(correction) This is the Arch of Constantine. Wikipedia says, “It was erected by the Roman Senate to commemorate Constantine I’s victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312.” This was the arch closer to the Colosseum, making this photo more dramatic. But, what I wanted to talk about was the Arch of Titus. Photo tomorrow, in case you don’t see this correction!
The Arch of Titus was built in 81 AD and its face is covered with reliefs depicting the spoils of Jerusalem and the Temple, conquered after the fall of Masada.
The Colosseum was built in 70 AD and is the largest amphitheater ever built, constructed of concrete and sand. It hosted events ranging from gladiator fights to executions to mock-battles.
These facts are simultaneously amazing and distressing. The structures are huge and sit there in the middle of Rome, begging us to both wonder and despair. They are monuments to architectural but also military might, to greatness and to the evils of warfare and conquest, and the guides speak with a mixture of satisfaction and complacency that I found disturbing.
I show them to you with great awareness of my own cognitive dissonance. How can we learn? How can we do better? How can we do kinder?