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Rome: ParadiseLost's Roman Forum Walking Tour

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Nov 27th, 2005, 01:47 PM
  #1
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Rome: ParadiseLost's Roman Forum Walking Tour

The Roman Forum is my favorite place on Earth and I have spent *many days* there on 8 trips searching and just wandering around.
  It is after all just a pile of old rocks but what makes it interesting is the stories that they can tell!
  Your best guide in the Roman Forum is your own IMAGINATION. Try visualizing what it looked like, not just the bldgs but the people going about their business.
  For example: Behind the Basilica Julia on the edge of the Forum there are just two ugly brick piers right in front of the modern day wc/bathrooms.
  Those brick piers once formed a marble faced arch at the beginning of a short (~100m) street. It was the 'Street of the Perfume Sellers'.
  So while waiting in line for the wc .
*Imagine* this beautiful marble-faced archway, look thru it and down that ancient street.
  It's lined on both sides with perfume shops and the owners are loudly hawking their wares to the women passing by.
  See that old rich aristocratic woman with her slaves shopping for the newest expensive imported fad fragrance. And over there that common Roman housewife who saved a few coins from the household budget looking for that bargain scent to spice up her sex life. And there, the young virgin bride-to-be shopping next to a famous concubine to the stars. And of course a few men looking for a gift for their wife, mistress or favorite slavegirl, perhaps all three for some. And the slaves of the owners and customers silent and sullen in the background who will never know such luxuries.
  You see if you know the street had perfume shops on it with alittle imagination and realistically tying-in perfume, women and sex, you can visualize it along with the actual people and events you might have seen there.

Ok, I am a terrible writer and an even worst proofreader so take that into consideration when reading this .
  Also I am taking info from many sources in my notes and throwing them together in a condensed version, so things can get jumbled-up.   
  And probably from my 'cut & paste' to posting it paragraphs will possibly run together. If you decide to print-out this walk just cut & paste it from Fodors and space them out yourself.
  I made printed notes that I took with me from websites, history & guidebooks, tv documentarys, tours, etc and even some guesses.  
 So with this condensed version I have added directions to make it into a walking tour. I tried to include major and minor tidbits that you won't find in your guidebooks or hear from a tourguide.   And often guidebooks and tourguides are wrong (urban legends), inaccurate or just give one possible version of the sites, events or people when there are others. So if I wrote something here different from what you read or heard from a tourguide, I have probably read or heard it also. But in researching these sites or events I found that often these descriptions are wrong.
  Examples like; there is no definite proof that the 'Temple of Romulus' was dedicated to Emperor Maxentius' dead son Romulus.
  Or the deep grooves on the columns of the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina was caused by Renaissance workers trying to pull them down.
 I tried to be as accurate as I could from what I have read, heard or seen but you can always find another version. *Bottomline*, I personally didn't dig-up the Forum and uncover these sites or write the history books , this info is out there in many sources, I just threw it all together and tried to choose the one (or two) I thought was the most accurate. So if I'm wrong in a few things, so be it .
  I have had these notes for a few years and I'm always adding things. And I have wanted to write a walking tour with them but time and wanting to write it properly, I just never got around to it. So I'm just throwing it out there right now, if not, I never will . I'll be adding sites to this thread as I write them, it will probably take awhile.
 
 In the 'Roman Forum Beginning' I chose one version of the Romulus and Remus myth. I believe it is very possible these 2 men actually existed because someone had to start this city. And they just became mythological figures over the years by the embellishing of the story thru the storytelling (oral history).

Below are some websites that will help you search further for info but most importantly photo and model websites so you can see these sites as they are today and what they originally looked like.

 This site is very good for historical & archaeological info. The info is from material published ~75-125yrs ago and for the most part it is very accurate but any new discoveries or historical revisions wouldn't be included.
http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/...OP*/home*.html OR http://tinyurl.com/ag6jz Use the links in the 'General Topic Areas'.
  [History of the Roman Forum]
http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/...lsen*/1/1.html *OR*
http://tinyurl.com/dkyhz
  Also *definitely* use the 'Search' at the bottom of either of those pages for info, just use the 'Search This Site' option. If a site comes up in Italian click-on the US Flag but if the flag is faded that means the site doesn't have an English translation.   The website below is basically like the 1st one above but I would recommend using the 1st one for the better word translations and notes. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin...t:1999.04.0054 *OR* http://tinyurl.com/7wgew
 Also quite alot of informative links on this website http://classics.furman.edu/~rprior/courses/RA/RAU2.html

[Forum Models] http://home.surewest.net/fifi/index50.html www.maquettes-historiques.net/P5.html

[Forum Photos]
www.sionmc.com/Rome/forum/forum.htm
http://sights.seindal.dk/sight/4_Forum_Romanum.html http://www2.siba.fi/~kkoskim//rooma/pages/MAIN.HTM www.vroma.org/images/forum_project_images/ http://wings.buffalo.edu/AandL/Maece..._contents.html

  Of course there's always www.google.com for finding info on the ancient sites, history and people. And for other photo images, drawings and diagrams of the ancient sites use Google's 'Images' search www.google.com/imghp?l=en&tab=wi&ie=UTF-8&q=
Regards, Walter
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Nov 27th, 2005, 01:59 PM
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[This is the URL for this thread]
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#1. (Part 1): THE ROMAN FORUM BEGINNINGS
Start at the 'Via dei Fori Imperiali' entrance (this is at the end of Via Cavour) to the Roman Forum standing on the sidewalk out front. Directly in front of you is the Roman Forum entrance and a small bldg with guidebooks, gifts, water and a w.c. Sold there is 'The Roman Forum' by the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma (overall an excellent guidebook) as well as their other site & museum guides.      Over your left shoulder 45° and across the street is the Fori Imperiali (Imperial Forums) Visitor Center (the bldg behind the Info booth) with info, guidebooks, gifts, *tours*, audioguides, cafe (good for a quick cheap bite, if open) and a w.c.   To your left-front @ 45° is the church 'St. Cosmas and Damian' (Santi Cosma E Damiano). To the left of the entrance is the bldg's brick wall full of clamp holes, this was where the 'Marble Plan' was attached in ancient times (~203-211AD: 'Forma Urbis Romae' aka 'Severan Marble Plan' A large very detailed map of Rome 18m/60ft wide X 13m/45 ft high, scaled at 1 to 240 on 151 marble slabs. Made under Emperor Septimius Severus and mounted on a wall of the Temple of Peace.)
This 527AD church was built using the large audience hall or library of the 'Temple of Peace' (Emperor Vespasian 75AD).   If you visit this church you can see the interior of the 'Temple of Romulus' which was used as the church's vestibule (you will see the exterior of this intact Temple in the Roman Forum).
 
