Roman Imperial Forum


        _____________________     _
   ____|          2         |     |
 /     _____................|     |
|     |     |               |    75
|    |   1  |     3         |   meters
|.....|_____|...............|     |
|                           |     |
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|--------165 meters---------|
  1. Temple of Venus Genetrix
    This was an octastyle peripteral temple sine postico. The cult statue was by the famous sculptor Arkesilaos.

  2. Porticos
    These were used as museums, holding paintings, a set of six famous dactylothecae, a gold statue of Cleopatra (fond memories, perhaps?) and a golden breastplate adorned with British pearls.

  3. Main piazza
    According to accounts, this open space was graced by an equestrian statue of Caesar, mounted on Alexander the Great's horse Bucephalos.

The Forum Iulium represented Gaius Iulius Caesar's solution to the increasing space problems in the Forum Romanum. It provided additional space for citizens to meet, and served as the location for some ceremonies that had previously occupied the Forum.

The other effect of its construction, of course, was to link Caesar to all that the Forum Romanum represented: political power, religious ceremony, tradition and civic responsibility. At the same time that he paid for the construction of his Forum, Caesar arranged for the Senate house in the Forum Romanum to be rebuilt next to it, almost as an annexe. It was a stunning piece of propaganda: the Senate is an annexe to Caesar.

The choice of temple to anchor the Forum Iulium shows the same genius for spin. "Venus Genetrix" means "Venus the ancestress". Caesar was reminding Rome that the Julian clan traced its ancestry back to Aeneas, son of Venus. He was claiming to be the direct descendant of a goddess.

Most of the Forum Iulium was paved over to make the Via dell'Imperio (by Benito Mussolini, another ruler who re-planned Rome to maximise his personal impact.) There are still some remains near the Forum Romanum, though they are not much to look at.

  • Course notes from "The Topography and Monuments of Ancient Rome", taught at UC Berkeley by Professor Stephen Millar
  • The Ancient Roman City, by John Stambaugh (course text)
  • The Mute Stones Speak: the Story of Architecture in Italy by Paul MacKendrick (course text)

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