Roman Forum (Foro Romano)

The Roman Forum (Forum Romanum, although the Romans were referring to it as often as the Forum Magnum, or simply Forum) is the core of ancient Rome, the seat of political, legal and social. It is located in Via dei Fori Imperiali, in the valley between the Palatine and the Capitol. Many are the remains of the Romanesque that have great relevance. These include the Basilica Emilia, the ancient paved road called Argiletum, the Curia, the Arch of Severus Seventh, the Rostra where orators spoke, the column of Phocas and the Temple of Vesta, the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina and the Basilica of Maxentius.

The Roman Forum is considered one of the major attractions of Rome. After the Colosseum, is a second must for those who love history and archeology of the Roman era: the Roman Forum. Located directly opposite the Coliseum, the entrance of the Forum, uphill, reserves the crossing of an ancient Roman road, paved with stones originate. It is assumed that forum is derived originally from foras, out, because the forum was, at its rising, outside the Palatine hill. At the entrance of the archaeological site you can see the Arch of Titus, which stands out, with its panoramic views of the archway, on the entire archaeological site. The nerve center of daily life in ancient Rome, the heart of all the "negotiating" was right here in the Forum.

The first buildings, which date back to the sixth century BC, were the archaic monuments du Comice, the political headquarters of the oldest in Rome. The last monument is instead known as the Column of Phocas, erected in 608 AD to honor the Emperor Phocas.

The paving of the Via Sacra runs through the entire valley of the Forum and is still clearly visible. This road used for centuries by religious processions and triumphal processions, joins the Capitoline hill with the distant Monte Albano, a sacred place for the Latin population. The valley of the forum was originally outside compared to the towns on the hills and location of the border between Rumni, that the Romans of the Palatine and the Sabines (allocated on the Quirinal). And in the valley of the Forum took place bloody clashes between Sabines and Romans, especially those that followed the legendary "Rape of the Sabine". With the expansion of the Romans of the Palatine, the area became part of the city, the so-called "pomerio" and was drained through a large drainage ditch, the Cloaca Maxima, only to be intended to meetings and assemblies.

In the background is the base of the Tabularium and the remains of the Temple of Saturn. Since ancient times, the valley of the Forum was a meeting place, or crash depending on the circumstances, including the communities of Roman hills, a shared space to devote to trading, the war and the sacred, in one word the negotia. The court, however, was also a place of elections and censuses in the area called Comitium. The period of greatest splendor of the Roman Forum was one of the Republic, where the streets of this valley teeming with traffic and people from all walks of life and races. Sacred rites were celebrated, it pronounced ads of public transactions, they were playing dice on the Tabulae lusorie and the Temple of the Vestal Virgins was accessible to admire, on certain days, the eternal flame. At the end of the Republic, Silla was impaled the head of the opposition on the edge of a fountain. With the Empire also changes the function of the court: on the policy, the area becomes monumental.

Commercial activities were transferred on Via dei Fori Imperiali. Multiplied within the Forum statues, columns and arches.

With the decline of the Roman Empire, the Forum lost its prestige and monuments, destroyed by the numerous barbarian invasions (especially in 410 by the Goths, and 455 by the Vandals) were left to decay.

But in spite of what you may think, it was not so much the Middle Ages to declare the slow decline of the Forum but the Renaissance, because of the looting, by the Church, of all the archaeological ruins, temples and columns of merit, that would be used for the creation of new ecclesiastical structures of buildings inhabited by popes and aristocrats. Were destroyed almost all the triumphal arches and marble thrown into the furnace to turn them into lime.

Assuming the name "Campo Vaccino", the Forum became a field used for grazing or for sowing and burying gradually until it disappears almost completely.

Only at the beginning of the twentieth century, the Forum was the subject of numerous salvage excavations that brought to light one of the most important archaeological complexes of the kings of Rome, of the Republican and the Imperial.