 Now look to the right, far down and across the street and find the 'Column of Trajan' (you will probably have to step into the street to see it).   There was a ridge that connected the Capitoline Hill with the Quirinal Hill. Tragan's Column marks the highest height of this ridge although that point was probably North of the column in the hillside. He removed the ridge to build his Forum, Basilica, and Market.   Also the 'Wedding Cake/Typewritter' (Vittorio Emanuele II Monument 1885-1911) cut a big chunk out of the Capitoline Hill, thus destroying the ruins in that section.   Now look to your left way down the street towards the Colosseum. Mussolini removed part of a ridge called the Velia between the Palatine Hill and the Esquiline Hill to build the road and sidewalk you're now standing on.      Now turn right and walk down the sidewalk along the main street over to between the 2nd & 3rd lampost. And look into the Forum, use your guidebook map of the Forum and your imagination.   The Palatine Hill is 45° to your left and the Capitoline Hill is 45° to your right.   Between these 2 hills is a valley which is the Roman Forum. When Rome was founded in 753BC this valley was a marshy swamp with a stream running thru it. The stream came down from the hill behind you, passed beneath you, thru the Forum and out to the Tiber River.   This swampy area was unsuitable for human habitation due to diseases like Malaria.
[This is the view you will be seeing
http://www.travel-italy.com/communit...an_forum_1.jpg In the foreground is the 'Forum of Nerva' aka 'Forum Transitorium', behind that (grassy area & ruins) is the Basilica Aemilia aka Fulvia-Aemilia, Emilia, Paulli. And behind that is the 'Roman Forum Square'.
  In the far upper-left corner are the massive Palace extendions from the Palatine Hill.
  In the far-upper right corner is the edge of the Capitoline Hill. The intact bldg on the right edge is the Curia Julia (Senate Bldg). Also notice the narrow road that passes beneath you and thru that arch in the lower-right corner and over to the leftside of the Curia and into the Forum. It's called the Argiletum, it's an ancient Roman road but that section has been paved over in Medieval times. You call see an ancient section behind you and across the street (with wheel ruts in the pavement for the animal carts that used to travel along it, those ruts were designed in the pavement to keep the carts on track, even though many tourguides falsely claim that they were made by chariots], that section is the 'Forum of Nerva' also. You can also see an ancient section when you visit the Curia Julia.]
Now walk over to the sidewalk railing, there is a Forum of Nerva map/diagram there listing the sites before you. (For info on this Forum www.capitolium.org/eng/fori/nerva.htm)  
 Now look below you at a large area of *large* marble pavement slabs. The distant 2 have ancient board-games etched into them and just to the right of them you'll notice a curved underground structure (with a couple of stone blocks missing) which passes beneath the marble floor, that is the 'Cloaca Maxima' (a great drain or sewer, it's also shown on the diagram).   The marsh and stream was 1st professionally canalled (a stone lined trench bridged, covered & open) sometime after 616BC by King Tarquinius Priscus and the Roman Forum was born of this reclaimed land. With it's 1st pavement just that of beaten earth.   But it is very possible that a half-hearted attempt (a deeper ditch to allow the water to flow out easier and back-filling the marsh with dirt) was done earlier. But flooding and erosion would always be attacking this earthen ditch and carrying away their dirt backfill. A stone canal would cure that problem though.   The actual Cloaca Maxima (a stone vaulted underground sewer) that we think of today was built shortly after 300BC (the section you're looking at is from a Emperor Diocletian rebuild, ~284+AD). This sent that stream underground vs. an open canalled ditch that was bridged and covered-over in certain areas.
 Let's imagine we can go back in time to ~770's BC, using that decade for the birth of Romulus and Remus would put them between 17 & 27yrs old at the founding of Rome in 753BC. We sink thru the sidewalk and below the ruins to the level of this ancient stream. There are no buildings or dwellings, just nature as it has been for thousands of years.     We walk along the leftside the stream into the marsh that is now the Roman Forum.  There are Iron Age communites (tribes) living on the Palatine and Capitoline Hills which are natural fortresses and very easy to defend. There are also other community/tribes in Rome on the other hills and in other surrounding locations. And north of the Tiber River are the more advanced Etruscans.
  This is an excellent location except for the surrounding diseased marshes. Far from the sea so you don't have to worry about pirate raids and along a major waterway (Tiber River) which makes transportation & trading easier. And nearby is a shallow & narrow section of the Tiber allowing land trade to cross (the 1st bridge will be built there in ~642-617BC of wood, roughly where the modern Ponte Palatino bridge stands today).    Basically we're at a trade-route crossroad with a couple of natural fortresses (the Palatine & Capitoline Hill) where the inhabitants can easily defend their turf.  The banks of this Forum marsh was used as a burial ground for these hilltop communities in the 10th-9thC BC. And later only for children in the 8th-7thC BC. [It seems that around the founding of Rome mid-8thC (753BC) adults were no longer buried here, just children.]
But this watery marsh was also used for a few human sacifices! Or was this just their form of capital punishment? The sacificed bodies of a man and woman (7thC BC) thrown into this marsh were found beneath the Forum Sq. and are now in the Forum Museum (Antiquarium Forense, in the last room with a large lead container in the center). Also in the Forum Sq. a radar sounding was done. And 6m below groundlevel are the bodies of a man, woman and child bound together who were thrown into this marsh. Criminals?, traitors?, heretics?, sacifices?, POWs? We now leave this ancient marsh and walk along the left bank of the stream towards the Tiber River and out of the Forum. This stream follows what is today labeled (in guidebooks) the 'Vicus Tucus' (Street of the Etruscans) which passes between the Basilica Julia and the Temple of the Castores (Castor & Pollux).
After we pass by the Palatine Hill (on our left) we turn around and look up the slope of the Palatine Hill's SW corner which is facing a valley (one day this valley will become the Circus Maximus) and the Aventine Hill.   
[OK there are many versions of Romulus' mythological life from birth to death, I mention some and omit others. IMO he probably existed. Why not?, after all somebody had to be the 1st King of Rome, so why not someone named Romulus. And we know the names of the other kings that directly followed him! So a real life famous/hero/founder human made mythological over the years isn't a far stretch.]   On this Palatine slope there is a cave (later named the Lupercal & highly revered by the Romans) inhabited by a female wolf (she-wolf). But today she is out hunting along the nearby flooded banks of the Tiber.   She cautiously approaches a basket that has washed-up on the bank. There are cries and movement within the basket along with the scent of humans. The she-wolf looks inside and sees two infant twin boys.   Ok, quickly how they got there. There is a city called Alba Longa, founded by the decendents of the Battle of Troy. The King's brother pulls a coup and takes over.
  The king's daughter (his niece) is forced to become a Vestal Virgin so that no future heirs to the rightful throne will show up one day, her name is Rhea Silva.
  Later she has a fling with the God Mars and becomes pregnant (well that's her story and she's sticking with it.   She gives birth to twin boys and then is burned alive for breaking the Vestal's vow of chastity (later Vestals will be buried alive instead) OR she is allowed to live but again as a Vestal.
  The King orders the twins to be drowned in the Tiber River. The man on this mission casts them adrift in a basket instead and heads back home, mission accomplished or so he thinks! Far downstream the basket becomes entangled on the riverbank. Our She-wolf finds it and takes the basket back to her cave and suckles the infant twins with her milk.     But wait it gets better. A Woodpecker named Picus feeds them like birds feed their young, solid food turned into baby food by the mother's regurgitation.
 One day a shepherd named Faustulus finds the twins and brings them home (atop the Palatine Hill). Where he and his wife (Acca Larenzia) raise them as their own and call them Romulus and Remus.     The twins later as young men find out who they really are and head back to Alba Longa to set things right OR Remus is captured by his Great-Uncle King and Romulus invades and wins.   Either way they dethrone and kill their great-uncle and put the rightful king (their grandfather) back in charge. And everyone lives happily ever after and the brothers ride off into the sunset.
They get home decide to build a new city. Romulus wants the city founded on the Palatine Hill but Remus prefers the Aventine Hill.   They decide the only way to settle on the location is to do an Augury (a Heavenly/Godly sign in the form of a flight of birds).   At dawn Remus is atop the Aventine and Romulus is on the Palatine searching the heavens. Remus sees 6 vultures and goes running over to the Palatine to tell his brother that "I won".   But before he gets there Romulus sees 12 vultures. And a typical brotherly argument ensues, "I saw mine 1st" ... "Yea, but I saw more than you" ...1ST...MORE...1ST...MORE!!! Romulus decides to settle it the way power struggles are usually settled...by killing the opposition! *OR* later while Romulus is building a wall around the Palatine Hill for his new city. His brother laughs at how low the walls are and that they wouldn't stop anyone. He then leaps over the wall and Romulus kills him in a fit of rage.    Now Romulus is 'King of the Hill' and his newly formed city called Rome is founded on April 21, 753BC.   
  Great story! But this is probably more closer to the truth. Romulus and Remus were possibly Etruscans possibly born of outcast parents/grandparents who were either exiled or left on their own. Or perhaps they themselves were exiled either by force or choice, with the Tiber River as a boundary seperating them from the Etruscans.   Very unlikely that they were brothers, more likely that they were equals. Each having his own band of lowlife outlaws.   With Remus' gang on the Aventine Hill and Romulus' gang on the Palatine Hill.   Maybe they were once united (like brothers?) and had a falling-out or were always at odds with one another. Either way Romulus won with Remus' murder and was now the sole outlaw leader.  Raised by a She-Wolf? Sure why not? It's very possible! A She-Wolf is slang for prostitute.   Romulus (and possibly Remus if they were really brothers) could have been born of Faustulus' wife who was a prostitute. Remember this is an fringe society.   So years down the road how would the Romans want their Founding and their 1st King's history too read?   Born of Etruscan outcasts whose mother was a prostitute and whose father was??? But lets say the shepherd Faustulus was Romulus' father, then his Dad was his Mom's pimp!
  Hardly a blue-blood lineage.
  And to top it off he grows-up to be the leader of a bunch low-life social outcasts!!!
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Nov 27th, 2005, 02:14 PM
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#1. (Part 2) So they bring in a PR firm and they come up with this story. Honorable ancestors from ancient Troy, Grandpa's a King, Mom's a Princess and Dad...why he's the God Mars of course.   Romulus opens his city to everyone and anyone in order to populate it (strength & safety in numbers). But what he gets are criminals, murderers, outcasts, runaway slaves, etc, not exactly the "cream of the crop".   Romulus' newly founded city is made-up almost entirely of men! I'm sure they're having a ball, raising hell, gettin' drunk, fightin', livin' like pigs and peeing everywhere and on everything . You know, just basic male behaviour that we surpress.   Rome's just a like an American wild-west cowboy frontier town. But ask any US historian "Who really tamed the Wild West".   And Romulus' Rome severely lacks them...Women!
  But the Sabines who live on the Quirinal Hill and beyond have unmarried virgin daughters!   Romulus sends out emissaries to the Sabines and to the other local tribes. Asking if they can marry their daughters.   But they don't even want to hear about it from these misfits and social outcasts, their answer is "NO WAY".      Romulus' newly founded city is doomed to die without children to re-populate it and their beds are very lonely and cold every night.   So he and the other *young* men decide they want women and they want women NOW! And "NO", just isn't an option.    Romulus gets a PR firm and starts promoting the upcoming "Festival of Consualia" that he and the boys will be throwing.   He tells the Sabines to "come on over and bring the wife and kids". There will be a big feast, plenty of wine and games, fun for the entire family.   He opens the gates of the Palatine to his new friends and feasting begins. The Sabine men are alittle leary at first but later start having a good time when the wine starts flowing.   Later they all go down to the valley (Circus Maximus) to watch the games (horse races)...and drink some more wine!   Romulus waits for the opportune time and gives a signal, suddenly his (sober) men grab-up all the virgins and some of the wives and start running back to the Palatine. A rear guard holds off the drunken Sabines and once they are thru the gate the Sabines are locked out.   The Sabines are 'fit to be tied' and they want their women back and vengence. They stagger home (probably gettin' an ear full from the remaining wives all the way back to sober-up and prepare for war.   The abducted maidens are carried kicking and screaming to their future husband's huts. [It's the custom to this very day for the bride, not of herself to pass her husband's threshold, but to be lifted over, in memory of the Sabine Virgins who were carried in by violence, and did not go in of their own will]
   Now they've lost their virginity and many will become pregnant and this puts these women in awkward position. Would their tribe and future husbands accept these events if rescued? Would they and their half-Roman children become social outcasts? Would their children be killed?    Romulus goes around to each one and sweet talks them. "Sorry, what could we do your parents wouldn't allow us to marry you, we will have weddings for you and you will share your husbands property and have civil rights and your children will be born Freeman". Then the 'big line', "When your husband (abductor) first saw you, he was just so overcome with your beauty and his passion for you he just couldn't help himself".    
  Well either the women buy-it or just finally resign themselves to the fact that they are now the wives of these men.   Remember their life probably wouldn't be any better even if they were still with their own tribe (arraigned marriages, 3rd class citizens, husbands, fathers, brothers with absolute rule over them, etc).    But the new in-laws are still pretty %#&!^@-off and war is on their agenda, they battle back and forth over *quite* some time.  But the Sabines are in a bad military position to attack. The Palatine Hill is fortified with walls and gates which is hard enough too try and storm. Add to that the Romans also have a fortress/citadel on the Capitoline Hill. Attack either one and the Romans can send reinforcements to attack their rear or flank. The Sabines must take out the Capitoline Citadel to even hope for a victory!   The Commander of the Citadel is Spurius Tarpeius and he has a daughter named Tarpea. One day she leaves the Citadel to fetch water for a religious ceremony. The Sabine King named Tatius approaches her and offers her any reward if she will just open the Citadel's Gate.    She says to Tatius "Give to me what your warriors wear on their left arms and I will open the gate". [Sabine warriors wear gold armlets and jeweled rings on their left shield arm.]   Later she opens the gate and the Sabines storm and capture the Citadel. The Sabines true to their word give her what they wear on their left arms, their shields! Which they pile on top of her until she is crushed to death.   [She was buried on the southern part of the Capitoline but her body was moved years later when the Temple of Jupitor was built there. The Tarpeian Rock on the Capitoline (SE corner) was named after her, it's where traitors were thrown off to their deaths.]    Romulus has no choice now and challenges the Sabines to battle in the Forum valley which had flooded a few days before and is now dangerously muddy.  With each side on either side of the marsh the attack begins. A Sabine Knight named Curtius leads the charge but his horse gets stuck in the muddy marsh. It's a becomes a very famous and important site in the Forum from that time to the present day, the 'Lacus Curtius' (Lake of Curtius)...where some guy got stuck!...in the mud!...with his horse!...go figure!. They clash back and forth in little skirmishes across the marsh. Romulus gets hit in the head with a stone and is briefly knocked-out. His men panic upon seeing their leader down (dead?) and retreat back towards the safety of the Palatine.   Romulus quickly comes-too and runs to his men, he implores them to return to the battle but too no avail. He cannot stop their panic-driven retreat.   Romulus raises his hands to heaven and begs the God Jupitor for help. Suddenly his men stop as if their limbs were bound and they feel the shame of running from the battle before their King. [Romulus will later mark this site with the 'Altar of Jupitor Stator' (Stayer)].   Romulus then shouts "Back Romans! Jupitor bids you to stand and renew the battle". His men turn and bravely charge back into the valley. The battle is now ready to go major and only one side will be victorious.  
   But for one group it's a no-win situation, the Roman-Sabine wives. They'll probably lose at least one person in their lives if not more...either a husband, father, brother, relative or friend in the battle.      The women march down from the Palatine dressed as brides and mothers (it's been a while ~2yrs, many have children) and run between the two sides in the midst of their battle [in the area of the Regia/Temple of Julius Caesar]. They plead with their fathers on one side and their husbands on the other. "Better for us to perish than live without one or the other of you, as widows or as orphans".    The battle ceases and then silence as the men are moved by their pleas. The Generals on both sides meet and make peace, the Romans and the Sabines merge together as one people with the power shared between two Kings.   Rome just took it's 1st baby step in expanding it's Empire. The Roman Forum now has it's first site, the Comitius (from the verb comire, in Latin it means 'meet' and it's where the warring Generals make their peace). It becomes known as the Comitium and it will be where the people and later the Senators will hold outdoor public meetings. [It's the area directly in front of and beneath the Curia Julia (Senate bldg), 45deg to your right, the tall intact brick bldg.]   So Romulus and the Sabine Tatius become co-ruling Kings and get along very well for ~5yrs. Until some Sabines attempt to rob Ambassadors that they just were supposed to meet and escort on the road. The robbery goes badly and they kill the ambassadors...opps.   Romulus wants them brought to justice but Tatius does nothing for they are his friends and relatives.   Romulus and Tatius quarrel about it but it's not enough too fight over and end the peace and unification.
  One day they are both out doing a political ribbon-cutting, actually a sacrifice, when relatives of the slain ambassadors attack and kill Tatius.
  Romulus is left alone because he had sought justice. Romulus seeks no revenge on them (it does after all put him in the #1 spot and has Tatius buried on the Aventine Hill.
  Romulus rules on for another 33yrs until one day a great thunder & wind storm came down from heaven, enveloped him and carried him off to heaven to be with his father Mars. He is now a God himself, never to be seen again.
  Well that's the miracle the Senators are trying to sell to the people but they aren't buying it and they love Romulus.   It's starting to look grim for the Senators long term health until a man deeply trusted by the people named Proculus Julius comes forward and says.   Why just this morning Romulus descended from heaven and appeared before me and said. "Go and tell the Romans that it is the will of heaven that my Rome should be the head of the World". The people buy it, don't they always.
  The Senators know the truth, a couple of days earlier Romulus was with them by the Volcanal (an outdoor shrine/altar dedicated to Vulcan, which now lies beneath the Niger Lapis in front of the Curia) when they killed him! Possibly he was then dismembered and the pieces hidden beneath the senator's clothing so they could dispose of his body elsewhere without detection, it's never found.   Romulus was killed because of his despotic exploitation of power. So the 1st ruler (king) of Rome is murdered so another ruler can take his place...I see a trend starting here.
  Rome will have more Kings until the last is overthrown which ends the Regal Period.
The Republic is founded in 509BC and lasts until 27BC. With Julius Caesar's death in 44BC and then years of Civil War this helped usher in the Imperial Age of the Emperors beginning with Augustus.   Constantine will become Emperor in 312AD and the 1st semi-Christian ruler of Rome.   The Empire has been declining for years but gets a real shove on August 24, 410AD when the Visigoths sack Rome. Many historians (not all) believe that this date was the beginning of the 'Fall of the Roman Empire'. Seeing that Rome hadn't been sacked in 800yrs in seems a good call to me .
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Nov 27th, 2005, 02:20 PM
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#2. BASILICA AEMILIA (aka Emilia, Fulvia-Aemilia, *Paulli*-This was it's common name after 54BC) [Compass points of reference I will use in the Forum: The sidewalk we are on now is North
(N) so the opposite side is South (S), the Capitoline Hill is West
(W) and the other end by the Colosseum is East (E). And of course (NE) will be Northeast, (SW) Southwest, etc.]
Ok, now leave the Via d. Fori Imperiali sidewalk and walk thru the Roman Forum entrance gate and down the ramp.
You are leaving the ground level of modern Rome and walking down into history which was buried for many centuries.   Halfway down the ramp stop and look (W)
http://wings.buffalo.edu/AandL/Maece.../ac822606.html . That is the Basilica Aemila, it's the only basilica from the Republican Period in the Forum to have survived. Others were obliterated by later constructions.   
Basilicas were public bldgs used for conducting business (like merchants meeting businessmen) and law courts.
At the far (W) end beneath the protective metal roof are the remains of the original 179BC Basilica.   Built in 179BC as the Basilica Fulvia-Aemilia by the Censors "Marcus *Fulvius* Nobilior" & Marcus "Aemilius* Lepidus. Later restored several times by the Aemilia family, it took on their family name in their honor.   A famous restoration was in 78BC by another Marcus Aemilius Lepidus who was Consul that year. He built the facade facing the Forum and the interior colonnade. The column stumps in the above photo are the remains of these beautiful imported columns from Asia Minor (Turkey).   The facade facing the Forum was adored with shields with portraits of his ancestors on them (imagines clipeatae).  Another major restoration financed by Julius Caesar was begun and finished by Augustus in 54BC-34BC and the "Tabernae Novae" (commercial shops, along the S side's facade) was added.   In ~14BC the Basilica and the Tabernae Novae were destroyed by fire (the beautiful domestic and imported marble floor is from this rebuilding). Both were rebuilt by Augustus and the 'Portius of Gaius and Lucius' was added, it was dedicated 2BC.   In 22AD it is again restored (fire?) under Tiberius. It was then one of the most beautiful buildings in the Roman World according to Pliny and the only basilica (although rebuilt several times) of it's type to survive from the Republican Period in the Forum.   More fires lay in it's future both accidental and deliberate by invading armys. Then a major earthquake in 847AD. This earthquake finally ended any use of the Medieval rebuilt sections of this bldg and the Tabernae's back brick wall finally collapsed.
  It was abandoned and lay in ruin until the Renaissance when it was stripped for building materials.
  For timekeeping the Romans used sundials, which aren't much good when it's cloudly. So in 159BC the Censor P. Scipio Nasica installed a public Clepsydra or water clock in the Basilica. This clock kept track of the hours both during the day and at night. It doesn't sound like a big deal to us but they now have an official time 24/7 year-round.
   To me what is most interesting about this site is that history has left a visible timestamp regarding the Fall of the Roman Empire. Fused coins on the floor of the Basilica.   Numerous intact coins from that era (pre-410AD) were found when this eastern end was excavated (this section was never rebuilt after it was torched in the 410AD sacking of Rome and lay buried until 100+yrs ago).
Ok here's what happened the day the coins were fused into the pavement. The Empire was already in it's decline but on August 24, 410AD, it was given a shove.
  "The city which had taken the whole World was itself taken;" St. Jerome 412AD.
  Alaric and his Visigoth Army have laid seige on Rome for 18 months, the city is staving and there are rumors of cannibalism.   Alaric's army is camped in the present day Villa Borghese Park when someone opened the Salaria Gate (now called the Porta Pinciana at the end of the Via Veneto). The gate was possibily opened by slaves who were spies for Alaric or by servants of a noblewoman (to perhaps end the seige?/reward?/spy?).
  The 3 day sacking of Rome has begun. The Visigoths are also Christians like the Romans so as far as sackings go, there have been alot worst in history. Loot is what they are most interested rather than murder and rape.
  I assume the common foot soldier was only interested in gold and silver coins and jewelry as loot, easy to carry during a sacking and perhaps keep on his person afterwards as his share?      In the alleged words of the American bank robber Willie Horton when asked why he robbed banks said "Because that's where the money is." If I was a Visigoth I'd be heading straight to the Forum "because that's where the money is" [he never said this, a reporter made it up].   How about a guess regarding the fused coins. The rich bankers/moneychangers and shopkeepers from the connecting Tabernae Novae ran into the Basilica with their money dropping some coins in their haste while seeking shelter or escape when the Visigoths stormed into the Forum without warning.  Then perhaps then they were robbed at swordpoint by the Visigoths and in the chaos some coins were dropped.   The Basilica like many other bldgs was then put to the torch, the blazing wooden roof collapsed and fused *some* coins into the marble floor. *Some* because not all coins would fuse/melt being different metals but mainly how the blazing wooden roof landed on the floor. If say a blazing large beam landed flat on the floor with coins beneath it, it wouldn't burn underneath. But if it fell and remained a few inches above the floor, it would still burn and create a furnace-like temperature in that small section.   
To see these fused coin impressions go down the ramp and over by that 1st column stump in the photo and follow these directions. http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34592268 But before you go and leave this ramp look to the *far right*. On top of that wall in that NE corner of the Basilica are 2 plaster casts which was once part of a 185m frieze that adorned the central aisle's architrave this bldg in Sulla's time (original in the Forum Museum-Antiquarium but inaccessable to public). The one on the left depicts part of a complex scene that showed the "Rape of the Sabine Women".  And the one on the right shows the murder of Tarpea. Remember the young woman who promised to open the city gate for the enemy Sabines in exchange for the ornaments they wore on their left arms. They kept their promise and piled their shields that they carried on their left arm on top of her until she was crushed.
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Nov 27th, 2005, 02:26 PM
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#3. PORTICO OF GAIUS & LUCIUS CAESAR
Walk down to the bottom of the ramp and stand in that little fenced section on the right, this will get ya out of the way of other people.   In front of you facing South is a section of the Via Sacra and on the other side of that is the Temple of Julius Caesar.   Now turn right facing West: Looking down the length of the the section between the Via Sacra and the Basilica Fulvia-Aemila.     Later as you walk down the Via Sacra study this area. You will see steps (3-4 steps from the Via Sacra), column remains, bases, corinthian capitals and some excellent decorative remains of this bldg complex (staircases were at each end). The Portico, Tabernae and the Basilica were all connected together and basically the same bldg. And for awhile ranked as one of the most magnificent bldgs in the Roman world.  This is how you should picture this: Along the Via Sacra were a few steps where you entered a beautiful 2-story arched & columned porticus called the PORTICO OF GAIUS AND LUCIUS CAESAR (2BC).   And inside that was the TABERNAE NOVA (commerical shops-on both floors). It's that long brickwall with remains of the sidewalls still in place.  There were always shops in that area but more upscale 2000yrs ago.
  The 1st shops were built during the reign of King Tarquinius Priscus (616-579BC), they were just food shops (vegetables, meat, fish etc) back then. Later when the Forum became more upscale they were called the 'Tabernae Argentariae'. The Argentarii were money-changers or bankers and silversmiths/jewelers. Hannibal while encamped outside Rome put these rich shops up to auction but he never succeeded in entering Rome.   After an even later rebuild because of a fire they were called the 'Tabernae Novae' which I believe refers to them being on the sunny side of the Forum (Sub Novis), the shops on the otherside of the Forum where the Basilica Julia now stands was the shady side (Sub Veteribus).   Hopefully these shops were insured because on March 18, 44BC. Because they were looted for tables, chairs or anything that would burn. This material was then piled-up across the street and became Julius Caesar's funeral pyre.  
 This area was open to the Basilica and you can see a door/archway still intact, along with 2 other openings minus the archway farther down. These large 3 doors main purpose was to allow air to flow into the Basilica during the summer's brutal heat, being a passageway was just an added benefit.   
The 3 standing columns on the east end were from a rebuilding after the 410AD fire (these 3 red granite columns were from a group of 16 and were just re-erected there and are not in their original location).   Part of the Basilica and Porticus were rebuilt over in the 6C by a large bldg but the great earthquake 847AD destroyed it.
  Also in this SE corner where you are standing you will notice some ruins that look out of place (a couple {down} stairs, a room, etc. These are the remains of a small Medieval bldg that occupied this corner of the Portico in later years.
Still standing at the bottom of the ramp on your right is what is known as 'The Large Dedicatory Inscription', ya can't miss it.   This dedication is to Lucius Caesar. The inscription and fragments of another similar inscription dedicated to Gaius Caesar probably come from the Parthian Arch which was rededicated (and renamed?) to the two brothers after their death.   Poor Gaius and Lucius once grandpa died (Emperor Augustus) they would have ruled the Roman Empire at it's peak but Augustus outlived them both.
The Parthian Arch spanned the Via Sacra between this Portico and the Temple of Divus Julius. If you look across the Via Sacra to the Temple of Julius Caesar and to the left of the opening in the center of the temple, on the ground you will see the scant remains of a foundation (where the floodlight is). This was very likely the foundation for this triple arch.   The arch was originally erected (19BC) to celebrate Augustus' recovery of the army standards that had been lost to the Parthians by Crassus in 55BC.
  LUCIUS LULIUS CAESAR (17 BC - 2 AD) The son of Agrippa and Julia, and grandson of Augustus. Augustus adopted Lucius and his brother Gaius Caesar. At 15 he was admitted to the senate and given the title of Princeps Juventutis (his brother held this title before him). In 2 AD in Massalia (Marseilles, France) on his way to Spain he died of disease. Leaving his brother Gaius as heir to the Empire, who surprisingly enough for ancient Rome had nothing to do with his death .   GAIUS LULIUS CAESAR (20 BC - 4 AD) At 15 he was admitted to the senate and given the Consulship for 1AD and also the title of Princeps Juventutis. After being Consul he went to Parthia with pro-Consular powers. Here he met the Parthian king, appointed a client king in Armenia and and suppressed a revolt there. He was seriously wounded in a siege and died eighteen months later on his way back to Rome. With both Gaius and Lucius dead Augustus was without a male bloodline heir, so he was *forced* to adopt his stepson Tiberius (Augustus' 2nd wife Livia's son).   
If the brothers had lived the line of heirs would have gone a completely different route and we would have never really heard of Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero and those that followed after them. Think about this as a 'What If'! Without Nero...no Golden House...no later Colosseum by Vespasian...no Great Fire in 64AD due to 50yrs of very different events happening and different people being born & dying...no Christian persecution by Nero...no crucifixon of St. Peter in the Circus of Nero...no St. Peter's Basilica...no Vatican...What path would Christianity have taken? You and I would not be here right now, the events would have been far too major and World history would have taken a completely different course.
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Nov 27th, 2005, 02:32 PM
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#4. SHRINE OF VENUS CLOACINA
Ok now turn right and walk down the Via Sacra towards the 'Arch of Septimius Severus'.
  About 3/4 of the way down the 'Portico of Gaius and Lucius' just on the otherside of the short fence you will come across a marble circle ring (2.4m diameter) flush with the ground with a small stone plaque (in Italian) alongside it.
This Shrine marks the spot where the 'Cloaca Maxima' (Great Drain/Sewer) enters the Roman Forum.
  Romans even in Julius Caesar's day didn't know the real origins or actual purpose of this shrine.
  Traditionally (legend, myth) it goes back to Romulus' co-ruling King 'Titus Tatius' founding this cult and shrine.   According to Livy, Cloacina was one of the titles of Venus. This name comes from the verb "cluere" (to purify or cleanse). The myth of the foundation of her shrine is related to the Roman-Sabine War.   Pliny: At the time of the foundation of Rome myrtles (evergreen shrub, nice aroma) grew here. Before going into battle because of the Rape of the Sabine Women both sides laid down their arms and purfied themselves with the myrtle. At that time a river/stream flowed thru the Forum which marked the boundary between these two warring peoples.   Centuries later a coin seems to show one statue in the shrine holding a *myrtle* branch and the other a sword.   So it seems that this myth or fact about this shrine does go back to Romulus' time (i.e. Myrtle Branch).   But they are fairly certain that originally it does go back to at least the 1st phase of the 'Cloacina Maxima' open canal (early 600BC?). When this shrine was dedicated simply to 'Cloacina' (Sacrum Cloacina) which was the divinty of the 'Cloaca' as in 'Cloaca Maxima'.   Over time the shrine somehow became identified with Venus and called 'Venus Cloacina'.
  It was an open-air circular shrine with 2 female cult statues (Venus and Cloacina) standing atop it enclosed by a short metal balustrade (fence).
  It rests directly over the stone vaulted 'Cloaca Maxima' in 8 layers of stone. The 1st layers were to probably bring it up to groundlevel when the Cloaca Maxima
was built, the other layers were to keep it at groundlevel as the Forum level rose due to over-paving the Forum Sq., the Via Sacra and bldgs being rebuilt over earlier ones (The marble ring, the Forum Sq. and the section of the Via Sacra you are standing on dates to Augustus' era 2000yrs ago).
  The nearby plaque (in Italian) tells the story of a Father's honor killing of his daughter at this location in 451BC. I have written a trip-report of this event and posted it here http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34661652
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Nov 27th, 2005, 09:05 PM
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Walter, this is great...I think I mentioned a couple of months ago on a post that I wanted you for my guide when I went to Rome in Sept! I did take a tour of the Forum and thought of you when the guide talked about the "board games," as I had your previous post on those. I'm keeping this for my next trip to Rome, when I hope I'll be able to follow your tour. Thanks.
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Nov 28th, 2005, 11:30 PM
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Walter--

