Arch Titus Apotheosis

detail of the Arch for Titus's interior archway, with Titus in apotheosis

Arch for Titus, detail of the archway

detail of Arch for Titus showing Apotheosis panel at the apex of the interior archway

The interior archway of the Arch for Titus features a series of intricately sculpted panels, called coffers. The largest of these, at the apex, contains a relief of Titus on the back of an eagle.  This depiction of the emperor and the eagle likely refers to the apotheosis of Titus after his death. Apotheosis, the transformation from mortal to divine, was the ultimate goal for many Roman emperors, and required the recognition of the Senate. As Naomi Norman has argued, an emperor’s triumph, also awarded by the Senate, was seen as the first step to earning apotheosis. Norman argues further that this relief is most legible when the viewer is walking away from the forum, as one would during an imperial funeral. In this way, the sculptural program connects the ideas of military victory, triumph, and divinity.

-GCH and KBC

Naomi J. Norman, “Imperial Triumph and Apotheosis:  The Arch of Titus in Rome,” in Koine:  Mediterranean Studies in Honor of H. Ross Holloway, eds. Derek B Counts and Anthony S. Tuck (Oxford:  Oxbow, 2009), 41-53.