Arch of Titus (#43)

Welcome back to Rome Across Europe! We have taken some time off, but are now back providing you with the best travel and historical information possible about what we believe to be the greatest period in all of history.

Before the break, we had been examining the list of 52 Ancient Roman Monuments which had been claimed as a “must see” by Touropia Travel Experts. The last location we had checked out was #44, the Arch of Septimius Severus in Leptis Magna.

Today we present #43, the Arch of Titus (Arcus Titi)!Front

Constructed c. AD 82 by the Emperor Domitian shortly after the death of his older brother Titus, the arch serves to commemorate the victories of Titus including the Siege of Jerusalem (AD 70). Located on Rome’s Via Sacra, just to the south-east of the Roman Forum, the arch has provided the general model for many triumphal arches erected since the 16th Century.Map of Central Rome

Based on the style of sculptural details, Domitian’s favored architect Rabirius is typically credited with the creation of said arch. The Frangipani family turned it into a fortified tower in the Middle Ages.

Starting with Raffaele Stern in 1817 and continued by Valadier under Pius VII in 1821, the Arch of Titus was one of the first buildings sustaining a modern restoration in Rome. Having new capitals and travertine masonry distinguishable from the original, the restoration was a model for the country side of Porta Pia.

The arch is large with both fluted and unfluted columns, the latter being a result of 19th Century restoration. The spandrels on the upper left and right of the arch contain personifications of victory as winged women. Between the spandrels is the keystone, on which there stands a female on the East side and a male on the West side.

Detail of the Central Soffit CoffersThe soffit of the axial archway is deeply coffered with a relief of the apotheosis of Titus at the center. The sculptural program also includes two panel reliefs lining the passageway within the arch. Both commemorate the joint triumphus celebrated by Titus and his father Vespasian in the summer of AD 71.

The southern panel depicts the spoils taken from the Temple in Jerusalem. The Menorah is the main focus and is carved in deep relief. In 2012 the Arch of Titus Digital Restoration Project discovered remains of yellow ochre paint on the menorah relief.Relief showing spoils from Siege of Jerusalem

Other sacred objects being carried in the triumphal procession are the Gold Trumpets, the fire pans for removing the ashes from the altar, and the Table of Shew bread. These spoils were likely originally colored gold, with the background in blue.

The north panel depicts Titus as triumphator attended by various genii and lictors carrying fasces. A helmeted Amazonian, Valour, leads the Quadriga which carries Titus.

Winged Victory crowns him with a laurel wreath. The juxtaposition is significant in that it is one of the first examples of divinities and humans being present in one scene together.

The sculpture of the outer faces of the 2 great piers was lost when the Arch of Titus was incorporated in medieval defensive walls. The attic of the arch was originally crowned by more statuary, perhaps of a gilded chariot.

The main inscription used to be ornamented by letters made of perhaps silvergold or some other metal. The inscription in Roman square capitals reads:

InscriptionSENATVS

POPVLVSQVE·ROMANVS
DIVO·TITO·DIVI·VESPASIANI·F(ILIO)

VESPASIANO·AVGVSTO

(Senatus Populusque Romanus divo Tito divi Vespasiani filio Vespasiano Augusto)

which means “The Roman Senate and People (dedicate this) to the divine Titus Vespasianus Augustus, son of the divine Vespasian”.

The opposite side of the Arch of Titus received new inscriptions after it was restored during the pontificate of Pope Pius VII by Giuseppe Valadier in 1821. The restoration was intentionally made in travertine to differentiate between the original and the restored portions.

The inscription reads:Newer Inscription

INSIGNE · RELIGIONIS · ATQVE · ARTIS · MONVMENTVM

VETVSTATE · FATISCENS
PIVS · SEPTIMVS · PONTIFEX · MAX(IMVS)
NOVIS · OPERIBVS · PRISCVM · EXEMPLAR · IMITANTIBVS
FVLCIRI · SERVARIQVE · IVSSIT

ANNO · SACRI · PRINCIPATVS · EIVS · XXIIII

(Insigne religionis atque artis, monumentum, vetustate fatiscens: Pius Septimus, Pontifex Maximus, novis operibus priscum exemplar imitantibus fulciri servarique iussit. Anno sacri principatus eius XXIV)

(This) monument, remarkable in terms of both religion and art,
had weakened from age:
Pius the Seventh, Supreme Pontiff,
by new works on the model of the ancient exemplar
ordered it reinforced and preserved.