Your erudition, as always, is impressive!
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Dec 11th, 2005, 05:34 AM
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Thanks .
#5. TEMPLE OF JANUS
  Ok, still standing in front of the 'Shrine of Venus Cloacina' look to your left, see that small group of small trees alongside the Via Sacra you're standing on (~20m away on the same side of the Via Sacra as the Shrine of Venus Cloacina-it's the very western end of the Portico of Gaius and Lucius).
  Walk-over to it. Beneath the tree is a small modern-day custodian/guard shack, this shack was an ancient small brick bldg adapted/rebuilt into this custodian hide-out .   This bldg is presumed in some guides/maps to be the 'Temple of Janus', but it is *not* this Temple.
  This brick shack and nearby brick remains were part of a unknown larger structure built over and in front of this end of the Portico's steps in the late-2C or 3C AD.
  Actually no trace of this Janus Temple has ever been found. But step over to the left and look towards the Curia Julia (that big intact brick bldg), on the rightside of the Curia is the street called the Argiletum (remember the street I mentioned when we were on the sidewalk outside the Forum). And to the right of that street is the Western end of the Basilica Aemilia.
 The Temple was in that area or just possibly slightly beyond in the Forum of Nerva. Different sources have it moving around in that area over the years due to building projects like the early Basilica Aemilia (179BC), Curia Julia (moved during the 94AD reconstruction and possibly now 4-headed looking out to the 4 corners of the World), Forum of Nerva (97AD) and in 193AD moved to in *front* of the Curia as a smaller but a totally bronze shrine. Another source said it was always in the exact same location.
  Ok now if you're interested in this site that you can't see or even know where it once was even located, have a seat on that laid-down column in the shade alongside the custodian's shack and read on .   But before you sit down look into the fenced-off area behind the Custodian Shack. You will see a set of columns (8) laid side-by-side, some/all were once honorary columns placed on top to the Rostra, which we will get to later.
  There were 5 columns atop the Rostra, a taller one in the center and two shorter ones on each side. They were 'Rose-Pink Aswan' and placed in this area during early excavations, so look for identical sized rose-pink columns *in this general* area.
  This is an early photo (before the custodian shack was built and the trees planted) showing the brick remains basically 2 walls of the so-called Temple and the columns are to the right. http://www.unf.edu/classes/freshmanc...s/Rom-for1.jpg
 Ok, it probably wasn't an actual Temple, it was most likely a Shrine (Sacellum) and usually called 'Janus Geminus'. Geminus refered to Janus' 2 faces, like in this marble statue
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...us-Vatican.JPG   Janus was the Roman God of Doors and Beginnings. WOW big deal right?...can't even find his Shrine and now ya tell me he's a Door God  !!!   Think of the doors as passageways to the Gods. Whatever God you pray too, you call upon Janus first and offer a libation to him to open the Door so your prayers can get thru. He was also called upon before making a sacrifice.
  He's also considered the gatekeeper of Heaven and Hell. He was also called 'Divom Deus' which is a very ancient Latin and means 'The God's God' and his image has been found on some very ancient coins plus ancient lists of Gods put him right up there by the top. So this God have been around for quite a while.
  But once again by the time of the Late-Republic/Early Imperial Age (~2000yrs ago) the actual origin of this God was lost. But he still has his major job besides being a doorman and that is keeping War confined within his Shrine during the rare times of peace.   Janus because he is a very early Roman-age God would have had a wooden Shrine/Temple but his statue was of bronze.      One unlikely legend is that during the Roman-Sabine Wars when the Sabines under Titus Tatius (later co-ruler/king with Romulus) were winning, Janus unleashed a flood of hot water from his Shrine driving back the Sabines. So the Shrine pre-dates the founding of Rome.  Another version of this story is the shrine was built later to Janus for his intervention in this battle. I assume just after the founding of Rome (753BC).   The legend I like is; After the Roman-Sabine War when Romulus and Tatius made peace and combined their two tribes as one. These two Kings built this Shrine to mark this tribal union.   I like this version because: A two headed God, one facing Romulus' Romans on the Palatine Hill and the other facing Tatius' Sabines on the Quirinal Hill? Also each end of the shrine has it's own door, so there is not a front or back of this shrine, each entrance is equal.   And the final legend is that it was built by the 2nd King of Rome (Numa Pompilius) sometime after 715BC. It was a Janus War/Peace Shrine, the doors would be left open in time of war and closed in time of peace. This door custom lasted thru-out it's existance as a double-doored shrine.   And after ~470 years of so, they finally got to shut the doors , in 235BC after the First Punic War. And then a couple of centuries later when Augustus kicks Antony and Cleopatra's butts back to Egypt after the 'Battle of Actium' in 30BC.
  Augustus gets to close the doors a couple of more times during his reign also.
  Of course long before this time the Shrine is not longer wooden but is built of stone blocks with large bronze grates for windows/walls and 2 sets of large double bronze doors. Plus it is also possible that the exposed stone was clad in bronze.
It's said that the original ancient bronze statue is still within the shrine. Which BTW had it hands & fingers some how arraigned to make the number 355 which was the number of days in the ancient Roman calendar. After Julius Ceasar reformed the calender they were changed to reflect the number 365. He also holds a key in one hand (Key: God of Doors) and a staff in the other (Staff: authority and being a guide) .    Nero put this Shrine on a coin showing that he closed the doors during his reign but this was more PR than truth (unresolved Parthian War). http://www.vroma.org/images/mcmanus_.../nerojanus.jpg   There was another set of double doors at the other end, which when both sets were open would make this shrine like a passageway. They also believe this shrine didn't have a roof.
  That is a wreath over the door and the coin inscription PACE P R TERRA MARIQ PARTA IANVM CLVSIT means "The Peace of the Roman People having been established on Land and Sea, he closed Janus", "he" being Nero.
  The doors were reopened a few years later for the 66AD Jewish War.   Back to Emperor Augustus: Augustus revitalized the popularity in this Shrine, he after-all did get to shut the doors 3x during his reign and as a PR hound he would put today's politicians too shame .   And the poet Virgil even helped him invent a new tradition/ritual for this Shrine.
    Using the Consul (Senate President) to open and close the Shrine's doors because the Consul always left the Senate by way of the Argiletum and passed right by this Shrine.  "There are twin Gates of War, for by that name men call them and they are hallowed by men's awe and the dread presence of heartless Mars. A hundred bars of bronze and iron's tough, everlasting strength, close them, and Janus, never moving from that threshold, is their guard. When the senators have irrevocably decided for battle, the consul himself, a figure conspicuous in Quirine Toga of State and Gabine Cincture, unbolts these gates, and their hinge-posts groan, it is he who calls the fighting forth, then the rest of their manhood follows, and the bronze horns, in hoarse assent, add their breath". [Later he writes about closing the doors] "The terrible iron-constricted Gates of War shall shut and safe within them shall stay the godless and ghastly Lust of Blood, propped on his pitiless piled armory, and still roaring from gory mouth, but held fast by a hundred chains of bronze knotted behind his back".      So *everything* points too the gates being shut to keep War in during peace-time. But oddly Ovis and Horace seemingly claim that the gates were closed to keep Peace in?
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Dec 18th, 2005, 02:12 PM
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#6. COMITIUM AREA
Now walk over to the 'Niger Lapis' or 'Black Stone'. It's that small fenced-in area (3m x 4m) in front of the Curia and the big Arch and alongside the Via Sacra.
  Peak down the closed-off stairs to the area beneath the 'Niger Lapis'. That is the 'Volcanal', it was an open-air 'Shrine to Vulcan' which we'll get to.
  Ok now stand on the rightside of the fenced-off 'Niger Lapis' facing the Curia Julia. Notice that the Curia was built at a slight angle so that it is directly facing the Niger Lapis/Volcanal and not the Forum Square.
Now there is nothing remaining of the Comitium at this level, so we have to go back in time and sink down to the level of the Volcanal. The Forum is a marsh again and this is dry flat ground slightly higher than the marsh.   You are now standing exactly where Rome began it's 1st expansion by making peace and merging with the Sabines after the Rape of the Sabine Women battle. And this is where they met. Comitium is from the Latin verb 'comire' which means 'meet'.
 Picture this while looking to the left of the Curia at that church. The 1st Comitium was like a US football field but more square than rectangular, the sides are ~91m/300ft and you are standing at the goalpost [ . ] at the southern end.
  Think of it as a Town Square/Common where perhaps in the very beginning the male elders (heads of families) would meet and decide on public policy.   Later Rome is divided into many districts called Curiae and representatives from each one assemble in the Comitium (large scale public voting takes place in the Forum). But they are still under a King's rule until 509BC.
 
