The Forum of Augustus

The Forum of Augustus

The Forum Augustum or Augusti was the second of the imperial fora, adjoining the Forum Iulium, built by Augustus to provide additional room for the courts, and for other needs of the increasing population. The site was purchased by Augustus from its owners with the proceeds of the spoils of war, but he did not succeed in acquiring enough land to carry out his original plan. Within the forum was the temple of Mars Ultor which formed the essential element of the forum as the temple of Venus Genetrix did that of the forum Iulium. The work was greatly delayed, but that on the forum was hurried at last and this was opened before the temple was finished, although its actual dedication is said to have taken place on 1st August, 2 B.C., at the same time as that of the temple. Because of the temple of Mars, this forum was sometimes called forum Martis. In 19 A.D. Tiberius erected two arches, one on each side of the temple, in honour of the victories of Drusus and Germanicus in Germany. Pliny regarded this forum with the temple of Peace and the basilica Aemilia, as the three most beautiful buildings in the world, and says that the timber used in its construction was cut in the Raetian Alps in the dog days, considered to be the best time. In fact, wooden dowels were found in the sixteenth century so well preserved that they could be used again. As might be expected, many works of art were collected in the forum, including a quadriga dedicated by the senate to Augustus; and...
The Temple of Peace

The Temple of Peace

The temple of Peace was begun by Vespasian after the capture of Jerusalem in 71 A.D., and dedicated in 75. It stood in the middle of the forum Pacis, north of the basilica Aemilia, probably at the junction of the modern Vie Alessandrina and dei Pozzi. Statius seems to ascribe the completion of this temple to Domitian, but this emperor’s claim may have had little foundation. Within the temple, or attached closely to it, was a library, bibliotheca Pacis. In it were placed many of the treasures brought by Vespasian from Jerusalem, as well as famous works of Greek artists, and Pliny speaks of it, the basilica Aemilia and the forum of Augustus, as the three most beautiful monuments in Rome. Just before the death of Commodus, probably in 191, the temple was destroyed by fire, but it must have been restored, probably by Severus, for it is mentioned in the succeeding centuries as one of the most magnificent buildings in the city. It gave its name to the fourth region of the city. In 408 there were seismic disturbances for seven successive days in the forum Pacis, and the temple may have been injured then. At any rate Procopius, writing in the sixth century, says that it had long since been destroyed by lightning, although there were still many works of art set up in the immediate vicinity. The enclosure within which the temple stood is not called forum in literature until after the time of Constantine. Enclosure and temple together appear in Pliny as Pacis opera. On the north-west it adjoined the (later) forum Transitorium, and on...
Trajan’s Forum

Trajan’s Forum

The last, largest and most magnificent of the imperial fora, built by Trajan with the assistance of the Greek architect Apollodorus, and dedicated, at least in part, about 113 A.D. When completed by Trajan it consisted of the forum proper, the basilica Ulpia, the column of Trajan, and the bibliotheca, and extended from the forum Augustum north-west between the Capitoline and Quirinal hills, with the same orientation as the other imperial fora. Unlike these it did not contain a central temple of which it formed a virtual porticus. After Trajan’s death, however, Hadrian erected the great temple of Trajan on the north-west side of the bibliotheca, which thenceforth formed an integral part of the forum whole, and made it conform somewhat to the imperial type. Although the walls of the forum of Trajan and the forum of Augustus seem to have been separated by a short distance, they must have been connected by a wide avenue at least, and thus Caesar’s plan of connecting the forum Romanum and the campus Martius was finally carried out. The construction of Trajan’s forum necessitated much excavation and levelling. The space thus prepared was 185 metres in width, and the extreme length of forum and temple precinct was about 310 metres. The inscription on the pedestal of the column in connection with a passage in Cassius Dio was formerly taken to mean that the height of the column (100 Roman feet) was that of a ridge between the Capitoline and Quirinal hills which had to be cut away, but geological evidence showed that it never existed. This was confirmed by the discovery of...