In the 24th year of his sacred rulership.

From the Palatine Hill with Colosseum in backLike most things from Ancient Rome, the Arch of Titus has been the focus of several pieces of artwork. Our favorite pair come from Canaletto (1744, left) and Constantin Hansen (1839, right).Canaletto 1744  and Constantin Hansen 1839

There are many works modeled on or inspired by the Arch of Titus. Some of these works include:

Facade of the Basilica di Sant’Andrea di Mantova (1462) by Leon Battista Alberti

The Arc de TriompheParisFrance (1806)

The National Memorial ArchValley Forge National Historical ParkPennsylvania (1910)

The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ ArchBrooklyn (1892)

The Washington Square Arch, Manhattan (1892)

The India Gate, New Delhi, India (1931)

The Fusiliers’ Arch, Dublin (1907)

As seen in Ancient RomeWe hope you enjoyed learning about this monument and, just maybe, it may have inspired you to visit some Roman historical site on your own. Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

 

References:

 

Artus, Paul. Art and Architecture of the Roman Empire. Bellona Books, 2006. ISBN 978-0-9582693-1-5.

Lekić, Vedran. A Let’s Go City Guide: Rome, 2004. ISBN 1-4050-3329-0.

Mishory, Alec. Israel National Symbols: The State Emblem. Jewish Virtual Library.

Satin, Morton. One Man’s Campaign Against the Arch of Titus – and How It Changed Italy’s Jews, 2013.

Platner, Samuel Ball. A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome: Arch of Titus.

Woodward, Christopher. The Buildings of Europe: Rome, 1995. ISBN 0-7190-4032-9.

“Arch of Titus”. Smarthistory at Khan Academy. Retrieved December 19, 2012.

Arch of Titus History and photos.

Touropia.com.

Book 4; Thought 28

simplicity-in-photographyHast thou seen those things? Look also at these. Do not disturb thyself. Make thyself all simplicity. Does any one do wrong? It is to himself that he does the wrong. Has anything happened to thee? Well; out of the universe from the beginning everything which happens has been apportioned and spun out to thee. In a word, thy life is short. Thou must turn to profit the present by the aid of reason and justice. Be sober in thy relaxation.

Trajan – Emperor and Legacy

Welcome back to Rome Across Europe! We know we haven’t been as up to par as we would like, but that does not mean we won’t keep at it.

Yesterday you may have caught Trajan – Rise to Emperor, the opening half of our 2-part series on Imperator Caesar Nerva Traianus Divi Nervae filius Augustus. We now bring you the finale on Trajan as Emperor.Traianus_Glyptothek_Munich_336

Serving as a Legatus Legionis in Hispania Tarraconensis, in AD 89 Trajan supported Domitian against a revolt on the Rhine led by Antonius Saturninus. In September AD 96, Domitian was succeeded by the unpopular Marcus Cocceius Nerva.

After a brief and tumultuous year in power, culminating in a revolt by members of the Praetoriani, Nerva was compelled to adopt the more popular Trajan as his heir and successor. When Nerva died on 27 January 98, he was succeeded by his adopted son without incident.

As Emperor, Trajan’s reputation has endured. He is one of the few rulers whose reputation has survived 19 Centuries.

Every Emperor after him was honored by the Senate with the wish Felicior Augusto, melior Traiano (that he be “luckier than Augustus and better than Trajan”). Among medieval Christian theologians, Trajan was considered a virtuous pagan.

The 18th Century historian Edward Gibbon popularized the notion of the Five Good Emperors, of whom Trajan was #2. However, as far as literary sources are concerned, an extant continuous account of Trajan’s reign does not exist.

Book 68 in Cassius Dio‘s Roman History is the best source for the political history of Trajan’s rule. Besides this, Pliny the Younger‘s Panegyricus and Dio of Prusa‘s orations are the best surviving contemporary sources.