 This outdoor rectangular/square Comitium is a consecrated or sacred area founded by a priest's Augury. Its 4 sides face the 'Four Cardinal Points of Heaven' and its also marked off by ritual pits (21 have been found, called 'Pozzi Rituali' and covered by stone slabs).
  Later the 3rd Regal King (Tullus Hostilius ~673BC) puts a screen or fence around the Comitium.  Tullus Hostilius also enlarges an earlier temple and makes it into the 1st Curia (Senate bldg) and it was called the Curia Hostilia after him. Politicians behind closed doors...nothing good can come of that. But now they can have outdoor and indoor meetings regardless of the weather. The remains of this Curia are located beneath that church. It lasted although rebuilt a few times until 52BC when a Mob had a funeral riot over the murder of Clodius. They grabbed everything wooden in the area and built a funeral pyre for Clodius and the Curia Hostilia and other nearby bldgs went up in flames, either accidental but probably on purpose.   This Curia that burnt down in 52BC was actually called the 'Curia Cornelia'. The 'Curia Hostilia' stood for centuries but was too small for the 600 Senators.
  So ~80BC Sulla torn it down and built a Curia twice the size. After it was burnt down a descendant of Sulla (Faustus Sulla) rebuilt it.
  But just a few years later Julius Ceasar built his Curia Julia and turned Sulla's Curia into the 'Temple of Felicitas'.   So it's usually just refered too as the Curia Hostilia because the Curia Cornelia was so short-lived (30+yrs vs Centuries) and occupied the same location.
[The Basilica Porcia (shown in Photo 2 below) was the 1st basilica built in Rome. It was built by Cato in 184BC for judicial and business purposes. It was also burnt down with the Curia and was likely never rebuilt as it is never mentioned again after 52BC.   Also the 'Senaculum' shown in that photo was just an unofficial outdoor meeting & waiting area where the Senators would assemble before entering the Comitium/Curia area together.]
     
