photo tour museums exhibitions night life guides curiosity
Exhibitions in Rome
useful services
  useful services

Imp Caes Lucio Septimio M fil Severo Pio Pertinaci Aug Patri Patriae Parthico Arabico et
Parthico Adiabenico Pontific Maximo Tribunic Potest XI Imp XI cos III procos et
Imp Caes M Aurelio L fil Antonino Aug Pio Felici Tribunic Potest VI Cos Procos P P
optimis fortissimisque prinicipibus
ob rem publicam restitutam imperiumque populi romani propogatum
insignibus virtutibus eorum domi forisque S P Q R


Costantino's  Triumphal Arch, Rome Italy

Settimio Severo was the first of Severi's dinasty that would have not left a great sign on the Rome's destiny. Settimo Severo was in fact a general who bought the throne after the death of Commodo, Marco Aurelio's son, happened in 192 A.D.After Commodo's murder both population and Senatus wanted an upright person who was found in Pertinace. The choice was right at the point that pretoriani (imperial guard created by Augusto) killed him after just 83 days of good government and put up for auction the title. Didio Giuliano, a rich banker, won offering 6250 dracme to any pretoriano. Senatus strongly opposed to this auction and called general Settimio Severo who came with his legions to restore the order. The guards offered the Didio's head and Pertinace's murderers to Settimio who pretended to accept but later cancelled the imperial guard ordering to any of them to live at least 100 km far from Rome.
He was born in Leptis Magna in Africa and made his cursus honorum in many provinces of the empire (Sardegna, Spain, Gallia and Syria where met his second wife Giulia Domna, a beautiful and unscrupulous women who gave him 2 sons, Caracalla and Geta). After his election, some eastern provinces sided with Pescennio Nigro so that Severo immediately had to fight for the power just received. Two battles fought close to Nicea gave to Severo a good advantage and after 1 year he finally won and acted his revenge against all the populations that gave support to Porscennio: Parthian above all and Osroenian. Bisanzio resisted three years to the siege. Severo spent then some years in Britannia where governor Clodio Albino declared himself Augusto and marched toward Rome. Severo went to Gallia where the battle took place in Saˇne valley the 19th of February 197 A.D. and won after a long resistence by Albino, who killed himself with his sword. Severo cut his head and sent it to the Senatus that after all always supported Albino. Later in Rome processed more than 60 senators and executed 29 of them, restored Commodo's cult and put to death his murderer. This was Settimio Severo, first emperor of Severi's dinasty. In the same time Vologese IV, Parthian's king, had invaded Mesopotamia obliging Severo to one more trip in eastern province. This time the battle was easily won by Severo who occupied again Mesopotamia and plundered the capital of Parthian. Coming back to Rome this soldier decided to besiege Atra for 20 days but its inhabitants resisted and obliged Severo to give up.
Settimio Severo's Arch was erected 4 years later in the Roman Forum to commemorate the war against and the Parthian, Osroeni and the first 10 years of his empire dedicated entirely to fight with Senatus, governor Albino, Parthian and to give always more money and power to his soldiers. Severo was so convinced that having the army on his side he would have never had nothing to be afraid that suggested to his 2 sons this rule when in 211 A.D. died in Britannia where he went to fight his last battle. Caracalla, whose real name was Bassiano Antonino, ordered to kill his brother Geta and more than 20.000 Romans suspected to be on his brother's side, went on with the policy of paying the soldiers always more and reduced the power of Senatus. Nowadays it's still possible to see on the inscription on the upper part of the arch the holes of the bronze letters where Severo remembered his son Geta, later cancelled by Caracalla (the fifth line was changed. once it read: P. Septimio L. fil Getae nobilissi(mo) meaning "to the most noble Geta, son of Lucius Septimius, Publius Septimius). Caracalla linked his name to the erection of huge thermal baths still visible today but surely he was not an intelligent emperor loving more the games at Coliseum of which he was not just witness. Many people think that good things he made during his empire have to be given to his intelligent mother Giulia Domna. Caracalla later went to Renia, Egypt, Parthia demonstrating to be fascinated by Alessandro Magno's mith and behaving in the style of Achille; he continually started new wars till the day he was murdered by his guards in april 217 A.D.

"THE ARCH and its bas-reliefs"

Upper Part of the Arch
Bas-relief on the arch
Settimio Severo's Arch

Severo's Arch stands in the middle of the Via Sacra that crosses the Roman Forum leading to the Capitolium Hill. It's well preserved even if in medieval times it was used as barber's shop. The bas-reliefs placed above lateral arches show scenes from the wars in Parthia. They have to be read starting on the left side towards the Forum Romanum and moving rightward around the arch. Each bas-relief are read from the bottom to the up and divided in two or three scenes.
First panel, not well kept, shows the preparations for war; the middle battle scenes between Romans and Parthians; and the emperor, on the left, talking to the soldiers and the liberation of a besieged city with the flight of Vologese IV, Parthian's king;
Second panel shows scenes from the war against the Osroeni: the lower shows the Roman army attacking Edessa with war machines; the middle register shows Septimius Severus talking to the troops, and the surrender of king Osroenian Abgar to the emperor; the upper register shows the emperor in charge of operations and a war council in a fortified camp.
Third panel (to the left on the Capitol side) has two registers. The lower shows the attack on the city of Seleucia on the River Tigris, with the Parthians fleeing on horseback towards the right; and above the Parthians surrendering to the emperor and his entry into Seleucia.
Fourth panel shows, in two registers, a besieged Ctesiphon, Parthians' capital, with war machines, and the flight of the defeated enemy king; above is represented Severo speaking to the victorious armies in front of the conquered city.


All Rights Reserved
via Murri 31/7, Mestre Venice
Hosted by In Venice Today