Arch of Titus

The Arch of Titus (Italian: Arco di Tito; Latin: Arcus Titi) is a 1st-century CE honorific arch, located on the Via Sacra, Rome, just to the south-east of the Roman Forum. It was constructed in c. 81 CE by the Emperor Domitian shortly after the death of his older brother Titus to commemorate Titus's official deification or consecratio and the victory of Titus together with their father, Vespasian, over the Jewish rebellion in Judaea.

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The arch contains panels depicting the triumphal procession celebrated in 71 CE after the Roman victory culminating in the fall of Jerusalem, and provides one of the few contemporary depictions of artifacts of Herod's Temple. It became a symbol of the Jewish diaspora, and the menorah depicted on the arch served as the model for the menorah used as the emblem of the state of Israel.

Architectural Details

circa 81 CE

Southern Inner Panel
The south inner panel (inspect) depicts the spoils taken from the Temple in Jerusalem. The golden candelabrum or Menorah is the main focus and is carved in deep relief. 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 Shewbread. These spoils were likely originally colored gold, with the background in blue.

circa 81 CE

Northern Inner Panel
The north inner panel depicts Titus as triumphator attended by various genii and lictors, who carry fasces. A helmeted Amazonian, Valour, leads the quadriga or four horsed chariot, 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. This contrasts with the panels of the Ara Pacis, where humans and divinities are separated.

circa 81 CE

Western Inscription
The original inscription is attached to the west side of the Arch. It is written in Roman square capitals and reads:
Translation: "The Senate and the Roman people (dedicate this) to the deified Titus Vespasian Augustus, son of the deified Vespasian."

circa 81 CE

Via Sacra
While the western stretch of the Via Sacra (Sacred Street) which runs through the Forum follows the original ancient route of the road, the eastern stretch between the end of the forum and the Colosseum, which passes underneath the Arch of Titus, is a redirection of the road built after the Great Fire of Rome in 64 CE.


See Also