Both are flattering speeches that describe an idealized monarch and an equally idealized view of Trajan’s rule, concerning themselves more with ideology than with actual fact. The Volume 10 of Pliny’s letters contains his correspondence with Trajan, which deals with various aspects of Imperial Roman government.

This correspondence is neither intimate nor candid. It is an exchange of official mail, in which Pliny’s stance is almost showing a willingness to please Trajan. Therefore, discussion of Trajan and his rule in modern historiography cannot avoid speculation.

Early in his reign, Trajan annexed the Nabataean Kingdom, creating the province of Arabia Petraea. His conquest of Dacia enriched the Empire greatly, as the new province possessed many valuable gold mines.

Trajan’s war against the Parthian Empire ended with the sack of Ctesiphon and the annexation of Armenia and Mesopotamia. His campaigns expanded the Roman Empire to its greatest territorial extent.

Known for his philanthropic rule, Trajan oversaw extensive public building programs and implementing Alimenta, which earned him his enduring reputation as the Second of the Five Good Emperors who presided over an era of peace and prosperity in the Mediterranean world.

In late AD 117, while sailing back to Rome, Trajan fell ill and died of a stroke in the city of Selinus. He was deified by the Senate and his ashes were laid to rest under Trajan’s Column.Roman_Empire_Trajan_117AD

He was succeeded by his adopted son Hadrian. Unlike many lauded rulers in history, Trajan’s reputation has survived for nearly 19 Centuries because of his work as a civilian administrator.

Trajan is best known for his extensive public building program which reshaped Rome. Trajan left numerous enduring landmarks on the Capital such as Trajan’s ForumTrajan’s Market and Trajan’s Column.Forum Mercatus  & ColumnaTraiani

Ancient sources on Trajan’s personality and accomplishments are unanimously positive. For example, Pliny the Younger celebrates Trajan in his panegyric as a wise and just Emperor and a moral man.

Cassius Dio added that Trajan always remained dignified and fair. After the setbacks of the 3rd Century, Trajan, together with Augustus, became in the Later Roman Empire the paragon of the most positive traits of the Imperial order.

The Christianization of Rome resulted in further embellishment of his legend. It was commonly said in medieval times that Pope Gregory I, through divine intercession, resurrected Trajan from the dead and baptized him into the Christian faith. An account of this is featured in the Golden Legend.Roman_Emperor_Traianus_Ankara

Some theologians such as Thomas Aquinas discussed Trajan as an example of a virtuous pagan. In the Divine ComedyDante, following this legend, sees the spirit of Trajan in the Heaven of Jupiter with other historical and mythological persons noted for their justice.

Also, a mural of Trajan stopping to provide justice for a poor widow is present in the first terrace of Purgatory as a lesson to those who are purged for being proud. An episode referred to as the justice of Trajan was reflected in several art works.

In the 18th Century King Charles III of Spain commissioned Anton Raphael Mengs to paint The Triumph of Trajan on the ceiling of the banquet hall of the Royal Palace of Madrid – considered among the best works of this artist.The Triumph of Trajan

It was only during the Enlightenment that this legacy began to be contested, when doubts were expressed about the militarized character of Trajan’s reign in contrast to the “moderate” practices of his immediate successors. Mommsen adopted a divided stance towards Trajan, at some point of his posthumously published lectures even speaking about his “vainglory” (Scheinglorie). Mommsen also speaks of Trajan’s “insatiable, unlimited lust for conquest”.

It was exactly this military character of Trajan’s reign that attracted his early 20th Century biographer, the Italian Fascist historian Roberto Paribeni, who in his 1927 dual volume biography Optimus Princeps described Trajan’s reign as the acme of the Roman principate, which he saw as Italy’s patrimony. Following in Paribeni’s footsteps, the German historian Alfred Heuss saw in Trajan “the accomplished human embodiment of the imperial title”.

Trajan’s original English-language biography by Julian Bennett is also positive one in that it assumes that Trajan was an active policy-maker concerned with the management of the Empire as a whole. This was something his reviewer Lendon considers an anachronistic outlook that sees in the Roman Emperor a kind of modern administrator.

During the 1980s, the Romanian historian Eugen Cizek took a more nuanced view as he described the changes in the personal ideology of Trajan’s reign, stressing the fact that it became ever more autocratic and militarized, especially after 112 and towards the Parthian War.