  Everything political happened here and was announced from here (Rostra) for 700yrs until Julius Caesar moved the Rostra to the Forum and built a new Senate Bldg (Curia Julia). After Caesar's death and the Civil War, Augustus became Emperor (27BC) and the Senate there-after would be under the thumb of Emperors, like the early Kings of Rome (pre-509BC). But the Senate did order a few Emperors to be whacked (killed; I just like the Soprano/Mafia term ), like Nero.
The Empire of Rome was born here and the decisions that made it one of the greatest empires on Earth were made here.   From the 1st Iron-Age tribal gathering to later aristocratic Senate meetings, voting, receiving foreign envoys, criminal trials complete with scourgings/whippings and executions (a sexual encounter with a Vestal Virgin would get the man whipped to death here), priests/augers looking for signs from the Gods like from a flight of birds, animal sacrifices and possibly human (those found beneath the Forum in the marsh?) along with banquets, games and theatrical shows.
  Where you are standing and to the right of you they built a speakers platform (later called a Rostra) at the time of the founding of the Republic (509BC). Possibly wooden at first and later made of stone.   In 338 BCE the sharp bronze beaks (Rostra) of ships captured in the Latin War, were mounted on the front of the speakers platform, thus giving it its name. Gaius Maenius captured them and was Consul, his column location is shown in Photo 2 'Columna Maenia'.
 On the otherside of the Volcanal (beneath the Niger Lapis) stood the Graecostasis. It was a raised platform just like the Rostra, and it was intended for ambassadors from other nations, mostly Greek, attending the meetings in the Comitium.   
  ~300-250BC the Comitium was made circular like the Greek Ekklesiastéria (the Romans are infatuated with the Greeks around this time. It's ~50m across and like a small Colosseum, with rings of seats going down. In the center is an open area like a small stage or arena.   The Graecostasis and the Rostra are still a part of this new Comitium and the Lapis Niger is also incorporated into this circular structure.
  The diagrams show this circular Comitium and the Curia as one bldg. I think this Ekklesiastéria was still outside but surrounded a roofed colonnade? I have read of an awning put over it and the earlier Comitium for protection from the summer sun. But I wonder if in any of the later rebuilds if it was finally roofed over? BTW this roofed Ekklesiastéria/Curia is shown as the Senate Bldg in 'HBO's Rome', nice but wrong it was already destroyed in this movie's timeline.    
 Also now the Rostra is curved to fit in with this new circular Comitium (this will come-up later at the Forum Rostra). With this new Rostra the speaker can address those in the circular Comitium and if he turns around he can address the people gathered in the Forum also (Photo 1 http://classics.furman.edu/~rprior/imgs/RCU2/2-056.jpg Photo 2 http://teggelaar.com/rome/images/ima...rome/R1013.jpg ).
 In front of the Rostra was fixed the bronze 'Twelve Tablets of Law' (~450BC). And on occasion the heads of those who crossed men like Marius and Sulla.   Cicero delivered his 2nd and 3rd orations against Catiline from this Rostra.
  Also in the Comitium area was the 'Ficus Ruminalis' the Fig Tree that Romulus and Remus were found under, it was magicly moved here from it's site near the Tiber River. In 296BC the famous bronze statue of the She-Wolf suckling Romulus and Remus (in the Capitoline Museum) was placed beneath this tree. And as time went on there were statues everywhere, even a couple of stucco wall paintings taken from Sparta and framed in wood.
  An Oracle commanded the Romans during the 'Samnite Wars' to put up statues to the "wisest and bravest Greeks", Pythagoras & Alcibiades were chosen and placed here.
  In 263BC Consul Messalla put up a large painting of a battle he won over King Hiero.
  In 260BC Admiral C. Duilius got a statue on a column decorated with the beaks (Columna Rostraia) of defeated enemy ships placed near the Rostra.
 The Comitium also served as the official clock of the city. The Herald of the Consul would stand on the stairs of the Curia Hostilia, and when he saw the sun precisely between the Rostra and the Graecostasis he would announce that it was midday, and when he saw the sun between the Columna Maenia and the Carcer, he would announce sunset. The hours of the day would be approximately determined from these fixed points in time. The Romans only learnt more accurate time keeping from the Greeks in S. Italy later. The first Sundial (solarium) was brought to the Comitium in 263 BCE from Sicily but because the difference in latitudes it wasn't accurate (99yrs later they get an accurate one). I'm assuming it still was in front of this Comitium Rostra because Cicero says it was a common meeting place "I'll meet you at the Sundial by the Rostra or Forum" and the older one was placed there with the newer one nearby.  
 Still standing next to the Niger Lapis I'll point out some stuff. Directly in front of the steps of the Curia are the (flush to the ground) remains of a round base for a fountain. So picture a very large fountain in front of the Curia in ancient times. Some claim it's the fountain basin of the Piazza del Quirinale's fountain? The Quirinale's fountain basin was used as a cattle-trough in the Roman Forum until it was brought to it's new location by Pope Pius VII (~1800).
To the left-front of the fountain is a honorific base for a missing statue. The inscription on the side facing you reads: 'Marti invicto patri et aeternae urbis suae conditoribus' in the first 3 lines. But notice the 4th line is etched out and the 5th line reads 'Invictvs•Avg'. The 4th line had Emperor Maxentius' name on it, this is called a 'Damnatio Memoriae'. It means all trace of your existence is erased; your statues destroyed, your bldgs renamed, your coins melted down, your inscriptions erased, etc. The best example will be on that arch behind you. Constantine beat Maxentius in battle, became Emperor and issued a Damnatio Memoriae on Maxentius.   This base is from Emperor Maxentius (~310AD) who revived the cult worship of Romulus and dedicated this missing statue to the God Mars (Marti), the 'Father of Romulus'. Note that it is also directly facing the Lapis Niger. The Emperor also named his son Romulus who died very young.
  Now look to your left in front of the arch, on the right end is the large base of an equestrian (missing) statue. Dedicated by Constantius II to commemorate his victory over the usurper Magnentius in 352AD.
  Behind you-over your left shoulder across the Via Sacra actually in the Forum is the Decennalia Base. It commemorates the 10th anniversary of the Tetrarchy (303AD) when Emperor Diocletian split the Roman Empire in two with a Emperor and co-Emperor in the East and another set in the West. It was just one of four statue bases of a complex monument. One to each Augustus and Caesar and one to the God Jupiter.
 Also behind you and over your right shoulder in the Forum is a large marble inscription on a base. It comemorates the victory of the Emperors Arcadius, Honorius and Theodosius over the hordes (Goths) led by Radagaisus in 405AD. What is noteworthy is the erased 5th & 6th line from the bottom. It once named the campaign's conquering general Stilicon in the 5th line (I assume the 6th line was also part of his dedication?). But his fame was short lived, Emperor Honorius ordered him executed 3 years later and a Damnatio Memoriae on his name.
  If you look 45deg to your right you will see 3 other statue bases by the custodian shack/Janus. The 3rd one is totally destroyed, the middle one is intact and it's dedicated to 'Emperor Constantius II' by Memmius Vitrasius Orfitus.
  The 1st one is partially destroyed but has scant traces of a dedication to Emperor Julianus. Julianus was the last Pagan Emperor of Rome and had a Christian 'Damnatio Memoriae' put out on him and that *might* account for the pedestal's destruction? And possibly the 3rd base's destruction also because it was a Pagan dedication? Seeing that the middle Christian Emperor's base is completely untouched it's a very good possibility. 
  Constantius II is *the* Emperor Constantine's 2nd son. Julianus father was the half-brother of Constantine. So these 2 bases are cousins but it's a disfunctional family.
  Constantine dies in 337AD, Constantius II comes home and a large number of his relatives and others are killed. It's claimed that it was due to the infighting of two Christian cults after Constantine's death but Constantius very likely had a hand in it.   The only males is his bloodline to survive is Julianus and his half-brother Gallus because they are very young children, their father was also killed. Gallus years later as an adult will be killed by Constantius for treason (he was guilty and his wife put him up to it).
  Constantius keeps a watchful eye on Julianus as he grows-up and into adulthood. But he gives him no reason to worry about revenge or his taking over as a blood relative of Constantine.  Julianus studies Christianity and later Paganism in Greece. He is quite scholarly and practices Christianity but is a 'closet Pagan'.  Constantius made him a general and sent him to repel invasions in Gaul. He even married Constantius' sister.  But Julianus was too successful and Constantius feared that he was getting too powerful and tried to break-up his command by sending many of his troops to Persia.  Julianus troops mutinied and declared Julianus Emperor in 360. But before the 2 armys could meet in battle Constantius dies of fever (361) and Julianus became Emperor.
  So a Civil War is averted and Julianus comes out of the closet. His goal is too return Rome to Paganism and for the Roman Empire to return to its past glory.   He enacts anti-Christian laws along with a anti-Christian PR campaign.
  But he dies 2 yrs later while on military campaign when he catches a spear in the abdomen during a guerilla raid.   So in 363AD Julianus died as the last Pagan to rule over Rome.
  This is a translation I found online of what is written on the statue base of Constantius II. Orfitus is the 2nd most powerful man in the Empire under Constantius. He's a stand-up guy with a good career behind him and was probably biting his tongue when he dedicated this to Constantius.
"To him who has enlarged the Roman empire, our Master Flavius Julius Constantius, the Greatest, who conquers and triumphs over the entire world, Augustus.
  His Excellency Memmius Vitrasius Orfitus, in his second term as Praefectus Urbi, in his third as high interrogating judge; devoted to the emperor's numen and majestas".
***These scant remains to the right of the Niger Lapis have baffled me http://www.sionmc.com/Rome/forum/com...s/comfloor.htm I have found nothing in any books, on websites and have even posted on history and archaeology newsgroups with no luck. It's a very prestigious spot just by being in the Comitium, in front of the Curia and alongside the Lapis Niger.  As you can see all that remains is one corner (~2mx1.5m) and lone short straight section (~1m) of marble which I'm certain formed a curb around this structure and this curb was slotted to hold upright marble slabs forming a fence around this structure. Exactly like the Lapis Niger has around it.
  And within this rectangle/square is a small concrete/rubble pile. That concrete pile is very likely the remains of the concrete podium of this structure which was probably marble faced.
  The structure could not exist there (on *that* paving) anytime before the Sulla?-Julius Caesar-Augustus era. Perhaps because it doesn't *seem* to be mentioned anywhere it's from late in the Empire? Like the so-called 'Temple of Janus' brick structure, it's in a prime location and was built sometime late 2C to 3C AD but no one knows what it was for.
  Actually 'HBO's Rome' got me thinking about this scant ruin. Quite a few times it showed a fat Herald annoucing the News from a podium (speaker's platform) in front of the Curia. Even though it was the Curia Hostilia which was destroyed by that time.
  In 193AD the 'Temple of Janus Geminus' was moved to "in front of the Curia". It was a smaller shrine than the previous ones and completely made of bronze.  A concrete podium to elevate a small bronze shrine? With a fence to make a sacred boundary?  
 Also the early Comitium had a Tribunal (where a judge would hear specific types of court cases in the open). But *that* Tribunal was moved before this paving over was done. Plus it would have been mentioned for sure.
  If I had to bet or guess on what it was, I'd put my money on the 193AD 'Temple of Janus'.
  It was placed somewhere in front of the Curia and there is not alot of room there. We can see the remains of the large fountain directly if front of Curia's steps and the Lapis Niger. But no recorded Temple of Janus remains, so why not there?   And from across the Forum it would architecturally frame the Curia nicely. Large fountain in front, facing the small *short* Lapis Niger and slightly to the side a beautiful small bronze Janus Temple.
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Dec 31st, 2005, 02:14 PM
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Topping for Linda
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Jan 1st, 2006, 01:23 PM
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#7. NIGER LAPIS & THE VOLCANAL (SHRINE OF VULCAN)
  Ok, you are still standing next to the 'Niger Lapis' (that fenced-off black paving in front of the Curia).
  'Niger Lapis' means 'Black Stone' which was put over part of the 'Volcanal' area which is a 'Shrine to Vulcan' aka 'Volcanus' (a Shrine is an open air structure whereas a Temple is roofed bldg).
  The Volcanal Shrine was cut-down heightwise and then paved over, the Niger Lapis marks it's partial underground location.   The Volcanal was discovered and excavated in 1899 and that is where those fenced-off stairs lead too. You can peak down the stairs but you won't see too much.
  You'll also notice squares of thick glass blocks in the pavement nearby, those are skylights for further underground Comitium excavations.  
 The Volcanal was probably the oldest man-made site in the Forum. Some parts of it that remain today are from the 6th possibly 7th Century BC.   But it is possible some claim that an even earlier Shrine existed there before Romulus and the Founding of Rome.   They were burying their dead in the Forum marsh and even pitching in a few live ones (sacrifices? capital punishment?) before Romulus' time. So it's very possible that a type of shrine existed here on this higher dry ground.   And some attribute this site's founding and cult worship to Romulus. But it's usually attributed to Titus Tatius the Sabine King who fought and later co-ruled with Romulus.   So during or before the founding of Rome we have a 'Shrine to Vulcan' here. But by Julius Caesar's day and even earlier the *exact* meaning or purpose of this site was already lost.  
 Vulcan was very likely not an original Roman God and was probably taken from the Etruscans. It's also possible that this Etruscan God was originally a gentler God of the changing seasons and plant/crop growth but later changed by the Romans to a Fire God.   Vulcan is a God of Fire who also has control of volcanos, earthquakes and lightning.   Where the Vestal Virgins Fire was good (the home hearth, warmth, light, protection, cooking, etc), Vulcans Fire was the destructive and devouring side. But appeasing a God like Vulcan thru worship and sacrificing keeps him happy and a happy Fire-God doesn't burn-up ya stuff .
  Plus these boys are Iron-Age so worshipping a God who forges your weapons with his fire keeps you ahead in the Arms Race .
  Vulcan also had a bad-boy son named Cacus. He was a fire-breathing monster that lived on a Roman hill and was killed by Hercules.   
  Many years later when the Romans are going ga-ga over the Greeks they merge their Vulcan with the older and cooler Greek God of fire Hephaestus. Hephaestus is a Fire-God/Blacksmith who lives and works under a Volcano (the Roman word that we still use today). He makes everything for the Gods from their weapons & armor, Zeus' Lighting Bolts, Pandora's Box, Archilles' Armor, etc.
  Bottomline: It seems *very likely* that this site was the *1st*
religious shrine/temple from 'Day 1' of Rome's beginning or even before. The worship of Fire and Fire-Gods goes back to the dawn of civilization.   But even for these Iron-Age tribes a Fire God would still be 'The Main Man' , cooks ya food, forges your weapons, keeps ya warm and keeps the wolves away.
  Vulcan later becomes one of the 12 main Roman Gods and has a couple of festivals in his honor.
    There is a minor one in June where fishman offer fish to Vulcan. But the main state sponsored festival/holiday is called the Volcanalia and is held on August 23.
  In Rome live fish are thrown into bonfires as an offering to avoid his wrath, these fish are always from the Tiber River where the water is used to put-out fires in Rome. It reads to me that the Volcanal had offerings of fish and possibly larger animals at it's Shrine but it was more low-key and religious; whereas bonfires in the other parts of the city were wilder party festivals (like the US 4th of July).
  On August 23, 79AD the Roman towns around Mt. Vesuvius would also be celebrating Volcanalia and making offerings to Vulcan. The next day Vesuvius blows its top and becomes an active Volcano, the residents must have believed it was the wrath of Vulcan upon them!   Vulcan is also the major God and cult in Ostia (Rome's seaport) where the major warehouses store Rome's foodstuffs (food+fire=famine).   There is also a 'Temple to Vulcan' (215BC) in Rome's Campus Martius. This is where they want the many 'offering fires' (bonfires), away from the city's central grand and flammable structures.   Also if you search for 'Volcanal' you might sometimes find it placed behind the Rostra and alongside the Arch of Septimius Severus. During the 19thC Forum excavations the 'Altar of Saturn' was mistakenly thought to be the Volcanal.
THE VOLCANAL SITE:
  Well you can't see this Shrine unless you hop the fence and go down the stairs, if you hop the fence you'll need 2 things, a flashlight and the phone number of a good Rome Trespass Lawyer .   But this model in the 'Museo Nazionale Romano' at the 'Baths of Diocletian' shows the open-air shrine. This museum is across from the Termini Train Station and often overlooked but it's a must for history buffs. http://sights.seindal.dk/img/orig/7956.jpg
  Now stand behind the 'Niger Lapis' facing the Forum, the Stairs are in the right rear corner and I want you to stand in the left rear corner facing that tall marble base with the erased 'Stilicon' inscription in the Forum I mentioned earlier.   This is roughly the direction that this shrine is facing and the 'Niger Lapis' only covers-over part of it. Look at the photo: The Shrine is U-shaped like this [TT] and in front of it is a rectangular Altar. The Niger Lapis corner where you are standing is over the lower right corner of that structure that is the left part of the U or this [T section.
  It extends over to the lower right corner of the Altar and covers-over the entire right section of the U or this part T] and that square and circular object.
  It also extends over a well (not shown in photo) that is below the right lower corner of the right part of the U. This square Well I'm guessing is a 'Pozzi Rituali' (Ritual Pit, there are quite a few in the Forum. It's believed that they were for discarding the remains of animal sacrifices), if so it's possibly that this is the 1st one in the Forum. {If So} The Altar in front of the Volcanal would be where the animals were sacrificed by the Priests.
  The Priest(s) would then look at the animal's entrails/intestines and organs for a sign from the Gods and announce their findings good/bad, yes/no, pro/con etc.
  Example: On the day Julius Caesar was murdered the Priests told him the
bird they sacrificed for him had no heart, so a bad omen (stay home and don't go to the Senate Meeting).
  I've read that the entrails/organs are then burned. Of the pits excavated in the Forum nothing was found in them except one had some broken pottery in it, which could be there for any reason. So if these Pozzi Rituali were used for discarding the sacifices there should be animal bones in them I'd imagine? I wonder if *just* the entrails/organs (which after all that is where the Gods intervened with their Signs) were sacredly burned and then deposited into the pits?   In 2000yrs ashes mixed in soil would be had to find and even if the intact organs were dumped into these pits their evidence would be long gone?   The other Pozzi Rituali we'll see later are 6 or more pits in a straight line except for the ones (I believe) at the Arch of Augustus which a in a square like this [: :].
  So in the photo model you can see what is left of the actual horse-shoe shaped Shrine.
  It just seems odd to me that this ancient shrine was not only covered-over but also
partly demolished. It was destroyed by the 390BC Gaul invasion & torching of Rome but rebuilt.
  Why did they cover it over it? (it was *very probably* paved-over by Julius Caesar's reconstruction and burying of the Comtium in the mid-late 40'sBC although some attribute it wrongly to Sulla's ~80BC reconstruction) Caesar paved-over the area at a higher level but he could have left this shrine intact at the lower level and fenced-off with steps down to it or disassembled the stone block shrine and reassembled it on the newer pavement?
  Also the shrine would have to be cut-down to be paved-over but it looks like it was destroyed alot more than need be.   Romans were fearful of destroying shrines and temples to their Gods, that whole wrath of god thing.
  Julius Caesar was a dictator and he could get what he wanted. But I've never read anything negative about him doing this nor was it ever rebuilt after his reign to applease the God Vulcan.   It's also odd that the Lapis Niger only covers around one-third of the actual shrine (that small stone pedastal? in the center of the 'U' and basically the entire right side of the 'U') but does cover over the Cippis and Pillar (the square and round objects in the photo) and also that Well (pozzi rituali?) I mentioned.
  So was that area and those objects the most sacred (esp the Cippus)? Or is there another reason for this small Black Pavement site? It did become known as an unlucky or ill-omened place.   That Shrine is from ~350-300BC but it replaced an earlier one. It's believed that the Shrine was used as the earliest speaker's platform (rostra) for the Comitium and also for public assemblies in the Forum (the Shrine & Comitium was higher than the Forum back then).   And they're fairly certain that early VIP cremations were done before this Shrine.   
  We don't know what this Shrine looked like before it was chopped down but it's *claimed* that each side of the 'U' had a Lion's statue on it. Perhaps this is from an ancient source that said there was a Lion statue in honor of Romulus' stepfather (Faustulus) located around there?   And one source *claims* that the center section of the 'U' is a grave? Also notice that the sides of the 'U' look like tombs, at least to me. Later day Romans believed that this Shrine was supposed to be where Romulus was to be buried but his body was never found. Remember this is the location I mentioned early on where one tradition claims Romulus was killed here by the Senators and his body was cut-up and snuck away hidden beneath the Senators togas. The modern Italian inscription in the staircase wrongly claims it's the Tomb of Romulus.   Also it's believed that Romulus' stepfather Faustulus was buried here in his place.
  And also that it is the grave of Hostus Hostilius whose was the grandfather of the third Roman King Tullus Hostilius.  
 The circular column base in the photo is from the 3C-BC and probably supported a statue.
  The square base in the photo website above is an inscribed tufa stone block called a Cippus (an inscribed upright stone often used as gravestones aka a stela). Cippus model photos http://sights.seindal.dk/img/orig/7954.jpg http://sights.seindal.dk/img/orig/7955.jpg.   This Cippus dates from the 6thC (570-550BC) some even say earlier (7thC).   The Cippus inscription is the oldest Latin writing ever found and it's style is called Boustrophedonic meaning it's read up and down in alternating directions.
  Seeing that its height was cut-down for the new pavement only 1/3 to 1/2 of each line survives.
  It seems that the inscription is a set of laws for a religious rite where the King and his Herald perform sacred duties involving 'beasts of burden' or yolked animals.
  They believe that it means that the King sacrified animals (bull, oxen. etc) at this Shrine. And because his Herald is with him it's believed it was in connection with the Comitium meetings (an opening sacrifice?).
  Some think that the Cippus' original location was atop that small rectangular stone block in the middle of the 'U'. And it was moved to a lower location so that more of it could be saved due to the cutting-down of the site for the pavement.
Ok now, look to the Arch and past it to the modern stairs and the scant remains of the Temple of Concord on the left of the stairs at the base of that large bldg
from where you are standing next to the Niger Lapis. That area area was called the 'Area Volcani' and was part of this Shrine's sacred area.   It was an large open area but probably marked or fenced-off. It had quite a few inscriptions and statues within it. The earliest was said to be a bronze quadriga (chariot drawn by 4 horses statue) from Romulus.
  A statue of Horatius Cocles (early military hero) who's statue was in the Comitium but after if was struck by lightning it was moved here.   And oddly a player who was performing in the Circus Maximus and was struck down by a lightning bolt was buried here and had a statue atop a column over his grave. Lightning strikes were considered a sign from the Gods and in his player's circumstance it was considered a good sign it seems . Also Vulcan had lightning in his realm of control, so perhaps that is why the both ended up here?  
 In 304BC a bronze 'Shrine to Concordia' was erected in this area. And also history records two 'Rains of Blood' falling in this area, the last in 181BC. And if you couldn't guess it's a bad sign from the Gods .   An ancient Lotus and Cypress tree also grew in this area, the Lotus tree was huge.
 
