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Rome: Arch of Drusus


Coin, commemorating Drusus' victories. struck by his son Claudius. Museum Valkhof, Nijmegen (Holland). Photo Marco Prins.
Coin, commemorating Drusus' victories in Germania. struck by his son Claudius (Museum Valkhof, Nijmegen).
Arch of Drusus: name of a monument on the Via Appia.

Born 38 BCE, very soon after his mother Livia had divorced Tiberius Claudius Nero and married Octavian (the future emperor Augustus), the Roman prince Drusus was widely believed to be the latter's son. Octavian adopted his stepson when the boy was six years old and gave him an excellent education. In 15 BCE, the young man  commanded an army against the Raetians, which were defeated. After 12, he was responsible for the Roman conquest of Germania, conquered the valleys of the rivers Main and Lippe, crossed the Lippe, and reached the river Elbe. In the winter of 11/10, he celebrated a minor triumph (an ovatio). In 9, he died after a fall from his horse. He was twenty-nine years old.

Ancient-Warfare.com, the online home of Ancient Warfare magazine
Arch of Drusus from the north. Photo Jona Lendering
Arch of Drusus from the south. Photo Jona Lendering
Arch of Drusus from the north
Arch of Drusus from the south

The monument now known as Arch of Drusus has nothing to do with the conqueror of Germania. In fact, it was built more than two centuries after his death at the point where the Aqua Antoniana aqueduct, which supplied the Baths of Caracalla, crossed the Via Appia. As was usual, the arch on which the water was carried across the road, was decorated (cf. the Porta Maggiore).

The remains of the real Arch of Drusus, which was erected by the Senate (Suetonius, Claudius, 1.3), may have been found near this part of the aqueduct, which is close to the Porta Sebastiano. A coin that commemorates Drusus' victories in Germania. struck by his son Claudius, shows the real monument. On top of the arch is a statue of Drusus on horseback, flanked by two trophies and sitting captives.

A satellite photo can be found here.

Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2003
Revision: 11 Jan. 2012
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