Hi, I'm Lizzy and today I am in front of the imposing structure of the Arch of Trajan in Benevento, over 15 meters high and about 9 meters wide, made up of blocks of stone and Parian marble; the monument has only one archway being in fact provided with a single arched opening.
What has left me speechless is the rich sculptural decoration on the two sides: on the side facing the city the scenes refer to the peace and the provisions towards the citizens and the city of Rome; on the side facing the countryside the scenes refer to the provisions towards the provinces.
The telematic University Giustino Fortunato, which has promoted this audio guide at the end of a detailed research project and the third Mission on Trajan and the Arch, is pleased to let you have this experience. The panels recount images and narrate the life and deeds of Trajan whose arch was dedicated.
Traiano responds to the ideal of the Optimus Princeps as it was seen by the Beneventan ruling class and therefore the Arch is an exaltation of Trajan and his work of conquest and peace, with particular attention to the city of Benevento. On the attic, which protrudes above the archway, we read this inscription:
"To the émperor Caesar Son of the Divo Nerva, to Nerva Traiano, to the Earliest Augustus, Germanicus, Dacianus, to the Supreme Pontiff, in the eighteenth year of the Tribunial Power, in the seventh as Emperor, in the sixth as Consul, to the Father of the Fatherland, to the Fortissimo Principe, the Senate and the Roman People "(they have dedicated).
The title of Optimus was attributed to Trajan in the autumn of 114 after Christ. The construction of the arch was carried out over a five-year period. Contributed to the construction of the arch a rich character of Benevento origin, which some identify in Marco Rutilio Lupo, who despite living in Rome maintained close relations with the city of origin:
a few decades earlier, from his own pocket, he had embellished the temple of Isis by offering two obelisks, on which he had the inscriptions dedicated to the goddess made. It is supposed that behind the attentions that Trajan addressed to Benevento there was just Rutilio Lupo, since the emperor without the suggestion of an influential personality would hardly have given her such regard.
On both sides the façades are composed of 6 main panels placed vertically, divided by a continuous frieze that represents the transport of the Dacian treasure to Rome, and other minor squares. Furthermore, two large panels are placed on the inner sides of the archway.
Let's now see in sequence, from the bottom to the top and with right left hand side, the scenes on the facade that turns to the city:
Trajan's arrival in Rome: Trajan enters victorious in Rome, at the beginning of the summer of 99. Before a port of the city the praefectus urbi invites Trajan, accompanied by his entourage, to enter.
Triumph of Trajan in Rome: in front of an exastyle building, perhaps the temple of Vespasian, Trajan is welcomed by the Genius of the Roman People and by representatives of the Senate and the Equestrian Order. (The two lower panels are connected).
Provisions in favor of trade: against the background of the panel we see Portunus, Ercole and Apollo, the deities venerated in the Forum Boario, while Traiano, escorted by the lictors, receives three thanks from the merchants for the aid received.
Assignment of the lands to the veterans of the Rhine and the Danube: a matron with a turreted crown, holding with her left hand a banner surmounted by five eagles, recommends to Trajan two legionnaires on leave.
The entrance of Trajan to the temple of the God Mars: in the Marzio camp, in front of the temple of the god, Trajan, followed by the lictors, receives from the two consuls the decree granting the triumph. The scene takes place in the presence of the goddess Roma who places a hand on the shoulder of Hadrian, the future emperor.
The Gods of the temple await Trajan: in the foreground there is the Capitoline triad, with Jupiter who gives lightning to Trajan electing his representative on earth. In the background other deities of the Roman religion. On the outside, which turns to the countryside and to via San Pasquale, which follows the ancient Via Traiana, from right to left we distinguish:
Trajan visits a military camp: Trajan, followed by his officers and escorted by the lictors, meets with a signifer or with Ercole according to another interpretation. The scene is attended by other characters bearing a horse by the bridle and a large dog (Canis Pugnax). The panel could refer to the consolidation of the possession of the Danube regions.
Pacification of Germany: in the presence of Jupiter Feretrio, who is at the center of the scene, Traiano accompanied by his entourage stipulates the peace pact with a leader of the Germans.
Exaltation of the Food Institute: Trajan, accompanied by the lictors and flanked by the personifications of two Virtues, is in the presence of Mars and the goddess Rome. At their feet two children, to whom a plow is approached, rise from the fertile earth as a symbol of the Trajan's provision in continuation of the work of Nerva.
Trajan rearranges the army in the provinces: To the emperor, surrounded by the lictors, the god Honos introduces a recruit to whose side is the officer in charge of the lever. On the right is the plausible personification of Rome with the turreted diadem.
Dacian submission: Trajan receives the homage of a kneeling province, Dacia. This, at the moment in which she performs the act of submission, is recommended to Trajan by one of his fellow lawyer and friend.
Diana, Ceres, Dionysus and Silvanus, deities linked to nature; unfortunately this last panel is mutilated and we do not know what it represented in its entirety. On the plumes of the fornix are depicted the personifications of the Danube and of the Mesopotamia (external side), and of the personifications of Victory and military Fidelity (city side); below them are the four-season genes. On the keys of the arch are depicted the personification of Fortune and the goddess Roma. On both sides of the arch the 4 lower panels are separated by smaller decorative panels depicting Victories tauroctone (ie in the act of sacrificing bulls), and surmounted by other small decorative panels with heralds on the sides of a candlestick.
Panels inside the archway Implementation of the Institutio Alimentaria: on the right side inside the arch, looking at the arch from the side that turns to the city, you can admire a large panel that represents the donation of "food" to the less well-off families, among identified as young children. The scene takes place in the presence of Trajan, whose image, unfortunately partly missing, is distinguished on the left of the representation, while in the center there is a matron with the crowned head to lead back to the personification of the ancient Benevento.
Inauguration of the Via Traiana: on the left side inside the arch (city side) there is another large panel with the representation of Trajan in priestly robes that, flanked by two camilli, witnesses the sacrifice of a bull for the consecration of the Via Traiana. At the center of the scene are the Genius of the Senate and other togaed and crowned laurel figures participating in the ceremony.
The vault of the porch is entirely carved coffered and has as its fulcrum a frame with Trajan crowned by Vittoria.