Roman Forum: Political Centre

The political centre is North-West of the Roman  Forum

View from the Palatine and an aerial view with the remnants       Panoramic       East

Roman Forum
photos: Sarah Bell, panoramic Bert Kaufmann and east Darren Flinders

Close to the Vulcanal was the oldest place where the chieftains of the Sabines and the Romans gathered: the comitium. Later on the Curia was constructed. The Curia bordered the comitium and was probably commissioned by the third Etruscan king, Tullus Hostilius. The building was the meeting hall for the Senate, where all the major decisions during the Roman Republic were made. The Curia of Hostilius, the first and oldest burned down in 54 BC., under Julius Caesar’s reign a new one was built, aptly named the Curia Julius. The Curia that still stands there today, hails from the era of emperor Diocletian (284-305 AD.), the original doors now ornament the main entrance of the San Giovanni in Laterano. Wonderful reconstructions and a video of the Curia during Caesar’s reign can be seen here at Le Plan de Rome.

Facade Curia Julia     Reconstruction facade     Wikipedia

Facade Curia Julia Rome
photo facade: Jenssens

Interior of the Senate and a reconstruction    Detail    Reconstruction

Interior Curia Julia Rome
photo detail: Radomil

The Rostra and side      Top view      Reconstruction drawing

Roman Forum: Rostra Rome
photos: AncientDigitalMaps and side Sebastià Giralt top view: CC BY-SA 3.0

The rostra was originally above the comitium. The rostra was a platform on which orators addressed the mass, especially during the senate elections. From 338 BC., the rostra was decorated with the naval rams (rostra) of the ships conquered by the Romans during the Antium battle. The Greek historian Plutarchus described how the orators addressed the mass from the comitium along with the macabre tradition to put heads on display. (Click here to read more about Plutarchus at Wikipedia).

“When they addressed the people, Tiberius Gracchus stood firmly at one spot, but Gaius was the first Roman to walk back and forth on the orator’s stage and discard the toga from his shoulder whilst speaking […]. What is more, Gaius intimidated his audience with a style of speech that was passionate to the extent of being pathetic, but Tiberius used a style that was mild, aimed at arousing compassion. Tiberius’ choice of words was correct and carefully selected, the words of Gaius were brilliant and enthralling. (Plutarchus). Source Wikipedia

Pavel Svedomsky ‘Fulvia With the Head of Cicero’ and a detail

Pavel Svedomsky ‘Fulvia With the Head of Cicero’

“Apart from the Gracchus brothers, hundreds of others delivered their speeches here; emissaries were received; heads of the victims of Marcus Antonius, Lepidus and Octavianus were displayed here during the winter of 43-42. The head and the hand of Cicero were placed at the Forum near the orator’s stage for quite some time, the same place where he used to address the people. More people were drawn to this than when he actually spoke. (Plutarchus Jona Lendering) Cicero’s last words are said to have been, “There is nothing proper about what you are doing, soldiers, but do try to kill me properly.” He bowed to his captors, leaning his head out of the litter in a gladiatorial gesture to ease the task. By baring his neck and throat to the soldiers, he was indicating that he wouldn’t resist. Accoring to Plutarch, Herennius first slew him, then cut off his head. On Antony’s instructions his hands, which had penned the Philippics against Antony, were cut off as well; these were nailed along with his head on the Rostra [naval ram] in the Forum Romanum according to the tradition of Marius and Sulla, both of whom had displayed the heads of their enemies in the Forum. Cicero was the only victim of the proscriptions who was displayed in that manner. “

“According to Cassius Dio (in a story often mistakenly attributed to Plutarch), Antony’s wife Fulvia took Cicero’s head, pulled out his tongue, and jabbed it repeatedly with her hairpin in final revenge against Cicero’s power of speech.”

Cited and translated from Jona Lendering, ‘Stad in marmer Gids voor het antieke Rome aan de hand van tijdgenoten’, Athenaeum- Polak&Van Gennep, Amsterdam 2002 pp. 155-156 and Wikipedia

At the time of Julius Caesar, the old rostra at the foot of the Capitoline was moved to the real ancient square, the Roman Forum, placing the rostra directly on the axis across the divine temple of Caesar. For a proper map with the history of the comitium and the senate, click here (source: Wikipedia).

Remnants of the temple of Concordia and a reconstruction

Roman Forum: Remnants temple of Concordia
photo: Cassius Ahenobarbus

In 367 BC., the temple of Concordia was inaugurated. Originally, only the patricians (rich folk) were eligible for selection into the senate. After a hefty battle spanning some two hundred years, the people had the right to elect the people’s tribunes into the senate. These tribunes had a veto right, allowing them to block votes. For five years, the people’s tribunes Licinius and Sextius made it impossible to govern Rome by invoking their veto rights. They aimed to accomplish that the people’s tribunes, too, could be elected as consuls. There were two consuls, one governed the land and the other headed the Roman army. After five years, the senate yielded and the tribunes received what they wished for, the Lex Licinia Sextia were adopted. To commemorate this happy ending, the Concordia was founded.

Remains of these two temples      Other view
(left, columns Saturn temple entablement right, columns, Concordia)

Roman Forum: Remains Saturn temple Concordia temple
photos: Carole Raddato and other view: Massimo Virgilio Unsplash License

Remnants of the temple of Saturn

Roman Forum: Remnants otemple of Saturn
photo: Carole Raddato

Continuation Rome day 3 Roman Forum: Religious and Trade Centre