Ancient Rome Roman Forum

Arch of Septimius Severus

Arch of Septimius Severus

In 203 AD the Senate erected a great arch to commemorate the victories of Septimius Severus against the Parthians, a people of Asia Minor. This triple-vaulted monument was erected just where the Via Sacra begins to climb toward the Capitol, the culminating point of triumphal processions awarded to victorious generals. The arch is wholly sheathed in marble and an image on a coin shows it was originally surmounted by bronze sculptures: a chariot drawn by six horses flanked with equestrian statues symbolising the triumph decreed to the emperor.

Arch of Septimius Severus at the Roman Forum, Rome, Italy

Arch of Septimius Severus at the Roman Forum, Rome, Italy

The arch is about 20 met. high, 25 met.wide and over 11 meters deep and has three passageways, a large one in the center and two smaller ones at the sides with short flights of steps leading up to them.

In the carvings on the arch the same theme is expressed in the small frieze above the two lesser vaults. This shows carts filled with booty, soldiers, prisoners, and the great statue of a seated figure that personifies the conquered province.

Arch of Septimius Severus (203 AD) and the ruins of the Roman Forum

Arch of Septimius Severus (203 AD) and the ruins of the Roman Forum

The Triumphal Arch of Septimus Severus located in Roman Forum in Rome, Italy

The Triumphal Arch of Septimus Severus located in Roman Forum in Rome, Italy

Detail of the arch of Septimius Severus

Detail of the arch of Septimius Severus, located in the roman Forum. Rome, Italy.

Arch of Septimius Severus: Inscription

To the Imperator Caesar Lucius Septimius, son of Marcus, Severus Pius Pertinax Augustus(Septimius Severus), father of his country, conqueror of the Parthians in Arabia and Assyria, Pontifex Maximus, with Tribunician powers 11 times, triumphing general 11 times, consul 3 times, and proconsul; and to the Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius, son of Lucius, Antoninus Augustus Pius Felix (Caracalla) with tribunician powers 6 times, consul, proconsul, father of the fatherland, the best and braves of princes, on account of the republic restored and the empire of the Roman people increased by their outstanding virtues at home and abroad, the Senate and the Roman people dedicate this arch.

On the attic is carved the dedication: in the fourth line the name of Septimius Severus’s younger son Geta was effaced by order of his brother Caracalla, who had him put to death and decreed the “condemnation of his memory” (damnatio memoriae). In the Middle Ages, the arch became part of a castle, which has most likely contributed to it still being so unspoiled. The Arch of Septimius Severus from 203 AD, is the last triumphal arch that was constructed on the Roman Forum.

Inscription Details, Arch of Septimius Severus

The inscription at the top of the arch was very first committed to Septimius and his sons Caracalla and Geta, however after Caracalla killed Geta following his father’s death, Geta’s name was removed. This can still be seen today by the pin holes of the copper letters that hint to the name Getanog.

Arch of Septimius Severus – Photo Gallery: 

Featured Image of this post: The Column of Phocas and the Arch of Septimius Severus in the Roman Forum, Rome, Italy; color photochrom ca 1890’s.

Tickets & Tours for your Rome Trip:

Distance to the Colosseum

Arch of Septimius Severus set in the center of Roman Forum, 1,0 km from (11 min walk) from Colosseum.