Emperor Titus: The Man Who Destroyed the Temple
In Rome, Titus may be known for many things; but in Jerusalem, he will ever be known as the emperor who laid waste to the Second Temple and the Holy City. The Arch of Titus stands today among the ruins of ancient Rome for all to see: the relief on the arch depicts Jews being marched into slavery and exile. Captured with them are the treasures of the Holy Temple, which was razed to the ground. These ancient images tell the story of the Emperor Titus’ conquest and destruction of Jerusalem—a story of exile and loss of a homeland, with echoes that reverberate even to this day.
The oldest son of the Emperor Vespasian, Titus was the second to reign in the Flavian dynasty. But before he became emperor, Titus was an acclaimed war leader of Rome, who was charged by the reigning emperor with the task of ending the Jews’ rebellion against Roman rule. When Titus conquered and destroyed Jerusalem, he was putting an end to many decades of rebellion that had erupted long before his time.
Destruction of the Second Temple
There is controversy as to whether Titus intended to destroy the Temple. Josephus claims that the destruction of the Temple of was initiated when a Roman soldier threw a torch inside its walls, kindling a blaze. Other historical sources believe that Titus had intended all along to destroy the Temple.
Titus was crowned emperor of Rome in 79 A.D., less than a decade after his triumph in Jerusalem. Among his achievements as emperor was the completion of the famous Colosseum, which some historians believe was built by Jewish slaves.