Roman Forum: Imperial Times 1

The Roman Forum east and west

Forum Romanum: imperial times
photo: Tranquiligold Jin

In c. 48 BC., Julius Caesar (the Dutch word ‘keizer’ is derived from this) takes the seat of power. He was assassinated in the senate (Jean-Léon Gérôme) in  44 BC by twenty-three senators, each of them plunging a knife into his body. In the five years of Caesar’s reign, the Roman Forum changed considerably: See Map (structures of Republican Rome are shown in red, those of Imperial Rome in black)

The basilica Aemilia was restored, the basilica Sempronia was rebuilt in a large and new basilica. The old senate building, the Curia Hostilia from the republican era, was rebuilt in the Curia Julia (the current curia was rebuilt by Diocletian around 300 AD).

Curia Julia other side    Rebuild Curia Julia under Diocletian reconstruction

Forum Romanum: Curia Julia facade
photo other side: Sebastià Giralt

Caesar also moved the old rostra. The new rostra was placed exactly on the axis in front of a new temple, the temple of Divus Julius (divine Caesar, the human Caesar turned into a God post-mortum). 

The Rostra and side      Top view      Reconstruction drawing

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

On the spot where Caesar’s body was burned, Augustus – the first emperor and successor of Caesar, founded the divine temple of Julius Caesar. An altar was placed in front of the temple where sacrifices for Caesar could be made.

This worship of Caesar and of the later emperors signalled the end to the old comitium, where the chieftains first gathered and where later on the senate made their important decisions.

Remnants of the  temple of Divus Julius 
W.C Eckersberg ‘Via Sacra and the Antoninus and Faustina temple’ 1814

Roman Forum: Remnants Divus Julius temple
photo: Rabax63

Remnants of the lost arch of Augustus    The location of the lost arch

Roman Forum: remnants Arch Augustus
photo: Tjflex2

The temple of Vespasian and Titus

Remnants of the temple of Vespasian and Titus and a reconstruction    Detail

Roman Forum: remnants Vespasian Titus temple
photo: Wknight94

The later emperors also heavily influenced the square. For example, at the foot of the Capitoline, next to the Concordia (reconstruction) around 81 AD, the Vespasian temple in honour of Vespasian and his son Titus was founded. The temple held the statues of the emperor and his son on pedestals. When Vespasian died, he tried his utmost best to die standing; befitting of an emperor. Facing death, Vespasian allegedly mockingly said: ‘What a pity, I believe that I am turning into a God.’ Three columns of this temple remain as of 2003, which include depictions like oxen as a force against evil. More about the temple of Vespasian and Titus: Digitalis Forum Romanum (English) 

“The original inscription on the upper part of the architrave reads:
Beneath the previous inscription a new one is added:
Only the last word is saved on the frieze of the front.”
Source Wikipedia

The Antoninus and Faustina temple

Antoninus and Faustina temple and Arch of Titus    Frieze    
W.C Eckersberg ‘Via Sacra and the Antoninus and Faustina temple’ 1814 

Roman Forum: Antonius Faustina temple
photos: Carole Raddato and Eckersberg: google art project

The other side of the Forum is home to the Antoninus and Faustina temple. When the wife of Antoninus, Faustina, passed away, he commissions a temple in 141 AD, to worship her as a new deity (diva). Because this temple was converted into a church in the 11th century, named the San Lorenzo in Miranda, it has remained the best preserved temple on the Forum Romanum. Later on this temple was given a baroque wall.

The Antoninus and Faustina temple zoom in
      Stairs and headless statue    Reconstruction model

Roman Forum: Antonius Faustina temple
photos: Carole Raddato and stairs: Sarah Nichols

Piranesi ‘Temple of Antonius and Faustina’ 1748-1778 in its entirety
Youtube The drawing of Piranesi people in front of the temple (3.26 minutes)

Piranesi ‘Temple of Antonius and Faustina’ 1748-1778

Roman Forum: Doors Romulus 
photos: Old_Man_Leica and the key: Jamie Heath

The original doors of the temple of Romulus and the keys

Next to this temple / church is the so-called temple of Romulus. This temple from the early 4th century AD was also likely a temple devoted to a deity. This one is not devoted to the Romulus, but according to some archaeologists to the son of emperor Maxentius, who was named Romulus. The temple is in good condition and still has its original doors and locks.

Temple of Romulus and facade    Reconstruction model   Map of temple/church
C. W. Eckersberg ‘Cosmas and Damian church’ c. 1814    MET preliminary study (scroll)

Roman Forum: Romulus temple
photos: dvdbramhall and facade: Sebastià Giralt

E. Dupérac  ‘Ruins of the Temples of Antoninus and Faustina and Romulus’ 1575
E. Dupérac Rijksmuseum Amsterdam    Present situation of the two temples    
Matthijs Bril ‘Ruins on the Roman Forum’ 1560 – 1610′ Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
Willem van Nieulandt (II) ‘Gezicht op het Forum Romanum’ 1594-1635 Rijksmuseum

E. Dupérac  ‘Ruins of the Temples of Antoninus and Faustina and Romulus’ 1575

Continuation Rome day 3 Roman Forum: Imperial Times II