 Over the years this Area Volcani shunk in size like when the 'Temple of Concord' was built ~367BC.
  A statue base has been found (nearby the Curia) dedicated to Vulcan from Augustus in 9BC. But it seems this God although one of the 'Big 12' was kind-of pushed to the back of the pack and his cult worship put on the back burner.
  Emperor Maxentius 306-312AD tried to revive this cult (his nearby pedestal base facing the Niger Lapis) but if he had any sucess it would be short lived, Christian Emperor Constantine kicks his butt and takes over.
NIGER LAPIS: So Julius Caesar (mid-to-late 40BC) paves-over the Comitium and buries the all the remains. He did this in his reorganization of the Forum, with a new Senate Bldg (Curia Julia, that you see before you) and a new Rostra in a new location at the western end of the Forum Sq.   And in this new pavement he puts in the 4mx3m Black Stone (Niger Lapis) site.
  It is actually a 'bluish-gray limestone' and the short side facing the Forum isn't exactly square for some reason.   And as I have already mentioned it covers about 1/3 of the Shrine including the small stone base in the center of the 'U', the Cippus, the short circular column which perhaps held a small statue and the Well (pozzi rituali?).
Why *just* that area and those objects, who knows. If it was to revere the Cippus you would think in would be in the exact center which it is not (it's centered but at the top of this rectangular site. Plus by doubling the size you could cover the complete site, it's only paving stones after all.
  And why bury and partially destroy such an ancient and revered site in the 1st place?
  And now after the Niger Lapis is built it becomes know as an inauspicious (ill-omened, unlucky, evil, unfavorable) place.   The theories are that *that* underground section in Caesar's day was believed to be either a grave or crime scene .   Either Romulus or his foster father Faustulus or the 3rd King of Rome's grandfather was believed to be buried there.   Or that is the location where Romulus was murdered by the Senators.
  Julius Caesar has the Curia Julia built *directly* facing the Niger Lapis and not square to the Forum Square as it should be. So this site was revered by the Romans in his day.   In 9AD after a fire Emperor Augustus has this whole area repaved except for the Niger Lapis.
  You'll notice that the Niger Lapis is one pavement level below the surrounding pavement. Augustus also put the slotted curb around it which held upright marble slabs (only the southside survives) which formed a fence around the Niger Lapis.
  Whether it was fenced-off or open originally I do not know but it probably was being a sacred site.
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Jan 1st, 2006, 08:41 PM
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Walter, I keep adding your additional posts to my Word file for this Walking Tour. Do you think three days will be enough for me to get through it all?

Very interesting stuff, I appreciate the time you take to post so much good information!
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Jan 2nd, 2006, 05:34 AM
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I, too, want to offer my thanks and appreciation to Walter for his wonderful gesture in providing this comprehensive guide to the Forum.
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Jan 2nd, 2006, 08:19 AM
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Thanks for the latest installment Walter!
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Jan 17th, 2006, 04:16 PM
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#8. CURIA JULIA (SENATE BLDG) PART-1
Ok now still standing by the Niger Lapis look at the tall intact brick bldg (25.2m x 17.6m & 31.6m high), that is the Curia Julia. It was the new Senate Bldg in a new location (replacing the Curia Hostilia whose remains are beneath the church on the left) that was being built by Julius Caesar before his murder in 44BC.
  It doesn't get finished for 15 more years, Rome's kind-of shaky then with the Civil Wars, untrusting internal alliances and that whole Anthony and Cleopatra thing .  Octavian (Caesar's great-nephew, adopted son and legal heir) finally becomes Emperor Augustus in 31BC.   In August 29BC the finished bldg is inaugurated by Augustus, along with the Temple of Julius Caesar and an extended Rostra that incorporated Caesar's smaller Rostra within it. [FRONT FACADE]
  Ok we'll now try and picture what this bldg looked like, use this modern picture to see the areas I mention http://www.livius.org/a/italy/rome/c...ia/curia02.JPG in the front of the bldg and this for reconstructed photos of the Curia http://dlib.etc.ucla.edu:8080/projec...ulia_1/history   See the square holes below the windows in the facade, they supported a roof that was part of and over the columned portico by Augustus.   
  The upper row of holes probably supported a low pitched roof that was over the actual flat portico roof which was supported by the bottom row of holes.
  Whether the original roof was just flat and this additional low pitched roof was added-on by Diocletian or it was always there I don't know. I mention this because the roof is often said to be flat in the original bldg. If it was flat it *might* have been used by Senators and VIPs to stand/sit on like a grandstand to watch events in the Forum or the Comitium below (a common practice in other bldgs for Forum events)? The Curia Bldg on an ancient coin (28BC) shows that the portico extended past both sides of the bldg. Perhaps the portico turned and extended down the rightside of the bldg? The leftside portico probably connected to the Chalcidicum Bldg that was beside the Curia?   A 16C drawing shows a shortened 6 columned portico (8 columns stood *directly* in front of the bldg but the end 2 are gone because the stairs are now also shortened and angled-in at the ends \____/ where they once stood. Also now the portico's roof has a peak /\ which I assume is a later addition (Diocletian?) or an early church replacement?   The portico was finally destroyed when the columns were taken by Cardinal Bellaio in the 16C but the nice doorframe survived.
 
 The stairs are a modern (1930's) construction, the original stairs went up from the present day ground level to the portico and probably ran the full front length of the Curia and possiby beyond for the portico.
  The large bronze doors (5.9m) are just modern copies of the originals. The originals were moved to the St. John Lateran Church (where you can see them today) in 1660 by Pope Alexander VII using the architect Borromini. The Curia is now a church and was partially below street level, when the doors were removed the inside was filled with dirt and refloored to bring it up to the 1660 street level. ~20ft higher than the pavement you're standing on, before that over the years you had to sometimes walk down steps to the doors and twice these doors were raised-up , once by 3m in 1654 and the windows were blocked-off at that time.   When the doors were being fitted to the Lateran Church a coin of Domitian (81-96AD) was found within the door. The Curia had been restored by Domitian after a fire. Most sources claim these doors were from the Diocletian rebuild after the 283AD fire but this coin seems to disprove that IMO. Perhaps these *are* the original 29BC doors that have just been restored after each fire? If not, they at least seem to date back to Domitian? By Law the doors were always open when the Senate was in session.
   The remains of the door frame is just the basic structure, it was alot more elaborate.
  Each side of the door had a column with a capital holding up a domed pediment, like this TT with a sideways D on top of it. This beautiful frame is gone today but I'm using a 1560AD sketch which I believe shows the original doorframe? Although it is often shown with a triangular /\ pediment in reconstruction drawings?    The 3 windows are original with a southern exposure for the light but they are not on the same level as the side and rear windows.    The bottom part of the bldg was marble-faced meaning marble slabs were attached (revetted) to the brick to make the bldg look like it was a marble block structure and making it alot cheaper to build. The marble-facing only went as high as the portico.   2m to the left of the door and about waist to eye level is a small piece (like this [] ) of this orginal marble facing. It's blocked in the photo by the 2 people standing in front of it.    Above the portico the brick was faced in fine white stucco with lines incised deep into it to make it look just like the marble slab facing, this was even cheaper than marble-facing.   If you look to the very top center of the bldg just below the pediment you will see a short row of this incised stucco (in photo).
Now look up at the Pediment (triangular roof peak, those brackets below the pediments overhanging parts are called corbels and are travertine). I've read the actual roof was flat (it was wooden) so this is probably just a facade (false front). It is original though as this coin of the Curia from 27-8 BC shows
www.vroma.org:7878/1533/
http://www.thais.it/architettura/Rom.../Foto_0035.htm also the portico had more columns (10 should be shown) but it would have been harder to engrave all of them.
[In coin photo] At the peak of the pediment is a statue of Victory standing on a globe (she has wings and a Military-type Standard? in one hand and a Laurel Wreath in the other) and 2 warrior statues at each end. And as you can see some kind of decorative pole-like objects between them IIIIIII. And within the pediment some kind of scene with a single figure, either statues or perhaps a carved scene in painted stone panels or stucco?   Whatever was up there you can bet it was very beautiful! The statues were probably a shiny bronze and the pediment was brightly painted.
 
 The Freize below the Pediment is also shown on that coin photo, it reads IMP • CAESAR for 'Imperator Caesar' which is Augustus' title, like 'Leader of the military and Ruler'. This also lets the Senators know "Who's the Boss" .
  To the left of the Curia was the Chalcidicum built by Augustus and later called the Atrium Minerva (after Emperor Domitian's post-fire rebuild he renames it and puts in a statue of Minerva). It was courtyard with a colonnade on each side possibly used as a records repository and where public notices were posted and some also read aloud. The 'Tribune of the People' stood outside the Curia's open doors listening in and would announce the proceding to the public from the Chalcidicum.   It's remains disappeared when a street (Via Bonella) was put thru there ~1585.
 