 

Buildings and monuments

The Arch of Septimius Severus, built between 202 and 203, was dedicated by the Senate to the emperor Septimius Severus and his two sons, Caracalla and Geta to celebrate the victory over the Parthians, obtained with two military campaigns ended respectively in the 195 and in 197-198, triumphal arch with three openings (with a central passage flanked by two smaller side passages), located in Rome, at the north- east of the Roman Forum and stands on a plinth of travertine, originally only accessible to means of stairs.

The Column of Phocas, which was erected before the Rostra and dedicated in honor of the Byzantine Emperor Phocas on August 1, 608, was the last addition to the Roman Forum.

The fluted Corinthian column, stands 13.6 meters high, on its base cubical white marble and seems originally to have been built around the second century. The square brick foundation was not originally visible, as it was not the current level of the forum dug to the Augustan paving until the nineteenth century.

To the left of the Public Forum is the Basilica Emilia, civil basilica, built in the Roman Forum of ancient Rome.

The basilica, although only reached us in the form of ruins, is the only survivor of the Republican Rome, the Basilica Porcia being completely disappeared (the oldest), the Basilica and the Basilica Sempronia Opimia. Nevertheless, the current look is influenced by numerous restorations and rebuilding of the imperial era.

Next to this, on the Sacred Way, is the Curia of the third century where the Senate met, the square was used for political speeches and rallies.

Opposite to the Curia is the Basilica Giulia of the first century and to his left the Temple of Castor and Pollux, dedicated to the Dioscuri Castor and Pollux, with three beautiful Corinthian columns.

The round building is the Temple of Vesta, small tholos temple located at the eastern end of the Roman Forum in Rome, along the Via Sacra near the Regia and the House of the Vestals: together with the latter building was a single religious complex, with the name of Vestae atrium, and in the house of the Vestals lived behind the College of the Virgin keepers of the Sacred fire of Vesta.

On the other side of the Forum there are the three times of the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine in the fourth century.

To his left the temple of Romulus always the fourth century, begun by Maxentius and completed by Constantine.

Near the exit is positioned the Arch of Titus a triumphal arch with a single arch. Masterpiece of Roman art, it is the symbol of the Flavian monument, thanks to substantial innovations in both the architectural and structural, both in the field of art - sculpture. The arch was erected in memory of the Jewish war fought by Tito in Galilee. In 69, the year of the four emperors, Vespasian returned to Rome to claim the throne, leaving Titus in Judea to put an end to the revolt, which Tito made ​​the following year, Jerusalem was sacked, the Temple destroyed, and much of the population killed or forced to flee the city. On his return to Rome in 71 was received in triumph.

List of buildings and monuments still visible or disappeared in the Roman Forum (clockwise around the square and then moving away to the south- east):

• Tabularium

• Basilica Emilia

• Shrine of Venus Cloacina

• Temple of Janus

• Basilica Porcia

• Comice

• Safety

• Lapis Niger

• Curia

• Curia Hostilia

• Curia Iulia

• Basics of honorary monuments in the Roman Forum

• Base decennalia

• Arch of Septimius Severus

• Rostra

• Column Menia

• Column rostrata of Gaius Duilio

• Umbilicus Urbis

• Miliario aureus

• Volcanal

• Temple of Saturn

• Arch of Tiberius

• Portico of the Consenting

• Temple of Vespasian and Titus

• Temple of Concordia

• Basilica Opimia

• Prison Tulliano or Mamertinus

• Column of Phocas

• Lacus Curtius

• Cavity of the equestrian statue of Domitian

• Basilica Julia

• Temple of Augustus

• Temple of Castor and Pollux

• Source of Juturna

• Statio aquarum (Office of the aqueducts)

• Oratory of the Forty Martyrs

• Groups of buildings in the Roman Forum domizianei

• Church of Santa Maria Antiqua

• Horrea Agrippiana

• Temple of the Divine Julius

• Arch of Augustus

• Director

• Arch of Gaius and Lucius Caesar

• Fornix Fabianus

• Temple of Vesta

• House of the Vestals

• Temple of Antoninus and Faustina

• Necropolis of the Temple of Antoninus Pius and Faustina (Sepolcreto archaic)

• " Prison " Republican (there is no evidence that it was a prison)

• Sacred Way summa

• Temple of Divus Romulus

• Porch medieval

• Horrea piperiana

• Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine

• Arch of Titus

• Temple of Venus and Rome

• Traces of a House Republican

• Antiquarium of the Forum

• Cloaca Maxima (the first part was developed in the area between the Basilica Emilia and Julia)

 

The flooring

The first floor of the Roman Forum was the first Etruscan period, dating from the late seventh century BC As a result, the square was paved several times and in several places the Republican era have been found traces of this stage.

