows the shape of the monument. The overall articulation of the Arch of Titus is simplicity. Little has been added to the walls of the triumphal arch. The attic space would have been barren if they had not have put the inscriptions on it . The areas between the columns on the lower elevation of the arch were left empty. It is an interesting monument to look at because the columns cause your eyes to look up, while the cornice pulls your eyes to the sides. When you look at the monument it appears heavy, yet the arched opening creates a sense of space. The interior of the arch has a deep coffered ceiling.
Located on the monument are several figurative reliefs. Carved on the keystones on the front of the monument are Roma on one side of the arch and Fortuna on the other. They indicate in visual images that the monument is about victory. It feels like they were also there to give their blessings to the victorious soldiers as they passed under the arch. On the coffered ceiling of the arch is the apotheosis of Divus Titus. You see the Emperor being taken to heaven by an eagle, a situation on fit for a god. The two most important reliefs are located inside the arch passageway. As you pass through the arch, you have the Triumph of the Emperor Titus on one side, and The Spoils from Jerusalem on the other. They are both very large reliefs, measuring almost eight feet in height. They are both triumphal processions, with the direction of the procession heading towards the Roman Forum. The Triumph of Emperor Titus relief shows Titus on a chariot being led by a quadriga . Roma is leading the Emperors Triumphal chariot, and Victoria is crowning him. Normally in a triumphal procession, a slave is behind the Emperor to remind him that he is no more than human, but in this case, a personification of Victoria is used. In front of the chariot are soldiers who are controlling the Jews that they brought back as slaves. The relief varies from high to low. The horses are in the highest relief, along with the emperor because they are the most important part of the procession. The soldiers and captive Jews are in medium relief and the floating heads and staffs of the soldiers are in low reliefs. The four horses, shown in profile move parallel to the bottom edge of the relief but the chariot is not where it should be if they were pulling it. In order to give the Emperor a frontal pose and place all importance on him, they had to do this. While the Emperor, Roma, and Victoria are identifiable, the rest are idealized. As usual, the Romans felt a need to fill the background space. In this case, they used soldiers staffs, Victoria s wings, and floating heads.The Spoils From Jerusalem relief shows the Roman soldiers entering the Porta Triumphalis with the spoils from the Temple in Jerusalem. The spoils include the menorah, silver trumpets, and the Shrewbread table. The soldiers are also carrying plaques which would have had the names of the conquered Judean cities on them. On the left the figures are in low relief and seem to emerge from the background, the ones in the middle seem to stick out in a higher relief, while the ones on the right seem to go back into the background. Only half of the Porta Triumphalis emerges from the background in a diagonal direction. The soldiers are moving in a direction parallel to the bottom and look as though they would walk right past the arch and not through it. But you get the idea that they are actually headed through the arch. The artist fills the background space with the items taken from the Temple. While the two reliefs are of two different subject matters, they share a few common characteristics. In both reliefs, the soldiers are idealized, the stone is cut deep to cast shadows to make the folds in the fabric, the background is filled up, and the main focus of the reliefs affect the movement of the people.To the Romans, the story celebrated might and triumph, but to the Jewish people the story told the worst humiliation: the loss of independence in their homeland. It is a shame that the Romans soldiers forced the Jewish prisoners to parade through the streets in chains carrying the captured Temple Menorah. It is just like the Romans to deify a man that led the conquest against the Jews and to commemorate him by constructing a triumphal arch in his honor.