History for the Rest of Us

Temple of Concord

Temple of Concord

Jun 6, 2014

Dedicated to the Roman goddess Concordia (goddess of concord and harmony), the Temple of Concord was vowed in 367 BC to commemorate reconciliation between patricians and plebians after the Aventine Secession. The Licinian laws, expanding the civil rights of the commoners or ‘plebians’, had been proposed and were eventually accepted despite great opposition by the patricians. M. Furius Camillus had promised to consecrate a temple to Concordia if peace was made. As part of the agreement between the two groups the first plebian consul was elected and going forward one of the two consuls was required to be a plebian. Centrally located between the Capitoline Hill and the Comitium, the Temple served as a reminder of the peace that had been established. In 211 B.C. a statue of Victory on its roof was struck down by lightning. In order to foster harmony after the murder of Gaius Gracchus, the Temple was rebuilt in 121 BC. The original dedication probably taking place on the 22nd of July. It was rededicated on January 16, 12 AD by the future emperor Tiberius during the reign of Augustus. This final restoration was noted for its opulent marble and rich architectural ornamentation. The cella, (central chamber or sanctuary of the temple) housed a row of Corinthian columns. These columns had pairs of leaping rams instead of the traditional corner volutes and were raised on a continuous plinth projecting from the wall that divided the cella into bays. Part of the function of the Temple appears to have been as a museum since it housed a wealth of Greek sculpture, paintings, and other works of art. The Temple was also used for meetings of the Senate – especially in times of civil disturbance (Cicero delivered his fourth Catilinarian oration here). The Temple of Concord backed up against the Tabularium at the base of the Capitoline Hill on the northwestern side of the Forum. Its design was unique since due to space limitations it’s facade was on the long side of the structure. The Temple was razed to the ground and turned into a lime-kiln to recover its marble during the 1400s so only the foundation remains today. [nform...

All Roads Lead to Rome – Milliarium Aureum

In 20 BC, Augustus, as curator viarum or inspector-in-chief of a road or roads, erected the Milliarium Aureum. This monument was most likely a marble column sheathed in gilded bronze and was adjacent to the Rostra on the opposite side from the Umbilicus Urbis. A huge marble cylinder matching this description was found in 1835 near this location. All roman roads were considered to begin from this point and distances in the Roman Empire were measured relative to that point. Hence, the saying ‘All roads lead to Rome’ was surely a reference to the Milliarium Aureum. There are three main hypotheses about what the inscription on the monument contained: 1. It contained only the name and title of the Emperor. 2. It contained the names of the most important cities of Italy and the Empire with the distances to them from Rome. 3. It contained the names of the roads out of Rome and the men who had been made curator viarum to oversee the upkeep of them. While there are marble fragments in the Forum Romanum labeled Milliarium Aureum, scholars tend to believe these fragments actually are from the Umbilicus Urbis. The derived diameter of these fragments match the diameter of the Umbilicus Urbis and would have probably been too large for a milestone monument. Items from the Creating History...

Scalae Gemoniæ

Scalae Gemoniæ

Dec 22, 2012

The Scalae Gemoniæ was a flight of steps leading up to the Capitoline past the carcer, on which the bodies of certain criminals, who had been executed, were thrown and left exposed for a time — a frequent practice during the empire. They are often mentioned, first under Tiberius, and are called scalae Gemoniæ, …gradus gemitorii, and…gradus Gemonii. Only two…passages give any topographical information, but that does not determine the course of these steps with precision. It is probable, however, that it coincided approximately with the present Via di S. Pietro in carcere. It is possible that the Gradus Monetae, mentioned by Ovid, may have connected in some way with these steps. Gemoniæ was undoubtedly connected in the popular mind with gemo, ‘I groan’ but incorrectly. It is rather derived from the proper name Gemonius, but the reason for its use is unknown. The most famous to be meet their demise on the sight were the former confidant of Tiberius, Sejanus; and the emperor Vitellius. Death of Sejanus and his Family Cassius Dio mentions the Scalae in Roman History – Book LVIII: ‘For the moment, it is true, he [Sejanus] was merely cast into prison; but a little later, in fact that very day, the senate associated in the temple of Concord not far from the jail, when they saw the attitude of the populace and that none of the Pretorians was about,…condemned him to death. By their order he was executed and his body cast down the Stairway [Scalae Gemoniæ], where the rabble abused it for three whole days and afterwards threw it into the river. His children also were put to death by decree… His wife Apicata was not condemned, to be sure, but on learning that her children were dead, and after seeing their bodies on the Stairway [Scalae Gemoniæ], she withdrew and composed a statement about the death of Drusus,…then, after sending this document to Tiberius, she committed suicide.’ Death of Vitellius Tacitus refers to the Scalae in The Histories – Book III:’Vitellius, compelled by threatening swords, first to raise his face and offer it to insulting blows, then to behold his own statues falling round him, and more than...