Arch of Trajan from Benevento

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Arch of Trajan from Benevento

The Arch of Trajan of Benevento (Porta Aurea ; Arco di Trajano) , a one-gate Roman honorary arch similar to the Arch of Titus in Rome , is in the Italian city of Benevento . It marks the beginning of the ancient Via Traiana, which stretched from Benevento to Brundisium . The arch stands on Via Pasquale , where it continues from Via Traiana and where Viale dei Rettori and Via del Pomerio run to the left and right.

The figurative representations of the Arch of Trajan are the only completely preserved representation of a Roman triumphal frieze . It is 41 m long and consists of 160 figures, 6 sacrificial animals, 5 carts, 6 riding horses and the triumphal quadriga (B. Andreae). To properly understand the image program , one must start at the northeast corner and walk clockwise around the arch.


There is an identical inscription on both sides of the attic:

Imp (eratori) Caesari divi Nervae filio
Nervae Traiano optimo Aug (usto)
Germanico Dacico pontif (ici) max (imo) trib (unicia)
potest (ate) XVIII imp (eratori) VII co (n) s (uli) VI p (atri) p (atriae)
fortissimo principi senatus p (opulus) q (ue) R (omanus)
"To the emperor Caesar Nerva Traianus, the best Augustus, son of the divine Nerva, victor over Germania, victor over Dacia, pontifex maximus, holder of tribunician power for the 18th time, seven times imperator, six times consul, father of the fatherland, the strongest Princeps, (have erected the arch) Senate and people of Rome. "

According to the inscription, the arch of honor was dedicated to the Emperor Trajan . A date of origin results from the mention of the 18th tribunicia potestas , the 7th Emperor's acclamation and the addition of the honorary title Optimus to the name Princeps. Thus, the founding date can be dated to a period between August 29 and December 9, 114 . Apollodorus of Damascus has been handed down as an architect .

One can also read from this inscription that the Roman Senate was also active as a builder outside of Rome.

The image program

Arch of Trajan in an 18th century engraving by Giovanni Battista Piranesi

The reliefs together form a political program. In the lower zone you will find people from around the emperor, in the attic zone mainly gods and heroes.

The reliefs in the passage of the arch

According to Hassel, these reliefs show a local program and reflect events that were important for Benevento and the surrounding area. On the one hand you can see the Pietas erga Deos (sacrifice) and on the other hand the Pietas erga Homines (Alimentatio Italiae).

The city side shows scenes connecting the emperor with the capital, the land side scenes depicting Trajan's care for the provinces. The sacrificial relief shows a bull sacrifice by the emperor in the presence of the genius of the senate, the lictors and other Romans. It is often interpreted as an inauguration offering for the Via Trajana.

The meaning of the picture is that the emperor makes sacrifices, that he practices pietas and that the people and the senate are witnesses to it. The Pietas Augusti is shown.

The opposite relief shows the alimentation of needy children, which was founded by Trajan. This event was determined on the basis of an inscription referring to an alimentary foundation. Four goddesses are present, one of which is labeled Roma, through them the content becomes much more general to the Alimentatio Italiae. The picture is only one of nine where the emperor acts as a benefactor.

The reliefs on the land side

On the land side facing away from Rome and Benevento, aspects of the provinces and the borders of the empire are illuminated. The city side facing Rome and Benevento is devoted to domestic political problems.

Land side, lower zone on the left: the emperor and the lictors face four barbarians. Jupiter, the god of contracts, stands between the two groups, holding a bolt of lightning in his left hand. The picture shows the securing of the borders through contracts with the neighbors.

Land side, lower zone on the right: Here the emperor faces three men. The men opposite the emperor could be members of the Roman army. The scene is interpreted as the emperor's vigilance over the army, even in times of peace.

Land side, middle zone on the left: The relief shows the pattern of a soldier representative of all evictions under Trajan's government. It means that the emperor is responsible for maintaining the fighting power of the Roman army and thus for the security of the empire (Klaus Fittschen).

Land side, middle zone on the right: A woman with a wall crown pulls a plow through the earth in the presence of the emperor. A little boy and a girl stand up from the ground. The goddess cannot be clearly identified, but it could be Roma, Italia, Provincia or Tellus (Fittschen). It is a symbol of fertility. Two other deities complete the scene. Mars stands between the goddesses. The image should symbolize the ability to defend against the outside, as a prerequisite for peace for the inside.

Land side, attic right: The relief shows the province of Dacia, which Trajan added to the Roman Empire after two wars.

Land side, attic left: This relief concludes the provincial theme. It is the only incompletely preserved relief. In the right half you can see four deities, Silvanus, Diana, Ceres and Bacchus - Liber Pater. The deities all represent the area of ​​fertility, they are especially protective deities of the provinces. The emperor faced this group.

The reliefs on the city side

City side, lower zone left and right: You can see an Adventus Augusti, but not the historical entry in AD 99.

In the right relief, the emperor, surrounded by 12 lictors, is led into the city by a Roman. In the left relief he is expected by the genius senatus, the genius populi romani and a representative of the Roman citizens in the cities of Italy and the provinces as well as by the people in front of the Curia Julia at the Roman Forum (Fittschen).

City side, middle zone left: The picture shows the dismissal of veterans.

City side, middle zone on the right: Three togati of the second or third class stand opposite the emperor, the port god behind them identifies them as citizens of a port city (Fittschen). The scene cannot yet be precisely determined, so at the moment it is simply referred to as Trajan's regulation of Roman trade.

City side, attic left and right: the two pictures belong together. Another Adventus Augusti is shown. A group of six lictors stands opposite the emperor, who is surrounded by two lictors. Architectural parts can be seen in the background. The two people in the foreground are identified as Romans by the toga.

The rest of the relief decoration (Fittschen): The small frieze below the parapet shows Trajan's triumphal procession in 107 AD after the victory of the Dacian. Viktoria wreath Trajan in the arch of the passage arch. Two bull-killing Victorias face each other in four friezes on the outside of the arch. The arches on the city side contain two more Victorias. The other pictures are of a peaceful nature.

See also


Web links

Commons : Arch of Trajan from Benevento  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. CIL 9, 1558 .
  2. W. Gauer.
  3. Klaus Fittschen .

Coordinates: 41 ° 7 ′ 57 ″  N , 14 ° 46 ′ 45 ″  E