The imperial fora
|Maquette of Rome Paul Bigot large size Lay out Plan des forums impériaux|
Top right: Roman Forum Left from top to bottom the followings forums:
Peace, Nerva, Augustus, Caesar (right of Augustus) and Trajan
We will likely cover this area first before we visit the Forum Romanum, but that will depend on the temperature. The Forum Romanum is situated in a valley where temperatures can really skyrocket. Wikipedia has more info about the imperial fora here.
|Julius Caesar before the Forum of Caesar and the statue|
photo: Leomudde en het bronzen beeld: edk7
Because the Forum Romanum comprised a rather small area and the emperors desired their own space, they were forced to find another location. This new location became the valley between the Palatine and the Quirinal, north of and adjacent to the Forum Romanum. The imperial fora served as a buffer against the impoverished areas north of the Forum, like the Suburu (More info about the Subura here).
|‘Ancient Rome had its Urbs, the city, the area situated up-high that was home to the rich and powerful. And then there was Suburra, a densely populated working-class district that also offered shelter to a mish mash of hucksters, thieves, whores, gladiators and criminal innkeepers. Being a wealthy Roman, you would do well at night to avoid this swirling crowd lest you had torches and some slaves to guard you.’|
Source: Marc Leijendekker NRC
The forum of Caesar
The new imperial fora were complexes with fountains, squares, gardens, temples, reading halls, basilicas and halls to stroll in. Caesar made the decision to build the first imperial forum, the Forum Julium or the Caesar forum.
|Remnants of the forum of Caesar large size Aerial picture Lay out of the forum of Caesar Reconstruction drawing|
Forum of Caesar 10th century
|Remnants of the forum of Caesar large size Reconstruction model of the Forum of Caesar|
It cost Caesar a fortune, all the spoils of war he brought from Gaul. Caesar had to purchase all kinds of houses to make room for his forum. To boot, the Curia with all its buildings had to be moved somewhat, while the offshoot of the Capitoline also caused serious issues and had to be largely excavated. The Forum was completed by his adoptive son Octavianus, the later emperor Augustus.
The Caesar forum is an enclosed, rectangular courtyard of 160 x 75 metres. The square was surrounded on three sides by a double colonnade. An extended main road of 160 metres ended up at a temple devoted to the matriarch of the Caesar family: the Venus Genetrix (mother). According to Caesar, he descended from the goddess Venus. Her statue was next to Caesar’s in the temple’s apse. The Greek sculptor Arcileus made the statue. Caesar had the breasts of the goddess decorated with pearls. A statue of Caesar’s true love, Cleopatra, was also given a spot in the temple (more about this temple? click here for Wikipedia).
|Three columns of the temple of Venus Genetrix reconstruction and the map Large size|
Reconstruction model of the temple of Venus Genetrix Frieze of the Venus-Genetrix temple
His own cavalry statue stood in front of the temple. The horse, originally a statue of Alexander the Great, made by Greek sculptor Lysippos, was looted. Not Alexander, but Caesar came to mount the horse. The walled space was also used for shops that were located on the south side. (Remnants can still be seen). After the completion by Augustus, the forum was given another drastic change by Trajan. Some columns of the colonnade and the stage with three columns of the Venus-Genetrix temple still stand.
A novelty of the Genetrix temple is the round apse that closes the cella: an innovation that would be often repeated.
Forum van Augustus
Emperor Augustus, the adoptive son of Caesar, built his own forum.
|Emperor Augustus in front of the forum of Augustus large size Augustus statue|
photos: Xuan Che and Augustus edk7
Augustus, the adoptive son of Caesar, built his own forum.
n Augustus edk7
|Forum of Augustus reconstruction and with the neighbourhood Subura behind large size|
Interior right exedra reconstruction Large size
photos: professor frenchieen mrhson
|Reconstruction of the forum of Augustus large size Forum of Augustus reconstruction of the exedra|
Video Forum of Augustus Altieri4.com (1.21 minutes) Video Forum of Augustus reconstruction Capware ( 1.12 minutes)
Forum of Augustus:
1. Le Plan De Rome
2. Youtube Forum of Augustus Le Plan De Rome
3. Youtube Forum of Augustus Altieri4.com (1.21 minutes)
This forum north of the Caesar forum continued with Caesar’s design, which in turn was based on Hellenistic squares. This again required many homes in the Suburra to be demolished. The impoverished people were forced to move.
