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Arch of Augustus

Susa, Italy

1st century BCE

11.93 m long and 7.3 m wide


It was originally built at the end of the 1st century BC to record the renewed alliance between Emperor Augustus and Marcus Julius Cottius, a celto-ligurian ruler, made king and Roman prefect of the Cottian Alps. 

The arch has a unique arcade, in which the archivolt is supported by pilasters. The entablature rests on four Corinthian columns placed at the extremities of each corner, such that a quarter of each drum is embedded in the monument. The lowest architrave is composed of three bands of which the lowest band is thicker than the middle band, and this in turn is thicker than the top band. Above the architrave, a frieze composed of a bass relief stretches around all four sides. Above that is the cornice which has twenty-two corbels on each face and twelve on each side of the arch. The corbels’ panels are decorated with roses. On tob of that rests the attic, which displays an inscription on both faces.

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Do you know who I’m most worried about? It’s not my parents, and it’s not the lads at college. It’s Finn. We’ve been mates since primary. We’ve had sleepovers, we’ve topped and tailed in the same bed. When he finds out, I don’t want him thinking back to them times and getting the wrong idea. He’s my mate, you know?

If the Arch of Titus looks familiar to you, it’s probably because the monument is the inspiration for Paris’ Arc de Triomphe. 

Arch of Titus, Rome, Italy 

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Arch of the Sergii

Pula, Croatia

29-27 BCE

The arch commemorates three brothers of the Sergii family, specifically Lucius Sergius Lepidus, a tribune serving in the twenty-ninth legion that participated in the Battle of Actium and disbanded in 27 BCE . This suggests an approximate date of construction: 29-27 BCE. The arch stood behind the original naval gate of the early Roman colony. The Sergii were a powerful family of officials in the colony and retained their power for centuries.

The honorary triumphal arch, originally a city gate, was erected as a symbol of the victory at Actium. It was paid for by the wife of Lepidus, Salvia Postuma Sergia, sister of the three brothers. Both of their names are carved in the stone along with Lucius Sergius and Gaius Sergius, the honoree’s father and uncle respectively. In its original form, statues of the two elders flanked Lepidus on both sides on the top of the arch. On either side of the inscription, a frieze depicts cupids, garlands and bucrania.

This small arch with pairs of crenelated Corinthian columns and winged victories in the spandrels, was built on the facade of a gate (Porta Aurea) in the walls, so the part, visible from the town-side, was decorated. The decoration is late hellenistic, with major Asia Minor influences. The low relief on the frieze represents a scene with a war chariot drawn by horses.