The floor is currently visible dates back to a date close to 12 BC and this has been demonstrated by the inclusion in big letters still visible (although in part the result of restoration) at the column of Phocas, and that you also read in a relief today at the Capitoline Museums. There is quoted L. Naevius L. f. Surdinus pr., A character who was in charge of settling the judgments between Romans and foreigners lived precisely on that date. The meaning to be given enrollment is actually to pay tribute to the lender of the reconstruction of the pavement, as it is in other cases of Roman colonies (Terracina, Saepinum, Velleia, etc..). The new arrangement had to be made ​​necessary after a fire, always in 12 BC, destroyed a large part of the Forum, including the Basilica Emilia, the Basilica Julia, the Temple of Vesta and the beavers.

Among the Rostra and the Lacus Curtius you can see many traces of the pavement previous era Caesar, here you can also see the forum that allow access to a series of tunnels that extend under the whole court, also the work of Caesar era. Since during the excavations brought to light the remains of wooden equipment of elevators, this was put in relation with the use of the Forum for gladiatorial shows made ​​in the Republican era. The openings were closed by the flooring Surdinus and in those years was built the first permanent amphitheater in the Campus Martius (the amphitheater Statilius Taurus).

The column of Phocas, the last monument to be erected in the square of the Forum confirms us as in 608 AD the level of foot traffic was still one of the Augustan age.

Front of the Rostra is a square area unpaved: here were symbolic of the fig trees, olive trees and vineyards, replanted in recent times. Here could be found the statue of Marsyas, represented the center of the forum in the reliefs on Trajan in the Curia Iulia.

A trapezoidal area close to the opening of Surdunus has a floor to the lowest level, which corresponds to the time of Caesar and, in some places, a glimpse of the even more ancient blocks of tufa. Here, towards the east, a dodecagon in outcrop (friable tufa) supports a circular base, with an opening at the center, which was to be a well, most likely the Lacus Curtius.

 

Detailed historical description

Origins

The valley of the Forum, swampy and inhospitable, was used between X and VII century BC as a necropolis of the first villages allocated the surrounding hills. According to the historian Tacitus, the plain of the Forum as well as the nearby hill of the Capitol were added to the square Rome (Palatine) of Romulus to Titus Tatius.

Livy and other ancient authors say that, shortly after the founding of Rome, was fought in the area of the future Roman Forum a great battle between the Romans and Sabines: The Battle of Lake Curzio. Cause of the clash was the betrayal of the vestal virgin, Tarpeia, daughter of the commander of the nearby Roman fortress Tarpeio Spurrier, who, corrupted with gold from Titus Tatius, ushered in the fortified citadel on the Capitoline a squad of armed men by deception. The occupation of the fortress of the Sabines, brought the two armies to stand at the foot of two hills (Palatine Hill and Capitoline Hill, right where later arose the Roman forum), while the leaders of both parties urged his soldiers to fight: Mezio Curzio Ostio Hostilius for the Sabines and the Romans. The battlefield was surrounded by many hills, does not give the two armies sufficient escape routes or restricted areas to pursue the enemy under way".

It is said that during the battle, Romulus, seeing his back, he invoked Jupiter and promised him victory in the event of a temple dedicated to him (near the Roman forum), then threw himself into the midst of the battle being able to fight back to the places where, a few years later, would arise the so-called Regia and the Temple of Vesta.

It was at this time that the Sabine women, who had been kidnapped earlier by the Romans, ran under a hail of bullets between the opposing factions to divide the contenders and appease the rage.