 And to the left of the Chalcidicum was the 'Secretarium Senatus', it was a hall (18x9m) with an apse at one end. It was used for smaller Senate committee meetings (I wonder, SECRETarium = closed door Senate meetings?).
  It was possibly built by Emperor Diocletian (284-305AD), it lies in-between the ruins of the Curia Hostila and that present day Church (Santi Luca e Martina).
  An inscription showed it was restored in 311AD and repaired after the (410) fire in 412.
Now look to the right of the Curia's door and ~4m up from the ground. See the group of 3 shallow but long niches (2 side by side and 1 below their center).
  Now look to the left of the door, 2 side by side and 1 below the farthest niche on the left. *[You can see them in the photo]*   Those niches were dug-out of the wall for Medieval burial tombs. Notice that would have been just above the ground-level of that time.   Also on the right notice ~2m below those 3 niches a single earlier burial niche?
  On the left notice the niche below the farthest one. It has these 3 large (about the size of a coffee table book) brick-tiles in this niche. Later look closer at these brick-tiles and you can see a 'brick stamp' on them (a 'brick stamp' usually tells by who and when that brick was made).
  These niches have been filled-in with cement during the excavation, I assume for structural reasons. And I also assume the one with the brick-tiles was put back to how it originally looked after that niche was cemented in. So a niche was hacked-out of the wall, the body placed within and then large brick-tiles sealed-up this tomb. Actually just like the earlier Christian Catacomb burials.   These niches today contain no human remains.
  There were also Medieval burials in the concrete core of the front steps and in the Comitium (both were then below ground level). [INTERIOR FLOOR]
  Now let's go inside the Curia, you can only enter a couple of meters though, it's fenced-off.
  As you climb the steps and enter into the Curia I want you to imagine what happened there during Caligula's reign (37-41AD) according to Suetonius.
  Caligula wanted a Senator brutally killed and mauled for his charge of being an enemy of Rome.
  He ordered some Senators to attack him as he enter the bldg. And you don't just say "No" to this whacko!
  As he entered the bldg the Senators attacked and stabbed him with their stylus' (a long metal pen, pointed at one end for ink writing and flattened at the other for smoothing wax which is written on).   Either dead or dying he was then turned-over to the others to be mangled and mauled.
  The man's limbs, members (I don't even want to know ) and bowels were dragged thru the streets and piled-up before Caligula...his sadistic cruelty now satisfied!
  As you enter the 1st thing to catch you eye is the *beautiful* floor, it's original from Diocletian's post-283AD fire rebuild.   It's called 'Opus Sectile' and it's one of the best surviving examples of this type floor. It features fancy Rosettes in square panels, alternating with, 2 pairs of connecting pairs of Cornucopias in rectangular panels.
  These are marble slabs with inlays of precious polychrome marbles (porphyry & serpentine).  
 This type of floor replaced mosaic floors in the Late Republician Period and later and was almost exclusively used in public and religious bldgs.
On each side of the floor are 3 low broad steps paved in Phrygian Purple.
 One source claims that on these steps were placed the Senator's chairs, each side held 5 rows and there were a total of 300 chairs for 300 Senators. There are actually 600 Senators, so for something major when the majority the Senators showed-up they would have to meet in a temple elsewhere.   
I've also read that the Senators stood while in session because sitting would be a sign of "Greek weakness". Perhaps in the early days but by the time of this bldg you can bet that those rich, powerful, fat-cat Senators were sitting down their fat butts down .    But this sees the most likely: The 3 Steps were defined by status; 1st Step the most notable, senior, powerful Senators *sitting* down in the front row.   2nd Step the 'up and coming' boys in the middle neither a newbie or a fatcat. Sitting or standing I don't know. 3rd Step the junior least powerful 'newbie' Senators and they *stood* on this slightly wider step.   Pliny The Younger's Consul acceptance speech here ran-on for hours but normally a senator's speech was timed by a waterclock.   The Curia would also double as a courtroom for long trials of indicted Governors.
[REAR WALL]
 On the far wall is the 'President's Platform' (that's what the Italian archaeological guide calls it).
  It is where the 2 Senate Consuls (2 Senators elected each year as co-ruling Presidents) would always sit during the Republic. But now in the Imperial Age it is where the Emperor sits when he's presiding over the Senate, when the Emperor isn't there the 2 Consuls sit there.   The statue base on the right is original but the statue is not. It's a porphyry statue possibly of Emperor Trajan that was dug-up behind the Curia.
  That base might have held a statue of 'Goddess of Victory' like the one on the roof. But is that base even in its original location?   If not *perhaps* in that niche in the center of the platform against the wall? This statue I've read was gold, if not at least a golden bronze color.
  It was captured by the Romans in 272BC and Julius Caesar finally brought it to Rome from where ever it was.   Augustus placed it here to celebrate his defeat of Anthony and Cleopatra.   Victory is holding a Laurel Wreath (given to the victorious as a crown) in one hand and a Palm leaf in the other. That is what I've read of this statue but on coins it seems that *this* Curia Victory statue is holding what looks like a Roman Legion Military Standard in place of the Palm Leaf? Augustus was no fool, he had the statue placed so it looked like Victory was descending to crown with the laurel wreath whoever was sitting in the Emperor's chair .
  The Chair is called a Sella Curulis (Curule Chair), it's an elaborate folding stool for high ranking magistrates. It's also shown on coins as a symbol of legitimate political authority.   www.vroma.org:7878/609/ Augustus (27BC): "He restored the laws and the
rights of the Roman people"
  Somewhere on or near this platform was the Clipeus Virtutis ('shield of valor') which was a inscripted Golden Shield from the Senate to Augustus (27 BC) for winning the Civil Wars, giving the Republic back to the people and Senate (not really though) and for his valor, clemency, justice and piety.
[Remember the pedestal bases out front]   Christian Emperor Constantius has this Pagan statue removed, later his Pagan cousin Emperor Julianus puts it back, next Christian Emperor Valentinian II let's it stay. And finally after a long debate St. Ambrosios gets it booted-out for good in 384-5AD.
  But the *Winged* Pagan Goddess Victory has the last laugh, she becomes the Christian winged Angel .
  These was also an 'Altar of Victory' on the President's Platform and homage was paid to her at the start of each Senate meeting.   The 2 modern doors on each side of the platform exit into the 'Forum of Caesar' which was no accident. He's showing the Senators 'Who's the Man', it's *his Curia and it's named after *his family and these doors open right into *his Forum.
  Now for a short time over the President's Platform there was a huge painting of Emperor Elagabalus (218-222AD) doing his Priestly duties of a sacrifice to his foreign Syrian-Phoenician Sun-God El Gabal.   He's Syrian and his Great-Uncle is Emperor Septimus Severus (his Arch is outside). He looks just like Septimus' son Emperor Caracalla and was probably his illegitimate son.
    He becomes Emperor at 15 and is murdered 4yrs later and he is one of the wacky Emperors who just asks for it.   And he ticks-off the Romans a number of ways like: He orders his Sun-God to replace Jupiter as the #1 Roman God! Marries a Vestal Virgin! Proclaims himself a God! Loves to dress-up as a female prostitute in heavy make-up and proposition passers-by from the Palace. Offers half the Roman Empire to any physician who can equip him with female genitalia! Makes his Mom and Grandmother the 1st female Senators and women aren't even allow inside the bldg!   And besides this painting he wants the Senate to offer sacrifices to both his Sun-God and Victory at the start of each session!   He kills his young cousin because he's afraid he'll be overthrown. His Grandma and his Aunt (also dead kid's mother & grandmother) bribe the Praetorian Guard to kill him.   He's killed crying in his mother's arms while hiding in a latrine on the Palatine Hill, their bodies are thrown into a sewer which they clog-up and then in the Tiber River.   The painting is torn down.
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Jan 17th, 2006, 04:26 PM
  #17
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#8. CURIA JULIA (SENATE BLDG) PART-2
[SIDE WALLS]
[I suggest going to the 'Reconstructed Photos' website above and click-on the 2nd photo for an interior view. That photo is fairly accurate]
Well the 1st thing you will notice are the 6 niches (3 on each wall). These held honorific statues within each niche.   On the side and bottom of each niche you will see carved brackets (leaves and spread eagles) that held thin columns, parts of these columns are still in place in some of the brackets. These brightly-colored alabaster columns went up to a projecting pediment above each niche. The niches on the ends had triangular pediments /\ but the center ones had oval ( pediments.
  The statues are long gone but if you look into some of these niches you will see the remains Christian Byzantine-era paintings.   Around the walls you will see 2 strips of molding, one at knee-level and the other at chest-level. Look at the wall behind the 'President's Platform' and you will see somewhat of what those 2 sections of wall looked like. Those 2 sections today would be called 'Wainscoting', it's a material that is put-up on the lower part of a wall to protect it from damage usually caused by furniture.   The Curia's Wainscoting is gray marble-facing. The lowest section protrudes out a bit, this would keep the chairs away from the wall. The upper section is flush with the wall and this prevent damage from people (a crowded hall's walls over the centuries would be damaged by people leaning or bumping into it).
  Above the niches roughly where the top of the pediment would have been, there was a Cornice around the walls. In this section between the wainscoting and the cornice there were large gray marble and porphyry rectangular panels and within these panels were colorful diamond, rectangular and other geometric designs. Also flat relief Corinthian columns and pilasters.
  The next upper band was white marble rectangular panels. And above this band (roughly 2/3 up the wall) to the ceiling the walls were painted stucco (probably whiteish to imitate marble and reflect light).   In 1562 these wall panels (150 marble & 29 Porphyry) were removed by a Cardinal under the Pope's orders.
  Augustus had 2 huge antique Greek panel pictures on the wall; One was a wax painting by Nikias 332BC and another by Philocares.   The ceiling (21m) is a modern reconstruction. The original was wood, flat and coffered like this reconstruction. Except it was very beautiful with richly gilted designs, some say in gold but probably in shiny golden copper/bronze.
[THE 2 LARGE MARBLE RELIEFS TO THE LEFT & RIGHT OF YOU]   These are called the 'PLUTEI OF TRAJAN' or sometimes just 'THE TWO MARBLE BALUSTRADES' These are PARAPETS which is a protective low wall or railing at the edge or around something, like encircling a sacred place or around a *platform edge*.  They were found in the Forum Square in front of the Rostra next to an unpaved spot where today a Fig tree, Olive tree and Vine grow (turn around and you will see them). Between the Via Sacra and those trees are 2 long low narrow blocks of Travertine and atop these blocks was where these 2 Parapets were found during the Forum excavations in the late-1800s.
This was NOT their original location, they were just haphazardly set-up there sometime in late Antiquity to form a square base.   Each Parapet formed a side and the ends were made-up of a carelessly built (stone or brick) wall. When found, the inside of this square was filled with rubbish.
  They have no idea what this square structure was built or used for.  
 This unpaved tree grove is believed to be the spot where the 'Ficus Ruminalis' (the Fig tree that the She-Wolf found Romulus & Remus under) was moved to. It was 1st magically moved from the Tiber River to the Comitium and then later to this location. Next to this Fig tree stood the 'Statue of Marsyas' (294BC), this scene will be on both parapets.  
 It's *very likely* that these 2 parapets were just part of a longer parapet that was on top of the Rostra which formed a protective rail in the front and sides.
  The style of the parapets is dated to ~120AD but could be later. Emperor Trajan is shown on both parapets so it's probable that either Trajan or his adopted son Emperor Hadrain had these built (but possibly even a later Emperor).  
  The backsides that you cannot see show the same scene, a sow, ram and bull being led to sacifice (the suovetaurilia). This side would have face the people standing in the Forum.
  The side you can see would be the SAME view that someone would have from atop the Rostra looking into and around the Forum, which was the intention.
These scenes also would have been beautifully painted.   Look at the PARAPET ON THE LEFT and viewing from left to right. It starts off with the Fig Tree and the headless 'Statue of Marsyas' which symbolizes a freedom from debt slavery for the common man. The attendants are carrying the Registers (wooden tablets with a wax face where the writing was done) in which their debts are recorded and piling them in a heap to be burned in front of the Rostra. Behind these attendants you can slightly see the arches of the Basilica Julia. Next an empty space representing a Street (the Vicus Jugarius between the Basilica and the Temple of Saturn).
  Next is the 6-columned Temple of Saturn, followed by a Triumphal Arch leading to the Capitoline Hill and then the 6-columned Temple of Vespasian & Titus.   The next narrow panel is missing, this *very likely* would have shown the 'Temple of Concord' above the Rostra.   The headless seated man between these 2 temples is Trajan, he's overseeing the destruction of these debts from in front of the Rostra (you can see a ship's beak in the very bottom corner, to the right of last man's shin).
 