The Forum of Augustus had a rectangular map with a colonnade on the sides. At the end of the long axis was a temple devoted to Mars Ultor (the avenging god Mars because of Caesar’s death). The temple held Caesar’s sword and the honorary symbols of the Roman army that Augustus retrieved back from the Parthians. A novelty were the two arch-shaped exedras at the end of the colonnade next to the Mars Ultor temple. The colonnades had many statues including that of Julius, Aeneas and the ancestors of the Julian family. Augustus made it clear this way that the history of Rome was the history of the Julians. The centre of the square had a large statue of Augustus with a chariot. Because Augustus feared that a fire in the neighbouring impoverished area of Suburra would destroy his forum, he had his entire complex walled. To the right, you can still see the gate in the wall that provided access to the Suburra.
|Passage of the forum of Augustus to the working class district in the 19th century and nowadays the other side and the other side|
Suburra Piazza della Suburra
Entirely eastward, directly behind the temple of Romulus lies the peace forum, also called the Forum of Vespasian. Barely anything has survived. It was commissioned by Vespasian. The entire complex was a large, rectangular square surrounded by colonnades. The peace temple was at the back, as a commemoration of the peace treaty following a long period of civil wars. In this temple, which was not elevated, the loot was kept that was brought in by Vespasian’s son Titus from Jerusalem. Both sides of the temple had libraries and colonnades with famous statues.
|Remnants of the Forum of Vespasian large size Reconstruction drawing Reconstruction model|
|Peace Forum Hall of the “Forma Urbis Romae” The wall of the “Forma Urbis Romae” nowadays|
photo: the imperial fora
Forum of Vespasian
1. Pictures Forum of Vespasian Le Plan De Rome
Forum of Nerva:
1. Youtube remnants and a reconstruction (2.13 minutes)
2. Youtube Forum of Nerva (1.17 minutes)
3. Pictures of Forum (Wikipedia)
|Remnants of the Forum of Nerva large size Another side of the Forum of Nerva Forum in the current urban context|
Reconstruction model Reconstruction drawing Reconstruction temple of Minerva Forum of Nerva in the Middle Ages c. 1000
|Forum of Nerva Passage to the Suburra|
Youtube remnants and a reconstruction (2.13 minutes)
Forum of Trajan
|Trajan statue in front of the Forum of Trajan|
1. Youtube lecture by professor Kleiner Yale University Forum of Trajan (starts at j 22.10 minutes)
2. Youtube lecture Basilica Ulpia by professor Kleiner Yale University (starts at 31.30 minutes)
3. Youtube Forum of Trajan and Trajan’s market Discovery (9.07 – 12.04 minutes)
4. Youtube lecture Trajan column by professor Kleiner Yale University (starts at 45.30 minutes)
5. Youtube lecture professor Kleiner Yale University (starts at 59.30 minutes)
6. Youtube Khan Academy Trajan’s market (6 minutes)
7. Youtube Khan Academy Trajan’s market (3.55 minutes)
8. Youtube Khan Academy Trajan column (4.55 minutes)
9. Youtube Trajan’s Forum Capware (3.40 minutes)
10. Youtube The construction of the Colonnade of Trajan National Geographic (4.46 minutes)
|Remnants of the Forum of Trajan the columns of the basilica Ulpia large size|
Reconstruction model with view on the facade of the basilica Ulpia and the column of Trajan Aerial remnants of Trajan’s forum
|Aerial picture of the Forum of Trajan large size Reconstruction connection of forums of Augustus and Trajan Maquette |
Video Trajan’s Forum Tim Wright (1.09 minutes) Video Forum of Trajan (1.55 minutes)
|The Market of Trajan large size|
| Trajan’s market Via Biberatica Shops reconstruction|
The significant modifications in the landscape allowed Apollodorus to construct a forum with a length of 300 metres and a width of 185 metres. This forum thus trumped all the previously built fora not just in size, but in splendour. The northwest of the Forum was closed off by the temple: Divus Trajan, but nothing of it remains.
