The Arch of the Sergii Pula

One of the most valued monuments of classic Roman art is also one of the most beautiful ancient monuments in Pula. The Arch of the Sergii is one of the few private monuments, which was erected by Salvia Postuma from the Sergii family in honor of the three male members of her family. In any case, Salvia Postuma from the Sergii family (she was actually married into that family), had the monument built with her own funds. Her name is mention in two places. Between the left and central inscription, there is her name: SALVIA POSTUMA SERGI, which is Salvia Postuma, the wife of Sergi.

 

 

The Arch of the Sergii Pula

The other is above the arch on the central place: SALVIA POSTUMA SERGI DE SUA PECUNIA, which means Salvia Postuma, wife of Sergi, with her own money (did). It was very important for her to emphasize that the monument was built with her funds. Simple arch opening is decorated from the western city side, with elements typical for late Hellenic artistic style, which was very popular during the time of late Republic, and the ruling of Augustus. The relief shows allegoric characters of winged Victories (goddesses of victory), fight between an eagle and a snake (the enemy of Rome), and complete frieze with military equipment. It is certain that the monument is devoted to Lucius Sergius Lepidus, son of Lucius, who is mention on the central point of this memorial structure as the tribune of the XXIX Legion.
 
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The Arch of the Sergii Pula

The text of this inscription is as following: L(ucius) SERGIUS L(uci) F(ilius) LEPIDUS AED(ilis) TR(ibunus) MIL(ilitaris) LEG(ionis) XXIX. The translation is: Lucius Sergius Lepidus, son of Lucius, aedilis, and military tribune of the XXIX Legion. On the top of the Arch, there were the statues of Lucius Sergius, the father of Lepidus and Gnaeus Sergius, Lepidus’ uncle. On the left side stands the inscription L(ucius) SERGIUS C(ai) F(ilius) AED(ilis) IIVIR (duumvir), which means that Lucius Sergius, son of Gaius, was aedilis and duumvir, which were two most important functions of the local government of the colony. It is believed that the monument was built in the time of Augustus, in the end of 1st century BC, and beginning of the 1st century AD. Excavations and research on the forum around the Arch in the time between 1994-1996 have shown that building of this monument had an impact on the town’s gate, which were rebuilt with three passages, two on the side for pedestrians and one central for traffic. On the attic of the monument, above the inscription, there are still holes in stone which were the base for the sculptures of the aforementioned Sergii. The structural elements of the Arch show remarkable sense for proportion, because the relation between the width and height of the whole structure is perfectly perceived and implemented.

Two “pillars” of the Arch are on huge and simple pylons, which are completely without decoration. From the pedestal on each side there are two channeled half-pillars which determine the width of each holder of the central arch. On top, they end with Corinthian half-capitals, and two rows of acanthus leaves with cornered volutes. The western facade of the Arch is much more decorated, because it was the only part visible upon exiting the town. The eastern facade was blocked by the city gates, and today it still seems that it was incomplete.

Late Hellenistic tradition was very strong in the Roman art in the time of Augustus. At the time, Pula was probably a true cosmopolitan city, which had many visitors due to its location on the eastern shore of the Adriatic.

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The Arch of the Sergii, Pula

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44.868311, 13.846933

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