Thursday, July 9, 2009

Roman Arches

Inside the Roman Forum there is the marble Arch of Titus, which was constructed to commemorate the Roman defeat of the Jews in the Jewish War or Great Revolt. It began in A.D. 66 and stemmed from the Jews' monotheistic beliefs not meshing with the Romans' paganism (that... and taxation). The Arch of Titus contains scenes of the Roman siege of Jerusalem (see below). One particularly striking image is of soldiers carrying a Menorah from the destroyed Second Temple.

Meanwhile, right outside the Coliseum sits the Arch of Constantine, which marks the victory of Emperor Constantine over his rival Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in A.D. 312. Before Constantine took control, Christianity was persecuted; after, there was a preference for it. As Rick Steves says in his book, "If you are a Christian, were raised a Christian, or simply belong to a so-called Christian nation," Constantine's preference has had an impact on you. (After all, when you rule an empire like this, you hold some sway.)

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