"On one hand begging their husbands (the Romans) and the other fathers (the Sabines). Begged them not to commit a horrible crime, staining the blood of a father or a son- and avoid staining of patricide that would have given birth to their children, grandchildren and children to each other. »

(Livy, Ab Urbe seasoned books, I, 13.)

 

With this gesture, both sides were convinced to sign a peace treaty, launching the union between the two peoples, combining the two kingdoms and transferring decision-making power in Rome, while the nearby lake near the present Roman forum, was called in memory of the battle and the commander Sabine escaped death (Mezio Curzio), Lacus Curtius.

Only around 600 BC, at the hands of the Etruscan king Tarquinius Priscus, the valley was drained with the construction of the Cloaca Maxima and received a paving tuff, and the square of rectangular shape was born as a market place not only for the development of the political and court, as a central point of the city to which many major roads converged, the most important of which was the Sacred Way, which ran from the foot of the Capitol to the Arch of Titus.

 

Royal period

At the second half of the sixth century BC belong to the archaic monuments du Comice, the oldest seat of political activity in Rome. The Comice constituted a space ritually oriented according to the cardinal points. In the vicinity of this complex, a paved area in dark stone, the Lapis Niger, according to legend, was linked to the place of death of Romulus: Here was found the oldest known Latin inscription. On the west side of the Comice to the foot of the Capitol, near the so-called Umbilicus Urbis, was the temple of Vulcan, an ancient sanctuary dedicated to the god Vulcan, according to legend founded by Titus Tatius.

Always date back to the sixth century the Regia, the place where the Rex sacrorum and the pontiff exercised their sacred function, the Curia said Hostilia (built according to tradition by King Tullus Hostilius), the Temple of Vesta in circular and other important sanctuaries. The visible ruins of these buildings, however, belong to all of the later reconstructions.

 

Republican period

In the early fifth century BC are due the inauguration of the temple of Saturn, with its adjacent headquarters of the exchequer (the treasure of Rome), and the Temple of Castor (484), dedicated to the Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux. Also in the fifth century (445) was consecrated to the work of the Lacus Curtius Consul Gaius Curtius Philo.

In the fourth century BC was built on the side toward the Capitol, the Temple of Concordia, on the occasion of the Agreement between patricians and plebeians, and the tribune du Comice was embellished with the Rostra, the beaks of the captured ships to the fleet of the city of Anzio (Antium).

A renewed push building transformed the forum from the second century BC, Silla regularized the background to the Capitol building on the hill Tabularium and around the square there was the construction of the four basilicas intended for the administration of justice and the conduct of business (Porcia, Emilia, Sempronia Opimia) of the four basilicas, the Basilica Emilia has come down to us through many renovations, while Porcia and Sempronia were replaced by the Basilica Julia, built by order of Caesar and completed by Augustus. In addition, under Caesar there was a radical shift of the Curia Julia, that the site of the ritual orientation to the cardinal points, was oriented according to the axes of the adjacent Caesar's Forum. Simultaneously, the tribune of the Rostra was moved to the Capitol.

 

Imperial period

The final arrangement of the fora, initiated by Caesar, was completed under Augustus: the square took on a more regular basis with the construction of two large basilicas (Emilia and Giulia) on the long sides, the new Rostra on the side of the square in the direction of the Capitol and the new temple of the Divine Julius, dedicated in 29 BC by Augustus after the death and deification of Caesar. The short side to the south- west of the Forum was found to be arranged with the temple of the Divine Julius special framed arc of Augustus and the porch of the Arch of Gaius and Lucius Caesar, by excluding from view memorials of the Regia and the Temple of Vesta. This choice should be seen in the period "Caesar" policy of Augustus, the first phase of the restoration more cautious conservative.

In this new phase of imperial building are also attributable to the reconstructions of the temples of Concord, rebuilt by Tiberius in 10 BC as if to erase the signs of the last season of the civil wars, and the Beavers (7 BC), of huge dimensions and put into relationship with the brothers Tiberius and Drusus in parallel with the mythical brothers Dioscuri. Al 2 A.D. dates the inscription to Lucius Caesar, son and designated heir of Augustus, placed at one end of the Basilica Emilia: the arcades in front of the basilica itself had in fact been devoted to his brother Lucius and Gaius Caesar.

