A local newspaper, "Tevere," has revived a legend which has found credence not only in the Middle Ages, but also until recently in Italy, and particularly in Rome. This is the legend that the Menorah, or candlestick, of the Second Jewish Temple, which was brought by the conquered Jews to Rome after the destruction of the Temple, lies buried at the bottom of the Tiber River here.
According to reports of ancient Roman historians and according to the inscription upon the Titus Arch itself, there seems no doubt that during the triumphal march of Titus into Rome after his destruction of Jerusalem, the many captive Jews who filed past the Roman populace carried among other spoils of war the Menorah of the Temple, the Menorah which is reproduced upon the Titus Arch.
MENORAH WAS GUARDED
The Menorah, like all the other spoils of war, was for a long time guarded in the Temple of the Goddess of Peace. Later, however, it went through many remarkable adventures. One legend has it that after the occupation and plunder of Rome by the barbaric king Genserich, the Menorah, together with other articles was brought to Jerusalem and returned to the Jews there- Others, on the contrary, state that during its transfer from Rome to Jerusalem a violent storm raged on the Mediterranean, and the Menorah, together with all of Genserich’s war spoils, was swallowed up by the waves.
Another legend, probably of Jewish origin, sprung up in the Middle Ages and claimed that the candelabras were stolen by the Roman Jews themselves from the Temple of the Goddess of Peace, and buried in the bottom of the Tiber River, with the intention that the Menorah should not again fall into Roman hands and with the hope of being able to recover it themselves some day.
This legend, which was for a long time forgotten, was revived under Pope Benedict XIV during the first half of the eighteenth century, and the Roman Jewish community decided to ask permission of the Papal Court to make excavations in the Tiber. The Jewish community declared itself ready to bear the costs of such excavations, on condition that everything that was dug up should remain in the possession of the Jewish community. The Papal government, however, rejected the offer, declaring that the slime which would be brought up from the bottom of the Tiber as a result of these excavations would be injurious to public health.
The matter seemed to be buried forever, when at the beginning of the nineteenth century the idea of excavation was again brought up. In 1818 there was even established a company for this purpose and in 1830 the working plan was perfected. But again nothing came of it and the members of the firm lost their money.
In 1855 the idea was again taken up by one Annibale Nuvoli, who, in a brochure which he published, tried to popularize the idea of excavating for the Menorah. But again the work was unsuccessful.
Will the revival of the Menorah legend today stir enterprising capitalists to undertake the work of excavation?