|Trajan market and a reconstruction of the hall|
Video reconstruction Capeware column (3.40 minutes)
Video Library Capware (starts at 1.25 minutes)
Video Khan Academy Column of Trajan (4.55 minutes)
Video Building the column of Trajan National Geographic (4.46 minutes)
Trajan’s Column in Rome (archeology)
Trajan’s Column (University of St Andrews)
Reading Trajan’s Column Part 1 (National Geographic)
Trajan’s Column The story Part 2 (National Geographic)
Essay Trajan Column (Dr. Jeffrey Becker)
Wikipedia 140 images of the casts of the column (Museo della Civilta Romana)
This statue later had to make room for the H. Petrus. The gold urn with the ashes of Trajan and his wife was kept in the pedestal. A spiral band of two hundred metres with sculpted reliefs was crafted along the column. It depicted the wars against the Dacians.
This idea was entirely novel, and originally very easy to see from the ground, but also from the vantage point of the two libraries. The gold urn with the ashes of Trajan was kept in the base.
|Library of Trajan|
picture: National Geographic
Crosswise and directly behind the column and the libraries was the basilica Ulpia. Some columns still remain. The Ulpia had five aisles and two semi-round apses on the ends. The large dimensions are still obvious by looking at a two metre high Corinthian capital and a piece of column of two metres across, which are now behind the Trajan column, but were originally a part of the Ulpia.
|Reconstructions: Column of Trajan large size Column colour (detail) Top of Trajan statue|
Statue of Peter at the top of Trajan’s column Relief original in colour Details: 1 2 3
In front of the Ulpia basilica there was an enclosed squared with colonnades with two exedras in the middle near the sides, with one them being the market of Trajan. The middle of the square held the cavalry statue of Trajan.
|Pedestal large size Relief pedestal large size Relief of the column Spiral embossed band of the column|
Reconstruction of the urn of Trajan Reconstruction of the pedestal of the column between the libraries
photos: Pedestal SonomaPic Man and relief HEN-Magonza
When emperor Constantine visits the Forum of Trajan in 356 and sees the statue, he calls out that he could never replicate this, but he could replicate the horse that Trajan mounted. To which the prince answered: “Then first build a stable.” When pope Gregory visits the forum around 500 AD. and witnesses the depictions on the column of Trajan, he gets so moved that he drops to his knees and prays to God to free the soul of the heathen Trajan from Hell. After returning to the St. Peter, the pope receives a vision that the soul of Trajan has indeed been freed by the Lord, but that he should refrain from praying for heathen souls. Another source claims Gregory was given the choice of three days of hellfire or pain and suffering on Earth. He chose the latter and his health never returned back to normal. Further east there was a triumphal arch with three passages, the entrance to the square.
After the fall of the Roman empire, the Forum and the imperial fora begin to decay. Towards the end of the Middle Ages, large parts are covered in earth and a few columns or parts thereof protrude from the ground.
|Imperial fora Middle Ages about 1000 reconstruction large size|
|Étienne Dupérac ‘Trajan’s forum’ 1575 in its entirety and large size Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam Visscher ‘Trajan’s column’ 1681 |
Piranesi ‘Trajan’s column’ 1748-1778 Large size Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam Victor-Jean Nicolle ‘View of Trajan column 1754-1820’
In the 1930s, Mussolini demolished the working class districts that arose centuries after Rome’s decline, to excavate the old imperial forums again. Mussolini commissioned the Via dei Fori Imperiali, straight through the imperial forums, of which a part is still beneath the road’s asphalt.
|Via Fori dei Imperiali large size Via dei Fori Imperiali before the interventions of Mussolini Video demolition under Mussolini|
Photo: Michał Banach
picture: Zach Tanner