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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Flavian Triumph and the Arch of Titus: The Jewish God in Flavian Rome


In 70 CE the Roman forces besieging Jerusalem gained control of the city and destroyed the Jewish temple. The emperor Vespasian (r. 69 CE – 79 CE) and his son Titus (r. 79 CE – 81 CE), who served as general at the siege, were awarded a joint triumph to celebrate the victory over the Jews in Judaea. Celebrated in 71 CE, the Flavian triumph is described by the Jewish historian, Josephus (37 CE – c. 100 CE), who may have been an eye witness to the procession. This same triumphal procession is depicted on a monument known as the Arch of Titus, located on the Via Sacra in Rome. It was probably dedicated around 81, early in the reign of Domitian (r. 81 CE – 96 CE), brother and heir to Titus. In this paper I investigate the ways that ritual and monument bring the Jewish god from the edge of the empire into the imperial capital, and how ritual and monument construct a Flavian dynastic identity.

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