The biography by the German historian Karl Strobel stresses the continuity between Domitian’s and Trajan’s reigns, saying that Trajan’s rule followed the same autocratic and sacred character of Domitian’s, culminating in a failed Parthian adventure intended as the crown of his personal achievement.Trajan2

For Paul Veyne, what is to be retained from Trajan’s “stylish” qualities was that he was the last Roman emperor to think of the empire as a purely Italian and Rome-centered hegemony of conquest. In contrast, his successor Hadrian would stress the notion of the Empire as ecumenical and of the Emperor as universal benefactor and not ruler of this world.

We hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the life of Trajan and his reign as ruler of the Roman world. Please check us out again soon to see what we have in store for you.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

 

References

Ancel, R. Manning. SoldiersMilitary Heritage. December 2001. Volume 3, No. 3: 12, 14, 16, 20 (Trajan, Emperor of Rome).

Bennett, J. Trajan: Optimus Princeps, 2nd Edition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press 2001. ISBN 0-253-21435-1.

Bowersock, G.W. Roman Arabia. Harvard University Press, 1983.

Finley, M.I. The Ancient Economy. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. ISBN 0-520-21946-5.

Fuller, J.F.C. A Military History of the Western World. New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1987 and 1988.

Isaac, B. The Limits of Empire, The Roman Army in the East, Revised Edition. Oxford University Press, 1990. ISBN 0-19-814891-7 OCLC 20091873.

Kennedy, D. The Roman Army in Jordan, Revised Edition. Council for British Research in the Levant, 2004. ISBN 0-9539102-1-0 OCLC 59267318.

Lepper, F.A. Trajan’s Parthian War. London: Oxford University Press, 1948. OCLC 2898605.

Luttvak, Edward N. The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire: From the First Century AD to the Third. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979. ISBN 0-8018-2158-4.

Wildfeuer, C.R.H. Trajan, Lion of Rome: the Untold Story of Rome’s Greatest Emperor. Aquifer Publishing, 2009. ISBN 0-9818460-6-8 OCLC 496004778.

Cassius Dio, Roman History Book 68, English translation.

Aurelius Victor (attrib.), Epitome de Caesaribus Chapter 13, English translation.

Pliny the Younger, Letters, Book 10, English translation.

Trajan – Rise to Emperor

Welcome to Rome Across Europe! We’ve been away for a little bit, but we’re not going anywhere anytime soon.

During this lapse a lot has happened. My wife and I had our first son (just before the break), we moved from a 1-bedroom apartment to a 3-bedroom house, and had to get a new internet provider (suddenlink is horrific). But now it’s time to get back to business.

We thought we’d come back with an article about someone both captivating and polarizing. Without further adieu, we bring you Imperator Caesar Nerva Traianus Divi Nervae Filius Augustus!Büste_des_Kaisers_Trajan

Born 18 September 53 AD, Trajan was Roman Emperor from 98 AD until his death in 117 AD. Officially declared by the Senate Optimus Princeps (Best Ruler), Trajan is remembered as a successful soldier-emperor who presided over the greatest military expansion in Roman History, leading the Empire to attain its maximum territorial extent by the time of his death.

Hispania_10ADIn the city of Italica, in the Roman province of Hispania Baetica, Marcus Ulpius Traianus was born to a non-Patrician family of Italian and perhaps Iberian origin. Although frequently designated the original Provincial Emperor, Trajan appears to have hailed, at least on his father’s side, from the area of Tuder (modern Todi) in northern Umbria.

Trajan’s birthplace of Italica was founded as a Roman military colony in 206 BC, although it is unknown when the Ulpii arrived there. No matter what Trajan’s ancestors at least became Romans when the city became a Municipium with Latin citizenship in the mid-1st Century BC.

Trajan was the son of Marcia and Marcus Ulpius Traianus, a prominent Senator and General from the gens Ulpia. Marcus Ulpius Traianus the elder served Vespasian in the First Jewish-Roman War, commanding the Legio X Fretensis.Inscription_of_10th_legion_in_Jerusalem

As a young man, Trajan rose through the ranks of the Exercitus Romanus, serving in some of the most contentious parts of the Empire’s frontier. In AD 76–77, Trajan’s father was Legatus Pro Praetore Syriae (or Governor of Syria), where Trajan himself remained as Tribunus Legionis.

