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...

Tiberius’ Path to Emperor

Tiberius’ Path to Emperor

Mar 6, 2013

Ancestry Tiberius was born on the Palatine, November 16, 42 BC. His father, Tiberius Claudius Nero, came from the respected Claudian line; and his mother was Livia Drusilla who a few years after Tiberius’ birth hastily divorced her husband and married Octavian (Augustus) in a politically expedient marriage. Marcus Agrippa Notwithstanding the fact that Tiberius was now well placed, in the eyes of Augustus there was a long line of successors standing between Tiberius and the throne. When Augustus thought he was dying in 23 BC, he passed his signet ring to Marcus Agrippa. The initial indications were that there would be a power struggle between Agrippa, his trusted friend, and Marcellus his son-in-law (husband of Julia) and nephew (son of his sister Octavia). But late in 23 BC Marcellus fell ill and died, strenthening Agrippa’s position to become the next Emperor. This position was strengthened further when Augustus had Agrippa divorce his wife and marry Augustus’ newly widowed daughter Julia. Three Potential Heirs The marriage produced three potential heirs for Augustus, Gaius born in 20 BC, Lucius born in 17 BC, and Agrippa Postumus born in 12 BC shortly after the death of Agrippa. Augustus realized that with his friend Agrippa dead, if he should die, his grandsons would be without a guardian. To remedy the situation, he forced Tiberius to divorce Vipsania (who was a daughter of Agrippa) and marry the again widowed Julia. The marriage took place on February 12, 11 BC. The heirs now had an additional guardian, however this wouldn’t protect them from the fate that would befall them. Lucius died 20 August 2 AD, and his brother Gaius died a year and a half later on 21 February 4 AD. Removal of a Final Rival Six days after the death of Gaius, Augustus adopted Tiberius and Agrippa Postumus who was then only 15 years old. Tiberius was now on the short list to become Emperor. Within three years, Agrippa Postumus was exiled. The reasons are unclear for his exile. Tacitus indicates that it was due to being shunned and disliked by Livia particularly since he was the only thing standing in the way of her son becoming Emperor....

Caesar Augustus

Caesar Augustus

Sep 21, 2012

63 B.C.-14 A.D. Caius Julius Cæsar Octavianus Augustus, son of Caius Octavius and Atia (Julius Cæsar’s niece), was born in 63 B.C. He was the first and greatest of the Roman emperors, in his way perhaps fully as great as his adoptive father, Julius Cæsar. The Octavian family came originally from Velitræ, in the country of the Volsci; and the branch to which Augustus belonged was rich and honorable. His father had risen to the rank of senator and prætor, but died in the prime of life, when Augustus was only four years old. Augustus was carefully educated in Rome under the guardianship of his mother and his step-father; and his talents recommended him to his great-uncle, Julius Cæsar, who adopted him as his son and heir. At the time of Cæsar’s assassination (44 B.C.), Augustus was a student under the celebrated orator Apollodorus, at Apollonia in Illyricum, whither, however, he had been sent chiefly to gain practical instruction in military affairs. He returned to Italy, and now first learning that he was his uncle’s heir, assumed the name of Julius Cæsar Octavianus. The soldiers at Brundusium saluted him as Cæsar, but he declined their offers, and entered Rome almost alone. The city was at this time divided between the republicans and the friends of Mark Antony, but the latter, by adroit manœuvres, had gained the ascendency, and enjoyed almost absolute power. At first, Augustus was haughtily treated by Antony, who refused to surrender Cæsar’s property; but after some fighting, in which Antony was worsted and forced to flee across the Alps, Augustus, who had made himself a favorite with the people and the army, obtained the consulship and carried out Cæsar’s will. He found an able advocate in Cicero, who at first had regarded him with contempt. To himself the great orator seemed to be laboring in behalf of the republic, whereas he really was only an instrument for raising Augustus to supreme power. When Antony returned from Gaul with Lepidus, Augustus threw off the republican mask, and joined them in establishing a triumvirate. He obtained Africa, Sardinia, and Sicily; Antony, Gaul; and Lepidus, Spain. Their power was soon made absolute by the...

Caligula – Caius Caesar

Caligula – Caius Caesar

Aug 31, 2012

Excerpts from The Lives of the Twelve Caesars: Appearance He was tall, of a pale complexion, ill-shaped, his neck and legs very slender, his eyes and temples hollow, his brows broad and knit, his hair thin, and the crown of the head bald. The other parts of his body were much covered with hair. On this account, it was reckoned a capital crime for any person to look down from above, as he was passing by, or so much as to name a goat. His countenance, which was naturally hideous and frightful, he purposely rendered more so, forming it before a mirror into the most horrible contortions. In the fashion of his clothes, shoes, and all the rest of his dress, he did not wear what was either national, or properly civic, or peculiar to the male sex, or appropriate to mere mortals. He often appeared abroad in a short coat of stout cloth, richly embroidered and blazing with jewels, in a tunic with sleeves, and with bracelets upon his arms; sometimes all in silks and habited like a woman; at other times in the crepidae or buskins; sometimes in the sort of shoes used by the light-armed soldiers, or in the sock used by women, and commonly with a golden beard fixed to his chin, holding in his hand a thunderbolt, a trident, or a caduceus, marks of distinction belonging to the gods only. In his temple stood a statue of gold, the exact image of himself, which was daily dressed in garments corresponding with those he wore himself. Doing the Impossible …He made a bridge, of about three miles and a half in length, from Baiae to the mole of Puteoli, collecting trading vessels from all quarters, mooring them in two rows by their anchors, and spreading earth upon them to form a viaduct, after the fashion of the Appian Way. This bridge he crossed and recrossed for two days together; the first day mounted on a horse richly caparisoned, wearing on his head a crown of oak leaves, armed with a battle-axe, a Spanish buckler and a sword, and in a cloak made of cloth of gold; the day following, in...