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p33 Arcus

Collecting all the individual arcus entries on pp33‑47 of

Samuel Ball Platner (as completed and revised by Thomas Ashby):
A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome,
London: Oxford University Press, 1929.

Black-and‑white images are from Platner; any color photos are mine © William P. Thayer


Arcus (fornix, ianus): a large monument, square or rectangular in shape, usually standing free from other structures, and pierced by from one to three passage ways. It was said to have been invented by the Romans to take the place of an ordinary column or pedestal as a base for statues and honorary insignia. In process of time the arch itself became in some instances more important than what it supported, but this was probably not originally the case. For discussion of the Roman arch, see Graef in Baumeister's Denkmäler, 1864‑1889; Frothingham in AJA 1904, 1‑34, and Rev. Arch. 1905, II.216 ff.; Curtis in PAS II.26‑83; SJ 110‑115; BCH 1925, 143‑157 (in which it is maintained that the Greeks derived the double column as a base for sculpture from the single column, while the Romans added the arch; the simplest form is seen in the arch at Susa).

Arcus Arcadii Honorii et Theodosii: a marble arch erected by the senate after the victory of Stilicho at Pollentia in 405 A.D. in honour of three emperors and to commemorate their victories over the Goths (CIL VI.1196; HJ 598). It stood at the west end of the Pons p34Neronianus (q.v.) and probably spanned its approach. In the Mirabilia (ch. 5) it is called arcus aureus Alexandri, and erroneously located near the church of S. Celso instead of S. Urso (HCh 501). It was standing in the fifteenth century, but had been stripped of its marble facing.a

Arcus Argentariorum: see Arcus Septimii Severi (in foro Boario).

(p35) Arcus Augusti: see separate page.

Arcus M. Aurelii: an arch erected in commemoration of the victory of Marcus Aurelius over the Germans and Sarmatians in 176 A.D., according to an inscription (CIL VI.1014) that was seen and copied by the compiler of the Einsiedeln Itinerary. This arch probably spanned the Clivus Argentarius (q.v.) at its junction with the via Lata, and is that referred to in a forged bull1 of John III (Jord. II.669) as arcus Argentariorum, and in the Mirabilia (ch. 5) as arcus Panis Aurei in Capitolio (PBS III.252‑253; Jord. I.2.214).

Arcus Aureus Alexandri: see Arcus Arcadii Honorii et Theodosii.

Arcus Iohannis Basilii or Basilidis: the mediaeval name of the arch of the aqua Claudia over the via Caelimontana, on the site of the ancient porta Caelimontana. It was also called the arcus Formae, and seems to have served as an entrance to the Lateran precinct. It was demolished in 1604 (HJ 242; LS IV.134; LA 366; LR 378; HCh 208 for S. Basilidis in Merulana, which has no relation to this arch, and ib. 462 for SS. Sergius and Bacchus iuxta arcum Basili).

Arcus Caelimontani: see Arcus Neroniani.

(p36) Arcus Claudii: see separate page.

(p37)
(p38)
Arcus Constantini: see separate page.

Arcus Divi Constantini: see Janus Quadrifrons.

Arcus Diocletiani: see Arcus Novus.

Arcus Dolabellae et Silani: on the Caelian, at the north corner of the site of the castra Peregrina, erected in 10 A.D. by the consuls P. Cornelius Dolabella and C. Iulius Silanus (CIL VI.1384). It is of travertine without ornamentation, and is usually supposed to have been built to support a branch of the aqua Marcia (not the rivus Herculaneus), and afterwards to have been used by Nero in his extension of the aqua Claudia, the arcus Neroniani (LA 312‑313; HJ 234). Corroborative evidence for this view is found in the similar construction and inscription of the Arcus Lentuli et Crispini (CIL VI.1385) at the foot of the Aventine (q.v.).

[image ALT: A small but massive circular stone arch over a narrow street, between a wall of small stone masonry on the left and a partly destroyed brick abutment on the right. It is the Arch of Dolabella in Rome.]

Arch of Dolabella: the SE face.

For a second photo, and the aqueduct crossing it, see the church of S. Tommaso in Formis.

Arcus Domitiani (1): according to Suetonius (Dom. 13) and Cassius Dio (LXVIII.1), Domitian erected arches in various parts of the city. The p39location of none of these is known to us unless a recent theory (PBS III.259‑262) be true that identifies the arch referred to by Martial (VIII.65) with the arcus manus Carneae of the Mirabilia (5) and Ordo Benedicti (ap. Jordan II.666). This arch was near the Piazza Venezia, and perhaps stood at the junction of the via Lata and the Vicus Pallacinae (q.v.), since Domitian's arches are usually represented on coins as quadrifrontal. See Fortuna Redux, templum.