 The PARAPET ON THE RIGHT and from left to right. The 1st scene shows Trajan addressing a crowd Plebians (common people) while standing on the *other* Rostra which is at the opposite end of the Forum.   This Rostra was the front part of the 'Temple of Divus Julius' (Divine Julius {Caesar}). The Temple and Rostra were both built *on top* of a high concrete & brick platform foundation which is all that remains of this site. The actual Temple was set-back a bit on this platform leaving the front section open which was called the Rostra ad Divi Julii. Guidesbooks often mistakenly put *this* Rostra actually in the Forum Square ~20m in front of the Temple, there will be a Rostra built there but not until the 4thC.
 Also notice the 'ship's beak-rostra' mounted on the front of this Rostra on the parapet. Augustus mounted these on the front of the Temple of Julius Caesar's Rostra. They were from the ships of Antony and Cleopatra's defeated navy.
  Behind Trajan are men (Lictors carrying the Fasti, bundles of Rods but without the axes) and behind them is the 'Arch of Augustus' (now gone except for the foundation) and next behind the Emperor is the 'Temple of the Castors'. Followed by an empty space showing the street (Vicus Tuscus) and then the arches of the Basilica Julia.   In front of the Basilica seated on a platform is Trajan with men in togas behind him and a woman with a child in her arms in front of him.   The woman represents Italy, Trajan is instituting 'Alimenta' which is economic aid to needy families to support/feed their children.   And the last scene again shows the Fig Tree and the Statue of Marsyas. Just guessing but I wonder! These two parapets show Trajan's good will/deeds to the people. And the background is of the Southside of the Forum. I wonder it there was a twin to this parapet showing his same good will/deeds but with the Northside background of the Forum?   Those VIPs sitting on the right side of the Rostra would see those scenes from their prespective and those on the left would see the same scenes from their's?
  Also there was a short open section in the center of the Rostra's parapet to allow the speaker to be seen full-length when addressing the crowd.
[HISTORY]
The name Curia comes from Rome's early beginnings and it was an assembly of people who represented their people (in their area and family clan).   In the early days Rome was divided into 3 Tribes, each Tribe was divided into 10 CURIAE, each CURIA was divided into 10 Clans.   Assemblies in the early Comitium were called 'Comitia Curiata' and composed of Senators from the '30 Curiae'.
  We later end up with 300 Senators in the Republican-Age so I assume it's just a number that stuck from the early days of 300 Clans? Each Clan 1 Senator?
  The dictator Sulla (~80BC) enlarges the Curia Hostilia and boosts the number of Senators up to 500-600, 600 is the commonly used figure.   Julius Caesar (dictator 49-44BC) boosts the number up to 900. And sometime in the years of social unrest after his murder it goes up to a
1000.
  Emperor Augustus (31BC-14AD) boots the riff-raff out and brings the number back to 600.
  In the period of this Curia voting was done by the 'pros' moving to one side of the bldg and the 'cons' to the other. Earlier this method and ballots were used but now secret ballots would mostly be used to elect Magistrates.
  The Senate would only meet between sunrise and sunset except in emergencies. Women and foreign ambassadors are never allowed into the Curia.
  The Senate would also meet in larger Temples (esp the Temple of Concord) when they needed the room and also sometimes in one of the Consul's homes.
The Curia is considered a 'Templum' which is a place (bldg or area) set apart by the Augurs (fortune-telling/omen finding Priests) and made sacred thru a religious ceremony. The Senate can only met in a Templum, which is why they often met in Temples.
  A Senator must have land and a certain large amount of money, basically he must be rich. If he loses either, he gets the boot.   Under Augustus the Senate meets twice a month and regulation requires at least 400 members to be present, later Augustus lowers this number.
  And later in the Imperial-Period this number drops to 75 but higher for major event votes.
  A Senator has special privileges; He gets to wear a toga with a purple stripe woven in the front and short boots with the letter 'C' on the front ('C' for the original 100 Senators).   He is also entitled to the best seats at the theatre and Games. Gets to go to a big blow-out feast on the Capitoline Hill honoring Jupiter once a year.   And the best perk is the 'Legatio Libera'. A Fodorite's Dream , it means he can play tourist in the provinces for free. Free room and board at the local's expense for *years*. It was unlimited but Cicero put a 1 yr limit on it but a little later Julius Caesar made it 5yrs.   In Roman politics murder, bribery, treachery, lies, slander, etc was the norm. Winning was everything, the losers would sometimes wind-up penniless, exiled or dead.
And opposing sides were often brutal and warlike. In 100BC while the voting was going on in the Curia Hostilia an opposing side hired thugs beat their opponent to death.   The Senate was outraged and declared the 2 leaders *Public *Enemies (PE).   Later the 2 opposing sides actually battled in the Forum. The PE and their followers were losing so they retreated to the Capitoline Hill.
  The Capitoline Hill is basically a fortress and they held-out until the water supply was shut-off.
  The Consul who was actually on their side but had to follow the Senate's orders promised the PE and their followers that they would not be put to death if they surrendered.
  They did and were held in the Curia Hostilia. The opposing side climbed onto the Curia's roof and pulled-off the roof tiles opening-up holes in the roof. Using the roof tiles they then stoned the 2 PE and their followers to death (like shooting fish in a barrel).   The 1st Curia is the Curia Hostilia which was said to be built by Rome's 3rd King (Tullus Hostilius 673-642BC).   In 80BC Sulla enlarges this Curia after he increases the number of Senators to 600.   A couple years later Sulla gives his retirement speech in this Curia. He says he's going to his villa and write his memoirs. And also he comes out of the closet, he says that he has been the long time lover of a male actor. The Senate is shocked! Not so much that he is Bisexual or Gay but because his lover is an 'Actor' . Actors, Gladiators, slaves, etc are considered below even the lowest Roman social class.    Sulla ordered the death of Julius Caesar when he was a very young man because he refused to divorce his wife and marry Sulla's relative in a political bonding. Caesar fled Rome and over time and with help from the Vestal Virgins Sulla changed his mind. But he wrote in his memoirs that he should have killed Caesar because he just seemed too ambitious and this was years before Caesar (~22) came into any kind of power.   In 52BC this Curia is burnt down during the funeral riots for Clodius. His funeral pyre was built in front of the Curia and the rioters torched the bldg. Clodius was a gang leader/politician and killed in gang war on the Appian Way. 10 yrs earlier he dressed as woman and crashed a Vestal Virgin party at Julius Caesar's *house (*called the Domus Publica, Caesar was Pontifex Maximus) where all males even male animals had to leave beforehand. Caesar divorced his wife over this scandal.    Also in these riot fires the Basilica Porcia was burnt down. It was Rome's 1st Basilica built in 184BC for judicial and business purposes. It was located just to the left of the Curia Hostilia, looking today it would be underground between the Church and the Carcer/Mamertine Prison. It's never mentioned after 52BC so it was probably never rebuilt. 'M. Porcius Cato Censorius' in 185BC; "He bought two houses on the 'stone-quarry alley" and four booths and built there the Basilica which was named 'Porcia' after him."
  In Plautus's Comedy (180BC) which he jokingly writes about the different types of people you can find in the Forum at different locations, says of this Basilica.
"For husbands wasting their wive's fortunes meet in the Basilica and Courtesans with checkered history and fierce cut-throats meet there too".
After the 52BC fire Sulla's son 'Faustus Sulla' starts to rebuild the Curia. He planned to rename it the Curia Cornelia which was their actual family name (Although some sources say that Sulla renamed it the Curia Cornelia after his earlier rebuild and enlargement (80BC).   3 yrs later (49BC) Julius Caesar comes to power as Dictator.   Now Sulla almost had Caesar killed in his youth and Caesar's uncle by marriage (Gaius Marius, a very famous General who mounted his Roman enemies' heads on stakes around the Rostra) had died in 86BC from natural causes while fighting a civil war against Sulla (Caesar was 14).   And Sulla's son was also the son-in-law of the now dead Pompey who Caesar just defeated in their Civil War.
  Caesar built his 'Forum of Julius Caesar' behind this Curia, reorganized the Comitium and moved the Rostra which also now carries his name into the Forum. Now does he really want a newly rebuilt Senate Bldg named after his enemy's family within *his* rebuilding & renaming projects? The answer is No of course , Caesar wants to distance his new building projects from Sulla's and put *his* family name on the Senate Bldg.   But if he just takes-over the rebuilding of the Curia Hostilia/Cornelia and finishes it and calls it the Curia Julia his new name will probably never stick. Because it's the same bldg/same location but just rebuilt, it might legally be written 'Curia Julia' but the people will still call it it's old name out of habit, it's human nature and this does happen often in history and even today.   So Caesar builds a brand new Curia in a different location right next to the old Curia and then turns the older Curia location and bldg started by Sulla's son into the 'Temple of Felicitas'.   Caesar's Curia is also angled different than the Curia Hostilia/Cornelia. Caesar's is to the right and angled to face the Niger Lapis. Whereas the Hostilia/Cornelia was to the left of the Julia and facing the Rostra to the right of the Niger Lapis.   Sulla's son was also enlarging his father's Curia alittle, if completed it's right-front corner would have been where the Julia's left-front corner is. The Curia Julia was burned in 'The Great Fire of 64AD' (Nero's Fire). It was restored by Emperor Domitian (81-96AD), some sources say he restored it in the 80's and others in 94.   I just find it *very odd* that it wasn't restored by Nero in his rebuilding of Rome or by Vespasian or Titus or the 3 short term emperors in 68-69? But instead by Domitian 17-30yrs later?   I've always wondered if this was an historical mix-up with the facts? With so much destroyed in 64AD it was just rebuilt without much fanfare. Also odd that if it wasn't rebuilt by Nero that Vespasian wouldn't rebuilt it. His building projects were 'For The People' (like the Colosseum) and the Senate Bldg would rank up there I'd imagine?   But Domitian did rebuilt it for certain but could it have been after a localized fire in that area rather than the 64AD Fire?   In 283AD the Curia is burned in another great fire, the 'Fire of Carinus'.   It is rebuilt by Emperor Diocletian (284-305AD) and this is the bldg that we see today.   He rebuilds it on the original foundations and puts in a beautiful interior (like the floor). He also adds the 4 buttresses at each corner of the bldg.
  It's a hard read, some sources make it sound like the Curia was gutted but the original foundation and *walls* were used.  And the buttresses were added by Diocletian to support the original walls.   Either that or the original bldg was razed down to the foundations and completely rebuilt.
  Roman walls are thick and they are actually a thick concrete core that is just faced with bricks. The actual wall is really the concrete core.
  It also seems very certain that the Curia was burned in Alaric's Visigoth sacking and burning of Rome in 410AD. An inscription on the adjoining bldg (Secretarium Senatus) shows that that bldg was rebuilt in 412AD after the 410 fire.
  In 630AD Pope Honorius I makes the Curia into the Church of S. Adriano. I don't know when but by the 20thC this Church is abandoned and totally
trashed. The roof has caved-in and the original floor is 20+ft beneath the church's floor.
  Mussolini has this church Desacralized by the Catholic Church. It's excavated and restored (1935-38) back too as close as they can to Diocletian's original bldg.
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Jan 17th, 2006, 04:51 PM
  #18
 
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Walter, I don't want to pressure you. (I'm sure you have a regular job and other obligations like most of us.) However, any more additions to this thread you can make will be greatly appreciated.

I have already printed out just about everything you have written in the past and it all has really filled me in on what I will be seeing in just a few weeks, as well as giving me extra research materials to check out.

Thanks for this and I will definitely be checking back for more!

Linda
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May 1st, 2006, 07:29 AM
  #19
 
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Walter, I knew I'd find your name when I did a search on Roman Forum!
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Mar 4th, 2007, 08:59 AM
  #20
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#9. ROSTRA & POZZI RITUALI (PART 1)
Sorry for the long hiatus , I'll try and finish this in the upcoming
months.  
 Pozzi Rituali are 'Ritual Pits' that tie-in to the 3 Rostra (the Comitium's, Julius Caesar's & Augustus') so I'll start with them.   But 1st I just want to add some info and advice and a correction I said earlier that the wacky Emperor Elagabalus killed his young cousin but he only plotted to kill him. His cousin became Emperor 'Alexander Severus' after Elagabalus was murdered. Alexander was killed by his own troops 13yrs later]
  As I said before you can only get inside the Curia a very short distance, basically just inside the door. So I recommend that when you 1st come into this area and are doing the Temple of Janus and the Comitium area tour if at any point you notice that the crowd is sparse (esp from large tour groups) at the Curia's Doors, jump ahead to the Inside Tour of the Curia and then go back to where you left off.    I have also come across some additional info. In 1955 they excavated beneath the 'Shrine of Vulcan', no human remains, grave goods or tombs were found.
  My guess on those scant remains next to the 'Niger Lapis' that I thought might be the later 'Temple of Janus'. I read an online paper by an Associate Professor at Harvard and published author, he said the 'Temple of Janus' was "adjacent" to the 'Niger Lapis'?   Also I once saw a 100+yr old picture of this site, the ground section of the photo was blocked but that concrete mound was alot bigger and wider.   So perhaps that structure was alot more defined when 1st excavated and the concrete core was removed? Either on purpose or by accident thinking it was a later Medieval structure's foundation (both have happened before in the early Forum excavations)? I mention this because of this map of the early excavation shows the remains of a bldg right there. It shows a sq. base structure that certainly seems to be surrounded by a fence. (#5 is the Niger Lapis and this structure is just to the right of it). http://img366.imageshack.us/img366/6322/forum1ue.jpg POZZI RITUALI (Ritual Pits)
  Ok now, walk back over to the Custodian Shack/so-called Temple of Janus. Look towards the Arch, to the left of it in the Forum Sq. is what looks
like a long, high, brown stone wall.
  That is the Rostra, a stage speaking platform. Now I want you at the rail fence of the Custodian Shack looking at the *center* of the Rostra.
  Now look at your feet, slowly bring your eyes up. In the Via Sacra there are 4 missing paving stones forming a straight line across the Via Sacra. Basically from the rail fence over to the slight left of that tall marble pedastal base. Easy to spot, the missing paving stones form a perfect dirt square/rectangle among the odd shaped paving stones.    Still against the fence line yourself up with them and look towards the Rostra, notice just past that tall marble pedastal slightly to the left of it is a rail fence forming a square around a brick-lined hole. Keep that in mind for later.
Ok back to our 4 dirt squares in the Via Sacra, they are 4 of 6 'Pozzi Rituali' (Ritual Pits).
***I mentioned them earlier as a series of covered holes in which possibly the remains of sacrificed animal's (burned?) entrails (intestines) or organs might have deposited after being used by the Priests to look for signs from the Gods in them.   But since then I came across this info from 19C excavation that DOES put animal bones in the Comitium's Pozzi Rituali at the end of the Republic.   These pits were the ones covered-over by Julius Caesar's paving-over of the old Comitium and so were frozen in time since the 40's-BC.
  From the 'Topography of Ancient Rome' (in the Public Domain for decades) "When discovered most of the Pits on the Comitium were filled with rubbish of the End of the Republic, in which fragments of bones, POTSHERDS, etc".
Ok, this is what Boni* had to say about the Potsherds and he was *The Man* when it came to excavating the Roman Forum. "They contained great numbers of Chalice-Shaped terra cotta vessels, such as might have been used for pouring libations. Boni believes that these pits had some religious significance and terms them Pozzi Rituali". (*Commendatore Giacomo BONI (1859-1925) Italian architect, archaeologist, Director excavations in the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill (buried there), Member- Superior Council of Antiquities & Fine Arts, Minister of Public Instruction, Royal Commissioner- Monuments of Rome.) Also *if* the burned organic entrails were deposited in them 2000yrs ago no evidence could be *seen* in the 19C.   But with today's technology microscopic trances could be found I'd assume?   Also I could be wrong but I thought I once read of a 19C excavation of one of the Pozzi Rituali by the Basilica Julia in which potsherds were also found?
Go to http://img366.imageshack.us/img366/6322/forum1ue.jpg See 6 of them labeled as 'Pits (Doliola)'. I'll have to look for that lone pit to the right of the line next time I'm in the Forum. I just discovered this photo and what is really interesting is on the other side of the Forum there is a row of pits with a lone pit off to the side like in that photo but that lone pit is intact and actually in the Forum.  These Pits were in front of the Comitium Rostra and excavations under the Comitium place these Pits 6.75m/22ft in front of the Rostra. So if you line yourself up and stand between the 3rd & 4th Pit facing the Comitium, you can see roughly where this Rostra stood and the angle it faced the Forum Sq. at.
  Now when Julius Caesar built his new Rostra in the Forum Sq. he needed new Pits in that area.
  Look at the Rostra what you are seeing was built by Augustus but if you chop the front 10m off it you will be at the Rostra built by Caesar. Caesar's was just as long but very narrow, Augustus enlarged upon it making it more like a stage.
  Walk over to the right of the large pedastal base (you will backtrack to this pedastal base later on after the Rostra tour) and look into the Forum at that small square fenced-in area surrounding a modern brick-lined hole (results of modern excavations of the Pits).   To the right of it are 2 more brick-lined holes which are filled-in with no fence.
 Also between the 1st fenced-in one and the pedastal base was the where the 1st one in the line was located (based on earlier photos).   Those are 4 of 6 of the Pozzi Rituali that were for the narrower Julius Caesar Rostra. When Augustus enlarged the Rostra by 10m *it's claimed* he built-over the other 2 of the 6 Pits. And he put in 6 new Pits directly in front of his Rostra.
    But Caesar it seems instead of putting his Pits directly in front (left to right) like at the Comitium Rostra and this later Augustus Rostra put his on a 45deg angle. This angle lines-up his Pits with the older Pits that were in front of the older and now replaced Comitium Rostra.
  So it seems that the 6 original Comitium are in line with the 6 new Julius Caesar Rosta pits making a straight line of 12.   Also 6 Pits seems to be the magic number with these lines of Pits, so perhaps lining his 6 Pits up to these older 6 Pits was symbolic?   Now walk over to between the other marble base (sq. with people sculptured on the sides and a round column base on top of it) and the Rostra.   Look across the Forum in front of the extended Augustus' Rostra, there are 6 Pits in line directly in front of the Rostra.   But only two are really visible, they are the 2nd and 3rd Pit. Follow the line of the Julius Caesar Pits towards the Rostra and you will see the 2nd Pit which is just 4 paving stones forming a dirt square in the center x. And just past it the 3rd Pit formed the same way meaning a paving stone on the top, bottom and one on each side []x[].   What's interesting is Augusus' 2nd Pit lines up perfectly with where Julius Caesar's 2nd Pit should be?   It seems that Augustus tied Caesar's 6 Pits in with his own 6 pits. Symbolicly tying-in the Comitium Rostra Pits and the Julius Caesar's Rostra Pits with the Augustus' Rostra Pits?   Basically 12 pits in line ============ with Augustus' 6 pits cutting thru at an angle // and both sharing their 2nd pit
 [Rostra]=/=/==========[Shack].  
 It looks like Julius Caesar's 1st Pit would be completely or partially built-over by the front of the Augustus Rostra?
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