The Roman emperor Titus ran havoc in Jerusalem in the First Jewish-Roman War, when not only resident Jews but also a lot of pilgrims from Egypt and Babylon were trapped in a chaotic siege (Flavius Josephus). Even to this day, this day is mourned by Jews.

To commemorate the Emperor Titus's victories - most notably the Siege of Jerusalem, the Arch of Titus was constructed by his brother.

How come this standing monument to such a brutal massacre is not declared "Anti-Semitic"?

(Yes, I know it has been used for other memories too - but still the major one is of Jerusalem's beseiging, and it's still named after Titus.)

  • For roughly the same reason Trajan's column is not considered anti-Dacian or anti-Romanian.
    – Lucian
    Commented Aug 13, 2021 at 10:54

3 Answers 3


Probably because, unlike many other acts in the ancient eastern Mediterranean (perhaps dating back to the antisemitic attitudes expressed by Manetho in the 3rd century BC), the motivation behind the First Jewish War wasn't antisemitic.

The actions of Titus First Jewish–Roman War, and those of his father, Vespasian, before him, were aimed at putting down a rebellion in the Roman province of Judea. The fact that those in revolt in Judea were Jewish was not a factor.

  • 1
    "The fact that those in revolt in Judea were Jewish was not a factor." - While the underlying idea is correct (the revolts and subsequent war were about taxes rather than targeted religious hatred), phrasing it the way you did is a bit of a stretch. Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 13:10
  • 1
    Probably like I suggested in my prior comment: the revolts and subsequent war were about taxes rather than targeted religious hatred. It might also be worth digging into a) why they were resisting taxes, and b) whether non-Jews in the area were doing so as well. I'd hypothesize a) because religion, and b) no (except affiliated groups like Christians), but I'd need to verify. Point being, there was a religious twist to the conflict. But the Roman reaction wasn't about hating Jews; rather, it was a down-to-earth government crackdown on a (religious) group that was engaged in tax resistance. Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 13:21
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    @DenisdeBernardy If I remember correctly, there were religious tensions between Greeks & Jewish groups. These escalated into protests over taxation & attacks upon Roman citizens. That led to full revolt (and the loss of a Roman legion). Then Vespasian was ordered to suppress the rebellion ... I'm not aware of any pre-existing religious tensions with Rome per se. However, feel free to edit my answer if you feel strongly about it. Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 13:32
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    @DenisdeBernardy You might not be familiar with the parody history of the UK "1066 and all that". One memorable (and relevant) quote on the section covering the many 19th century colonial wars was: "The Zulu Wars. Cause: the Zulus. Zulus exterminated. End of Zulu Wars." The fact that they were Zulus and not some other "rebellious bunch of trouble-makers" was merely happenstance. So far as other nations were concerned, the Jews were often a "rebellious bunch of trouble-makers" - whether or not the root cause was religion was fairly irrelevant, since Judaism didn't proselytize.
    – alephzero
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 17:28
  • 6
    @Denis de Bernardy: That the Judeans revolted may have been in part because they were Jewish, but the Roman response to the revolt was no different than their responses to other enemine. See e.g. Carthage, Spartacus, &c.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 17:55

One cannot look at history with the morality of today. Antisemitism as we know it today did not exist back then.


Would a monument commemorating the US victory in the Civil War be considered an example of antisouthernism?

Would a monument commemorating the US victory in the Great Sioux War of 1876-1877 be considered an example of antisiouxism?

Would a monument commemorating Cortez's victories be considered an example of antiaztecism?

Would a monument commemorating V-E Day in 1945 be considered an example of antigermanism?

If not, what makes the Jews so special that a monument to military victory over a group of Jews is considered an example of racial prejudice and antisemitism?

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