gate of augustus

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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.

JULIAN: THE LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS

Many years before, a man was made deputy of Western Rome on behalf of the Emperor. When the man first arrived to his newly appointed office a woman cried out “This is the man who will restore the temples of the Gods!”

The man was in shock, for he was not a Galilean as his uncle Constantine the Apostate or his mother Basilina. For this man was Julian, a Hellene. A pagan. For now he was in the closet, but even though he did not know it yet, he would one day animate the woman’s word.

Now just over half a decade later, Julian received the news he wanted to hear. He swiftly begun to draft a letter to his friend Maximus of Ephesus who introduced him to the very Gods that his family abandoned decades ago.

“I worship the Gods openly and the whole mass of the troops who are returning with me worship the Gods.” penned the new Augustus, “I sacrifice oxen in public. I have offered many great public sacrifices to the Gods as thanks offerings. The Gods command me to restore Their worship in the utmost purity and I obey Them, yes and with a good will.”

Julian sat down his writing utensil, his hands trembling in excitement. He looked to the heavens and the Gods gave him a warm smile. Like a lighthouse guiding a ship in a storm, they led Julian on the right path and landed him on the purple. The civil war that erupted across the Empire had ended just as fast as it had begun, a bloodless conflict. Julian’s cousin, the now-deceased Emperor Constantius II who had ruled arbitrarily, the very man who years ago murdered Julian’s own father and brother, was dead, having received Thanatos’ cold embrace in a fever far away from any battlefield. Julian, the Caesar of the West, was now recognized as ruler of the East. Julian was now the sole ruler of Rome.

No longer did he have to shave. No, now he was newly bearded, with all the grace of youth. No longer did he attend a mass to listen to the sermons of a bishop. No, now he publicly embraced the message of Heracles, the begotten son of the sun. No longer did he scribe for someone else’s church. No, now he wrote for his Gods, his philosophy and his temples. In his heartfelt gratitude to the Gods who he felt love for like the family he never had, Julian legalized temples to be built again and public sacrifice to be performed once again. Hellenism was to be made the state religion of Rome again, and with the utmost piety.

Julian entered the capital city of where he was born on December 11, 361 through its Golden Gate as sole Augustus of the Roman Empire. The atmosphere was dreamy and energetic. He could hear the cries of joy coming from his people, who appeared en masse to cheer their new Emperor on.

Temples were constructed and great rituals were performed. He reformed the faith and devoutly organized it. He wrote great literature and sang hymns of praise to the Gods. He both refurbished the Oracle of Delphi and even begun helping the Jews rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem. For this is the man who was going to restore the temples of the Gods.

But his time was cut short. After a failed campaign against an aggressive Persia at his country’s borders, he was mortally wounded and laid semi-conscious in bed for three days. He was to die too young to fix the world before it would stop making sense. The light in the darkness was to fade.

An Oracle came before the semi-conscious Emperor who laid in bed. “A fiery chariot whirled among storm-clouds shall carry you to Olympus; loosed from the wretched suffering of men” spoke the wise priest, “You shall attain your Father’s halls of heavenly light, whence you have fallen and come into the body of a mortal man.”

It was June 28th that he was too greeted by a now-somber Thanatos. Serapis came before the dying Emperor and freed Julian from his corporeal bonds. The gentle God lifted Julian’s soul towards the Islands of the Blest; Elysium-bound, through a divine ray of light towards henosis. Helios, the King of All, hugged Julian with warm embrace.


“Whom the Gods love die young.”

-Menander

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Pont Flavien (English: Flavian Bridge)

Saint-Chamas, France

~12 BCE

25 m. in length


The bridge probably replaced an earlier wooden structure on the same site. It measures 21.4 metres  long by 6.2 metres wide.The two arches at either end, each standing 7 metres high with a single wide bay, are constructed of the same local stone as the bridge and are broader than they are tall. At the corners of the arches are fluted Corinthian pilasters at the top of which are carved eagles. Acanthus scrolls extend partway along the pediments, in the middle of which is an inscription that reads:

L·DONNIVS·C·F·FLAVOS·FLAMEN·ROMAE

ET·AVGVSTI·TESTAMENTO·FIEREI·IVSSIT

ARBITRATV·C·DONNEI·VENAE·ET·C·ATTEI·RVFEI

In translation, this means:

Lucius Donnius, son of Caius, Flavos, flamen [priest] of Rome and Augustus, has ordained in his will that [this monument] be built under the direction of Cauis Donnius Vena and Caius Attius Rufius.

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Arch of Augustus

Fano, Italy

9 CE


it was the principle gate of Colonia Julia Fanestris, a colonia established in the town of Fanum Fortunae (temple of Fortuna) by the Roman architect Vitruvius at the command of the Emperor Augustus, in commemoration of the victory over the Carthaginian general Hasdrubal Barca in the Battle of Metauro during the Second Punic War.

Constructed at the point at which the via Flaminia met the decumanus maximus of the city, the monument is dated to 9 CE by means of an inscription located on the frieze, with large characters carved in the rock which were once gilded in bronze. The inscription reports:

IMP. CESAR DIVI F. AVGVSTVS PONTIFEX MAXIMVS COS. XIII TRIBVNICIA POTESTATE XXXII IMP. XXVI PATER PATRIAE MURVM DEDIT

Imperator Caesar Augustus son of a god, Pontifex Maximus, Consul 13 times, recipient of tribunician power 32 times, acclaimed imperator 26 times, father of his country donated this wall.

Faced with opus quadratum from blocks of Istrian stone, the monument consists of two minor lateral arches and a larger central arch: the keystone of the latter is decorated with an image of an animal which is no longer recognisable but which most probably depicted an elephant. The main body, still well preserved, supported a large attic which is now lost, with a Corinthian pseudo-portico, in which there were seven arched windows separated by eight pseudo-columns.

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Arch of Augustus (Parthian Arch)

Rome

20 BCE

he Arch of Augustus was the triumphal arch of Augustus, located in the Roman Forum. It spanned the road between the Temple of Castor and Pollux and the Temple of Caesar, near the Temple of Vesta. It commemorated the return of the Parthian standards and replaced the earlier Arch of Octavian built on the same spot in 29 BC, to commemorate the Battle of Actium (31 BC) against Mark Antony and Cleopatra.

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Arch of Augustus

Rimini, Italy

27 BCE


The Arch of Augustus at Rimini was dedicated to the Emperor Augustus by the Roman Senate and is the oldest Roman arch which survives. It signaled the end of the via Flaminia, which connected the cities of Romagna to Rome, and spans the modern Corso d'Augusto (the ancient decumanus maximus), which led to the beginning of another road, the via Emilia, which ran northwest to Piacenza.

 Its style is simple but at the same time solemn. The central arch, which is of exceptional size, is flanked by two engaged columns with fluted shafts and Corinthian capitals. The four clipei (shields) placed next to the capitals each depict Roman divinities: Jupiter and Apollo on the Roman side, Neptune and Roma facing the city of Rimini. The gate’s principal function, aside from functioning as a city gate, was to support the lavish bronze statue of Augustus, depicted driving a quadriga. Follow ClassicalMonuments for a daily ancient treat!