After his father’s replacement, Trajan then seems to have been transferred to an unspecified Rhine province, and Pliny the Younger implies that he engaged in active combat duty during both commissions.

In about AD 86, Trajan’s cousin Publius Aelius Hadrianus Afer died, leaving his young children Hadrian and Paulina orphans. Trajan and a colleague of his, Publius Acilius Attianus, became co-guardians of the 2 children, raising them in their respective households.

Around AD 91, Trajan was nominated as Consul, and he brought Apollodorus of Damascus with him to Rome. Around this time he married Pompeia Plotina, a noble woman from the settlement at Nîmes.

Legio VII GeminaAs the details of Trajan’s military career are obscure, it is only sure that in AD 89, as Legate of Legio VII Gemina in Hispania Tarraconensis, he supported Domitian against an attempted coup. Trajan was stated to have later held some unspecified consular commission as Governor of both Pannonia and Germania Superior . Pliny attributes to him, at the time, various and unspecified feats of arms.

As Domitian’s successor, Nerva was unpopular with the Army and had just been forced by his Praetorian Prefect Casperius Aelianus to execute Domitian’s killers. Nerva then felt the need to do something in order to avoid ousting by gaining the support of the military.

To accomplish this, Nerva named Trajan as his adoptive son and successor in the summer of AD 97. This was allegedly based solely on Trajan’s outstanding military merits, but there are hints in contemporary literary sources that Trajan’s adoption was imposed on Nerva.

Historia AugustaAccording to the Historia Augusta, it was the future Emperor Hadrian who brought word to Trajan of his adoption. Hadrian was then retained on the Rhine frontier by Trajan as a Tribunus Militum.

When Nerva died on 27 January 98, Trajan succeeded to the role of Emperor without any outward incident. Instead of heading straight to Rome upon news of his succession, Trajan made a lengthy tour of inspection on the Rhine and Danube frontiers.

This hints to the possible fact that Trajan’s power position in Rome was unsure and that he first had to assure himself of the loyalty of the soldiers on the front lines. It is noteworthy that Trajan ordered Praefectus Aelianus to attend him in Germany, where he was apparently executed, and said post being taken by Attius Suburanus.

In any event, Trajan’s accession would qualify more as a successful coup than an orderly succession.

Sculpture, London, United Kingdom
Sculpture, London, United Kingdom

This brings us to a halt on the beginning portion of Trajan’s life. Tomorrow we shall continue with his life as Emperor along with his legacy.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

 

References:

Ancel, R. Manning. SoldiersMilitary Heritage. December 2001. Volume 3, No. 3: 12, 14, 16, 20 (Trajan, Emperor of Rome).

Bennett, J. Trajan: Optimus Princeps, 2nd Edition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press 2001. ISBN 0-253-21435-1.

Bowersock, G.W. Roman Arabia. Harvard University Press, 1983.

Finley, M.I. The Ancient Economy. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. ISBN 0-520-21946-5.

Fuller, J.F.C. A Military History of the Western World. New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1987 and 1988.

Isaac, B. The Limits of Empire, The Roman Army in the East, Revised Edition. Oxford University Press, 1990. ISBN 0-19-814891-7 OCLC 20091873.

Kennedy, D. The Roman Army in Jordan, Revised Edition. Council for British Research in the Levant, 2004. ISBN 0-9539102-1-0 OCLC 59267318.

Lepper, F.A. Trajan’s Parthian War. London: Oxford University Press, 1948. OCLC 2898605.

Luttvak, Edward N. The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire: From the First Century AD to the Third. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979. ISBN 0-8018-2158-4.

Wildfeuer, C.R.H. Trajan, Lion of Rome: the Untold Story of Rome’s Greatest Emperor. Aquifer Publishing, 2009. ISBN 0-9818460-6-8 OCLC 496004778.

Cassius Dio, Roman History Book 68, English translation.

Aurelius Victor (attrib.), Epitome de Caesaribus Chapter 13, English translation.

Pliny the Younger, Letters, Book 10, English translation.