Arch of Titus
This arch, dramatically situated at the highest point of the Via Sacra, is one of the most celebrated monuments in the Forum Romanum. The oldest surviving arch in Rome, it is the simplest, has only one opening, and is perhaps most well-proportioned of the arches still standing. It was built to commemorate the immensely popular emperor Titus, who died suddenly during a plague A.D. 81, after only a two year reign, and to celebrate his victory in Jerusalem. Domitian, the younger, not-so-popular brother of Titus, had the arch constructed to honor Titus' popularity, and possibly to take advantage of it for himself; it was dedicated in A.D. 85 with great pomp. There are several interesting relief sculptures on the arch, including depictions of the apotheosis of Titus (which is why the arch inscription refers to Divus Titus), and the spoils of the Jerusalem Temple carried in triumphal procession. The menorah and the table of show bread carried by Roman soldiers are thought to represent the procession at the dedication of the arch. The original bronze quadriga is missing from the top, but the attic inscriptions are vivid. It survived the Middle Ages because it was built into the fortress of the Frangipani family; thus, however, the outer sides had to be rebuilt (this was done in 1822-23 out of travertine instead of the original marble so it could be distinguished.) Napoleon was so moved by the view from the Arch of Septimius Severus - at the lower end of the Forum - to the Arch of Titus, that he ordered his architects to reproduce this in Paris; the result is the Arc du Triomphe de Carrousel (a life-size imitation of the Arch of Septimius Severus) and the more famous Arc du Triomphe, which maintains the exact proportions of the Arch of Titus, though several times larger.
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