Arch of Augustus (Susa)

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Arch of Augustus.

The Arch of Augustus is an important monument found in the city of Susa, Piedmont in the province of Turin. It was probably originally built at the end of the 1st century BC to record the peace between Emperor Augustus and Marcus Julius Cottius, king of the Cottian Alps. The arch, together with other remains from the period, such as the Roman amphitheatre, underline the importance that the city of Susa had during the Roman period.

Description[edit]

From above, the arch forms a rectangle 11.93 metres long and 7.3 metres wide. Constructed with white marble from Foresto, it rests on two large bases. There is only one archway.

The arch has a unique arcade, in which the archivolt is supported by pilasters. The entablature rests on four Corinthian columns placed at the extremities of each corner, such that a quarter of each drum is embedded in the monument.

The lowest architrave is composed of three bands of which the lowest band is thicker than the middle band, and this in turn is thicker than the top band. Above the architrave, a frieze composed of a bass relief stretches around all four sides. Above that is the cornice which has twenty-two corbels on each face and twelve on each side of the arch. The corbels' panels are decorated with roses. On tob of that rests the attic, which displays an inscription on both faces.

The Dedicatory Inscription[edit]

The following dedication is recorded on the attic:

IMP · CAESARI · AVGVSTO · DIVI · F · PONTIFICI · MAXVMO · TRIBVNIC · POTESTATE · XV · IMP · XIII · M · IVLIVS · REGIS · DONNI · F · COTTIVS · PRAEFECTVS · CEIVITATIVM · QVAE · SVBSCRIPTAE · SVNT · SEGOVIORVM · SEGVSINORVM · BELACORVM · CATVRIGVM · MEDVLLORVM · TEBAVIORVM · ADANATIVM · SAVINCATIVM · ECDINIORVM · VEAMINIORVM · VENISAMORVM · IEMERIORUM · VESVBIANIORVM · QVADIATIVM · ET · CEIVITATES · QVAE · SVB · EO · PRAEFECTO · FVERVNT

CIL V 7231

Marcus Julius Cottius, son of King Donnus, leader of the communities which follow: the Segovii, Segusini, Belaci, Caturiges, Medulli, Tebavii, Adanates, Savincates, Ecdinii, Veaminii, Venisamores, Iemerii, Vesubianii, and Quadiates, and the [aforementioned]communities who were under this leader [dedicated this arch] to Imperator Caesar Augustus son of a god, Pontifex Maximus, awarded tribunician power 15 times and acclaimed Imperator 13 times.

The Frieze[edit]

The frieze represents the sacrifice of the suovetaurilia, a sacrifice in which the victims were a pig (sus), a sheep (ovis) and a bull (taurus) with the animals intended for sacrifice of exceptional size, clearly much large than the men leading them to sacrifice. The scene has a great number of symbolic meanings, but above all indicates that the sacrifice is the focus and nothing else. The man performing the sacrifice is perhaps to be identified with Cottius. On the western side some representatives of the Cottian communities mentioned in the inscription are depicted. On the southern side a second sacrifice, officiated by Cottius, is depicted. On the eastern side the scene has been completely destroyed by the ravages of time.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Michele Ruggiero, Storia della Valle di Susa- Alzani ed

Coordinates: 45°8′9.8″N 7°2′34.6″E / 45.136056°N 7.042944°E / 45.136056; 7.042944