Arcus Domitiani (2): * an arch, attributed to Domitian by Boni, has been recently discovered on the clivus Palatinus, not far below the state apartments of the domus Augustiana (CJ XV (1919‑20), 297; Boni in Illustrazione Italiana, 1918, I.373‑375). Nothing is preserved but the concrete foundations of the two piers (which were obviously wide enough to admit of lateral openings), the pavement of the road which passed through the central arch, and some architectural fragments; and it would be natural to suppose it to have been destroyed after his death (cf. Equus Domitiani). The character of the concrete, however, seems to point to an Augustan date (AJA 1923, 400; Mem. Am. Acad. V.120) and if this is so, the position of the arch, which blocks the entrance to what Hülsen believes to be the precinct of the temple of Apollo (supra, p18) may be used as evidence against his identification (cf.p168). It should also be noticed that the road through it is blocked by brick walls of the Domitianic period only a short distance to the south of it, so that it was clearly not built by Domitian.

Arcus Drusi: see separate page.

Arcus Drusi et Germanici: see separate page.

Arcus Fabiorum: see Fornix Fabiorum.

Arcus Gallieni: erected on the site of the Porta Esquilina (q.v.) in 262 A.D. by one M. Aurelius Victor (BC 1920, 170), and dedicated to the Emperor Gallienus (CIL VI.1106; ILS 548). It stands in the Via di S. Vito, close to the church of the same name. The existing single arch is of travertine, 8.80 metres high, 7.30 wide, and 3.50 deep. The piers which support it are 1.40 metres wide and 3.50 deep, and outside of them are two pilasters of the same depth, with Corinthian capitals. The entablature is 2 metres high with the dedicatory inscription on the architrave. Beneath the spring of the arch on each side is a simple cornice. A drawing (HJ 343) of the fifteenth century shows small side arches, but all traces of them have disappeared (PAS II.76; Sangallo, Barb. 25v.).

[image ALT: A few large stone blocks including on the left a schematic acanthus capital, and above it, continuing across and off the photo, an inscription reading 'GALLIENO CLEMENTISSIMO PR' and in a second smaller line, 'AVRELIVS'. It is a detail of the Arch of Gallienus, in Rome.]

Arch of Gallienus: the beginning of the dedicatory inscription on the W face. For an overall view, including a lot of scaffolding unfortunately, see my diary, 29 Jul 2000.

p40 Arcus Germanici: erected in honour of Germanicus in 19 A.D., if the statement of Tacitus (Ann. II.83) is correct.

Arcus Gordiani: see Castra Praetoria.

Arcus Gratiani Valentiniani et Theodosii: built between 379 and 383 A.D. by these three emperors (CIL VI.1184), as the monumental end of their Porticus Maximae (q.v.). It stood close to the pons Aelius, and probably spanned its southern approach. It was destroyed in the fourteenth century, but some traces of it were visible in the sixteenth (Eins. 2.2; 8.2 (per arcum); Mirab. 5; Ordo Ben. ap. Jord. II.665; HJ 598; BC 1893, 20; Lib. Cens. Fabre-Duchesne, II.154).

Arcus Hadriani: see Arco di Portogallo.

Arcus ad Isis: the name inscribed on the attic of the triple arch that is represented as standing on the each side of the Colosseum on the Haterii relief. This arch is decorated with Egyptian symbols, and a figure of Isis stands in the central doorway. It would be natural to locate this arch close to the Colosseum, but the inscription indicates clearly that it was named from its proximity to the temple of Isis (q.v.). It probably spanned the via Labicana near the temple (Heilbig, Führer3, No. 1193; Ann. d. Inst. 1849, 363‑410; Mon. d. Inst. V.7; Spano in Mem. Accad. di Napoli, XXIV.1906, 227 sqq.).

Arcus Julii: see my note below.

Arcus Latronis: see Basilica Constantini.

