Roman Arches

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Arch of Janus

Arch of Janus
Arch of Janus. CC Flickr User TyB

The Arch of Janus Quadrifrons (Arcus Constantini), a quadrifrons triumphal arch, was built in the 4th century on top of the Cloaca Maxima. The name "Arch of Janus" came later, perhaps in the Renaissance. The Arch of Janus is located at the Velabrum (a commercial area on the land between the northwest slope of the Palatine and the Capitoline) at the northeast corner of the Forum Boarium. It was built of concrete covered with white marble 12 sq. m x 16 m high. The arches are 10.6x5.7m.

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02
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Arch of Septimius Severus

Arch of Septimius Severus
Arch of Septimius Severus. CC Flickr User jemartin03

The triumphal Arch of Septimius Severus stands in the Roman Forum. Built in 203, it commemorates the emperor's victories in the east. The arch is 23m high, 25m wide and 11.85m deep. The middle archway is 12x7m; the side archways are: 7.8x3m.

The style of the four columns is composite. The columns stand on high bases on which bas relief scenes of Severus' legionaries leading prisoners. There are scenes from the war across the top, as well.

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More on Roman Triumphs

03
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Arch of Titus

Arch of Titus
Arch of Titus. CC Flickr User antmoose

The last emperor in the first Roman imperial dynasty was the Julio-Claudian Emperor Nero. During his reign, he sent his competent general Titus Flavius Vespasianus (Vespasian) to suppress the Jewish revolt (A.D. 66-70). By the year 68, most of Judaea had been recovered (BBC Vespasian). On June 9, Nero committed assisted suicide. Vespasian left his eldest son, Titus, in Judaea while he went home to Rome (to be precise, he was born in Italy, at Falacrina near Sabine Reate [DIR Vespasian] but not in Rome) where he eventually re-established stable government when he became emperor, the first of the Flavian Dynasty. In August of A.D. 70, Titus took Jerusalem and destroyed the temple.

The Arch of Ttitus commemorates this victory.

Located in the Roman Forum at the highest point on the Via Sacra, the Arch of Titus (Arcus Titi) is the oldest surviving arch in Rome. It was built to celebrate Titus' victory in Jerusalem, but Titus died before it could be finished. Titus' brother Domitian dedicated the Pentelic marble monument (13.5m wide, 15.4m high, and 4.75m deep; with archway 8.3x5.36m) in A.D. 85, 4 years after Titus' death. There was originally a bronze quadriga on the top. The arch was damaged and then rebuilt/restored in 1822. Napoleon commissioned triumphal arches made in imitation of the Arch of Titus.

Flavian Emperors

  1. Vespasian (r. A.D. 69-79)
  2. Titus (r. A.D. 79-81)
  3. Domitian (r. A.D. 81-96)

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04
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Arch of Constantine

Arch of Constantine
Arch of Constantine as seen from the Colosseum in Rome. CC Flickr User Jake&Brady

Located in Rome between the Colosseum and the Palatine, the Arch of Constantine (Arcus Constantini) commemorates Constantine's victory over Maxentius in A.D. 312 at the Milvian Bridge. It was probably finished in 315/16 as a celebration of the 10th year of the reign of Constantine.

The Arch of Constantine is white marble 21m high, 25.7m wide, and 7.4m deep; the central archway is 11.5x6.5m and the side arches are 7.4x3.36m. There were 8 fluted Corinthian columns of giallo antico (yellow marble), of which 7 remain. Some decorative sculptures on the arch come from other monuments. Some of the relief sculptures show scenes of Dacian conflicts; others to scenes from the life of Constantine.

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05
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Arch of Trajan at Benevento

Arch of Trajan at Benevento
Arch of Trajan at Benevento. CC Flickr User philTizzani

The Arch of Trajan at Benevento (Latin, Beneventum) was a triumphal arch built in 114 at the entrance to the city of Beneventum from the Appia Trajana, connecting Rome with Brundisium (Brindisi). The Appia Via had ended at Capua, the Appia Trajana extended the road to Brundisium. At the time, the Arch of Trajan was part of the city walls. Its bas relief sculptures portrayed the life and military adventures of the Emperor Trajan.

This arch is one of about two dozen commemorative monuments to Trajan ("A Revised List of Roman Memorial and Triumphal Arches," by A. L. Frothingham, Jr.; American Journal of Archaeology (1904)).

The Arch of Trajan was known in the Middle Ages as the Golden Gateway ("Some Observations on the Arch of Trajan at Beneventum," by Elmer Truesdell Merrill; TAPhA (1901)).