At the end of the square was full of reconstructed buildings linked, in the name or symbols or subsidization of the restorations to the Gens Iulia.

Of the Flavian era is the construction of the Temple of Vespasian, close to that of Concordia. Outside of the Forum itself was built at the same time the Arch of Titus on the Via Sacra towards the Velia, probably built by Domitian, in the same area, in front of the Basilica of Maxentius are the next Horrea Vespasiani, the stores took from emperor Vespasian, of which only fragments remain.

Of the second century are the buildings of the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, later incorporated by the church of San Lorenzo in Miranda. The Temple of Venus and Rome, built by Hadrian, overlooking the valley of the Colosseum.

At the beginning of the third century was built on the route of the Via Sacra the Arch of Septimius Severus.

Under Diocletian to the many monuments that were then cluttering up the area of the square, were joined by five columns on high bases in masonry, they had to celebrate the Tetrarchy. In the fourth century was built the Basilica of Maxentius, completed by Constantine I. Under Maxentius was readjusted a round entrance to the Temple of Peace, which had already be being abandoned, to make the temple of the deified Romulus, dedicated to his son, Valerius Romulus, who died prematurely. Following the defeat of the usurper Magnentius (352), the praefectus urbi Nerazio Cereal dedicated a statue of the Emperor Constantius II, the base of which is still visible next to the arch of Septimius Severus, in the direction of the Curia.

Of the Flavian era, but restored in 367, is the porch of the Consenting Gods, near the Capitol, interesting testimony last paganism along with the last rebuilding of the temple of Saturn.

In the fifth century the facade of the Rostra was extended to the north- east: the new part was built of brick very roughly, and this also adorned with rostra, to fix the drilled holes which were still observable. An inscription on a single line, shows the construction by the praefectus urbi, Junius 's Day, under the Emperors Leo I and Anthemius (about 470), on the occasion of a naval victory against the Vandals, from which the property takes its name Rostra of vandalism.

At 608 was last monument erected in the Forum: this is the Column of Phocas, placed by order of the Roman Senate in order to honor the Emperor Phocas.

 

Medieval and modern

During the Middle Ages, though the memory of the Forum persisted, its monuments fell mostly in ruins, decreeing the cancellation of any exact topographical memory, or reused for new buildings (the Arch of Titus and Septimius Severus to have come down to us in good condition as it later became part of the medieval fortifications, although the first was heavily restored in the nineteenth century).

The forum went slowly burying and during the Middle Ages, used as pasture for pets and as arable land, took the name of "Campo Vaccino", between the Capitol and the Coliseum, where some ruins emerged. The massacre took place, however, in the most emblematic Renaissance Pope Julius II (1503-1513) decided to use the whole area as a quarry for building materials for reuse, often having them turned into lime, in the project of building renewal and artistic center of the city he same start. According to eyewitness reports as Pirro Ligorio, the destruction of the monuments was very rapid: sometimes a single month was enough to demolish buildings almost intact and ignoring the protests of the reservations expressed by Raphael or Michelangelo. In the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, who risked everything else as to be completely dismantled were removed the marble slabs that covered in the upper section of the columns, you can still see the marks left by the ropes in an attempt to make them collapse.

During the visit to Rome of Charles V, in April 1536, we wanted to offer a grand entrance to the king, passing him and his entourage through the Roman Forum, largely underground. The actual route of the Via Sacra, however, was then unknown and the route chosen for the parade, a straight path between the Arch of Titus and the Arch of Septimius Severus, did not correspond at all to the ancient path of the street.

The Forum was rediscovered in the sixteenth century in the area, still known at that time as vaccine field. In the following centuries were undertaken various excavations, but the area was fully excavated in the early twentieth century.

In the 1980s, for the continuation of excavations, was eliminated because of Consolation, which passed between the foot of the Capitol and the Temple of Saturn.

In 2012, the lighting will be installed to allow tourists to visit in the evening.

 

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Source:

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