Arcus Lentuli et Crispini: * between the porta Trigemina and the statio Annonae, erected by Lentulus and Crispinus, the consuls in 2 A.D. (CIL VI.1385). This inscription is precisely like that (VI.1384) of the Arcus Dolabellae et Silani (q.v.) except for the names, and the two arches were probably built as part of Augustus' general plan of restoring and enlarging the aqueduct system. Whether this arch belonged to an extension of the Marcia or Appia is, however, uncertain. Flavius Blondus, who saw this arch destroyed about the middle of the fifteenth century (Roma Instaurata I.20), implies that it formed one of several (BC 1914, 112‑113; HJ XXI; LA 312‑313; RAP III.181‑183; Mitt. 1925, 337).
    Lanciani was led by the similarity of the inscriptions to attribute them to the same conduit, a branch of the Marcia: but if this were so, we should have an arch in the middle of the conduit constructed and accepted (probare is the word used) eight years later than an arch at the end. It seems better therefore to attribute this arch to the Appia, especially as this arch stood at its terminal point.

(p41) Arcus Neroniani: see separate page.

Arcus Neronis: erected between 58 and 62 A.D. by Nero to commemorate the victories of Corbulo over the Parthians (Tac. Ann. XIII.41; XV.18). It stood on the Capitoline hill inter duos lucos, and is represented on coins (Cohen, Nero 306‑310; BM Nero 183‑190, 329‑334) as a single arch surmounted with a quadriga in the centre and bronze figures at the ends. There are no later references to this arch, and it was probably destroyed soon after Nero's death (Baumeister, Denkmäler, p1873).

Arcus Novus (Diocletiani): * mentioned in the Regionary Catalogue in Region VII, and ascribed to Diocletian in the Chronograph of 354 A.D. (p148). This is probably the marble arch, adorned with trophies, which spanned the via Lata, close to the north-east corner of the present p42church of S. Maria in via Lata, and was destroyed by Innocent VIII (1488‑1492) (see LS I.88). The last remains disappeared in 1523 (LS I.217). The fragments of a relief found at this point in the sixteenth century, and now in the Villa Medici, probably came from this arch. The inscription — VOTIS X VOTIS XX (CIL VI.31383) — suggests that on the arch of Constantine. If this was the arch of Diocletian, and the inscription belongs to it, it was probably built in 303‑304 (BC 1895, 46; Jord. II.102, 417; HJ 469; PBS III.271; Matz-Duhn, Antike Bildwerke 3525).

Arcus Octavii: an arch on the Palatine which Augustus is said to have erected in honour of his father (Plin. NH XXXVI.36: Lysiae opus quod in Palatio super arcum divus Augustus honori Octavi patris sui dicavit in aedicula columnis adornata, id est quadriga currusque et Apollo ac Diana ex uno lapide). It has been conjectured (BC 1883, 190) that this arch formed the entrance to the sacred precinct of the temple of Apollo (q.v.), but this seems impossible of proof. Some fragments found in the middle of the sixteenth century may have belonged to this arch (Vacca, Mem. 76). The aedicula with a statue on top of the arch was without parallel in Rome, so far as we know (Gardthausen, Augustus und seine Zeit I.962; Richter 147; HJ 69; Jex-Blake and Sellers, The Elder Pliny's Chapters on the History of Art 208).

Arcus Panis Aurei (in Capitolio): see Arcus M. Aurelii.

Arcus Pietatis: * mentioned only in the Mirabilia (23) and the Anon. Magl. It stood on the north side of the Pantheon, perhaps in the line of the enclosing porticus. Hülsen (RAP II.19; cf. HCh 437) places it close to the church of the Maddalena, connecting it with the wall enclosing the precinct of the Templum Matidiae (q.v.). See RAP IV.291‑303 for the full statement of Hülsen's theory. He further points out that the name was used for various other arches in the Middle Ages — perhaps the Arcus ad Isis, and certainly the arch of Titus. Rushforth (JRS 1919, 37‑40, 53‑54) conjectures that it is the arch of Augustus described in the twelfth century by Magister Gregorius as bearing the inscription 'ob orbem devictum Romano regno restitutum et r. p. per Augustum receptam populus Romanus hoc opus condidit,' and mentioned by Dio Cassius (LI.19) as decreed to be set up in the forum in 29 B.C. (but not actually erected) and afterwards placed here. The inscription, though it cannot be a literal transcript, may be the echo of a genuine one (see Arcus Augusti). A relief on this arch is said (Anon. Magl.) to have represented a woman asking a favour of Trajan,2 and about this scene a legend was woven, one form of which appears in Dante (Purg. X.73 ff.).c This arch cannot be identified with any of those known to us from other sources (AJA 1904, 34; HJ 590; Boni in Nuova Antologia, 1st Nov. 1906, 36).

Arcus Pompeii: mentioned by Magister Gregorius in the twelfth century. Est enim arcus Triumphalis Magni Pompeii, ualde mirandus, quem p43habuit de uictoria quam obtinuit uicto Metridate (61 B.C.). Its sculptures represented his triumph with a long train of waggons laden with spoils. Rushforth (JRS 1919, 40, 54‑55) maintains that this arch had a real existence (cf. Petrarch, Ep. de reb. famil. VI.ii: hic Pompeii arcus, haec porticus, quoted also by Nibby, Roma Antica, II.616), but his opinion is not shared by Prof. Hülsen, who points out that the triumphal arch is a creation of the Augustan period (Festschrift für Hirschfeld, 428).

Arcus Recordationis: see Arco di Druso, Arcus Drusi.

(p44) Arcus Septimii Severi: see separate page.

Arcus Septimii Severi (in foro Boario), Arcus Argentariorum or Monumentum Argentariorum: see separate page.

(p45) Arcus Stillans: see separate page.

Arcus Tiberii: see separate page.

Arcus Tiburii or Diburi: mediaeval names of an arch near the site of the Porticus Divorum (q.v.) of Domitian, and perhaps forming its entrance (HJ 470, 567).

(p46)
(p47)
Arcus Titi: see separate page.

Arcus de Tosectis: the name given to a marble arch in the Anon. Magl., which may possibly be the Arcus Novus of Diocletian (q.v.) (HJ 470; Jord. II.416; AJA 1904, 34; PBS III.253, 269‑271).

Arcus ad Tres Fasciclas, Tripolis or Trofoli: mediaeval names of the Arco di Portogallo (Jord. II.416).

Arcus Traiani: see Forum Traiani.

Arcus Traiani: mentioned only in the Regionary Catalogue in Region I, and probably represented on a coin (Cohen, Traian 547) struck between 103 and 112 A.D. Here it has only a single passage way, but has projections on each side that are covered with sculpture. Above is the emperor in a six-horse chariot, with attendant figures. This arch may perhaps be that which is just inside the porta S. Sebastiano, known as the Arco di Druso (q.v.) (HJ 216).

Arcus Valentiniani: see Pons Aurelius.

Arcus Divi Veri: mentioned only in the Regionary Catalogue in Region I. It probably stood on the via Appia, but nothing else is known about it (see Arco di Druso). A relief in the Torlonia collection is attributed to this arch, or at any rate to some monument of Lucius Verus, which celebrated his Parthian triumphs; or else to the same series as the reliefs on the attic of the arch of Constantine (Reinach, Répertoire des Reliefs, I.249; MD III.3526; PBS IV.250; Mon. Piot XVII.227; SScR 253‑257).

Arcus Vespasiani et Titi: see Arcus Titi.


The Authors' Notes:

1 The description of the boundaries of the parish of SS. Apostoli, which the bull purports to give, is taken from a bull of Lucius III of 1183 (Kehr, Italia Pontificia I.72‑73).

2 Boni believes that the legend was inspired by a relief in the arch of Constantine — that showing the entry of Marcus Aurelius into Rome, with a recumbent figure representing a road.


Thayer's Notes:

a For additional details, see J. B. Bury, History of the Later Roman Empire, p168 (and especially his note).

b This is not an entry in Platner — he has none — nor have I been able to find such an arch in a quick search online or elsewhere; but Gibbon, discussing the causes of the ruin of the monuments of Rome, in the very last chapter of his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, finds mention of one in an anonymous source (Chapter LXXI, Part IV: in my print edition note 41, or note 40 in this online transcription); it certainly seems plausible enough.

That said, after that first paragraph of this note had been online for several years, I received the following kind note from Matthias Mindach, only slightly paraphrased and abridged by me:

Gibbon cites Montfaucon, who in turn cites the anonymous writer, a medieval text (turris Centii Frangipanis). It seems certain that this text is one of the many copies of the Mirabilia Urbis Romae or a dependent MS., since the Mirabilia has: "arcus Iulii Cesaris et senatorum inter edem Concordie et templum Fatale": the Arch of Septimius Severus is obviously meant — or at least thus, in 1838 already, E. Z. Platner (Beschreibung der Stadt Rom, Bd. 3, 2. Abt., p127).

c See Gaston Paris, La Légende de Trajan, pp291‑295, who follows Comparetti, however, in siting the arch in Trajan's Forum, and argues against De Rossi 's placement followed by Platner.


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