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Rome: ParadiseLost's Roman Forum Walking Tour (Part 2)

Rome: ParadiseLost's Roman Forum Walking Tour (Part 2)

Old Aug 10th, 2008, 02:13 PM
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Rome: ParadiseLost's Roman Forum Walking Tour (Part 2)

I'm afraid the original or Part 1 is getting so long that it might someday just stop accepting additions.
So just in case I'm going to post this Part 2 URL to the original which is here http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34713215 OR http://tinyurl.com/6d699r
So please just let this sink to the bottom where I can retrive it someday if need be. Regards, Walter
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Old Jun 18th, 2011, 01:35 PM
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6 yrs and you're STILL NOT FINISHED!!!
I will try AGAIN to finish this once and for all.


Ok now, look behind (east) the Hole and you will see a small equestrian pedestal base with some short column fragments lying on the rightside (south) of the raised base.
��This isn't your view of it, you would be standing over on the middle right edge of the photo;
http://www.tesoridiroma.net/galleria...tantino_01.jpg OR http://tinyurl.com/6je22z
�It's *possible* that this is the base for the bronze equestrian statue of 'Constantine the Great' (Equus Constantini).

In 312AD Constantine kicked Emperor Maxentius butt and became Emperor of the Western Roman Empire and the 1st (semi-)Christian Emperor.

And in 324 became the Emperor of both the Western and Eastern Empires. He also built the 1st St. Peter's Basilica.

In 334AD Anicius Paulinus (Consul Ordinarius & Praefectus Urbi) dedicated an equestian statue of Constantine in the middle of the Forum Sq.

Whether this is that statue's pedestal base is not known for certain but it did have a very honorable location which was directly centered on axis with the 'Late Imperial Rostra' which occupied the eastern end of the Forum Sq.

�That Rostra was mostly mistakenly destroyed during the early excavations thinking that it was a Medieval bldg.
The pedestal is of very shoddy workmanship even for Constantine's time (remember Rome is in decline and the real power now lies in the west... Constantinople).

The concrete and brick core sits directly on the Forum pavement with 3 reused blocks of travertine forming the top.
And on top of the travertine blocks cut fragments of marble columns were placed (I assume those lying on the ground next to the base, reused Numidian Yellow columns).

�Times are tough, I wonder if the bronze equestian statue was really cast just for Constantine or a reused older statue just renamed?

Before you leave this area which is the only section where you can actually stand in the fenced-off Forum Sq. just try to imagine.
�In the ~1200yrs from the draining of the marsh and turning this into dry land to the last monument dedicated in 608AD what went on here and who walked upon this football field size area.

�Become part of the crowds cheering Rome's latest victory or trembling at the news of a defeat.
�The riots, civil wars, invasions, politican murders and the military triumphs that happened here.
�Kings, dictators, Emperors, historcal figures, etc addressing the cheering, jeering or fearful crowds gathered here and where many historical persons had their funerals.
�And a million untold stories of those who walked over this same Square be they royality, slave, citizen, rich, poor, lover, villian, saint, etc.

�'The Butterfly Effect' of what happened or didn't happen here severely impacted how our modern World turned-out.

March 15, 44BC late morning; Julius Caesar's litter passes thru the Forum Sq. in his hand is a note that was just given to him that warns him that he will be assassinated at the Senate meeting. He never read the note.
If he had read it while passing thru the Forum, the World's history as we know it would have been drastically changed right-up to the present day.
And you would not be reading this because I never existed and neither do you.
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Old Jun 18th, 2011, 03:33 PM
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So leave this little nook in the Forum Sq. and turn left on the Via Sacra and walk to the brick remains (a small bldg) just after the last of the 7 Honorary Column Bases [SE corner of the Forum Sq.].

It actually looks like a slightly larger version of an 8th Column Base which early excavators thought it was.

But it is the remains of the southern-end of a Rostra that occupied this end of the Forum Sq.

Except for this end it was mistakenly dismantled/destroyed in 1887 by Pietro Rosa during his Forum excavations, he thought it was a later Medieval bldg...oops!

It was a long concrete and brick-faced structure and the section that survives today has an inner staircase that would lead to the top of this Rostra (it's likely that another staircase was at the opposite end).

The brick facing likely had a white stucco finish to give the appearance of marble.

Today a rectangular patch of grass is grown to show the outline of this structure and it is also surrounded (on the ground) by some of the molded marble plinths that adorned this Rostra.

Who built it is not positively known but narrowed down to the Early 4C by either Diocletian, Maxentius or Constantine.

Some 19C/early20C archaeologists believed it was the 'Rostra ad Divi Julii' (Rostra of Divine Julius [Caesar]) built by Augustus.

And they claimed that later it was completely rebuilt in ~Early-4thC in an attempt to explain why the brickstamps show that 4C time period.

But this is totally wrong because it was based on an ancient sources that say *a* Rostra was *in front* of the 'Temple of Divus Julius' (Divine Julius Caesar).

This is true but the Rostra and the Caesar Temple are the same structure.
A large rectangular podium/base 3.5m high was built to elevate the Temple.

The Temple is set-back on this elevated podium so the area in front that faces the Forum Sq. is wlde open, creating an elevated Rostra. Rostra[], Steps|||, Temple[T]...[]|||[T].

Bottomline: Why would Augustus build 3 Rostra in a row esp since this one would block-out the 2nd one at the Temple?
Plus zero physical evidence (brickstamps, etc) linking this structure to Augustus' reign ~300yrs earlier.

One reason we don't know much about it is because it was built in the declining era of the Western Roman Empire (Rome) and the real power is in the Eastern Roman Empire (Constantinople).

The most logical choice is that this is the 'Rostra Diocletian'.

In 283AD a major fire destroys much of the Forum 1 yr before he becomes the Eastern Emperor.

In 303 he rebuilds the Curia, Basilica Julia, etc and puts 5 columns on the old Rostra and very likely builds this new Rostra with matching 5 columns.

Now on the rightside of this remaining Rostra structure there is a rectangular marble statue base (~2m long) with an inscription.
On top of this base are holes where statues of the 3 Rulers were attached.

Also on top of this base is a smaller square marble cube with a nice design on it.
I doubt they are connected it was most likely just placed there by the early excavators of the Forum to display it but it is likely that it was part of this Rostra.

The inscription reads;

This translation is modern rearrangement of the inscription and easier to understand;

DEDICATION BY LUCIUS VALERIUS SEPTIMIUS BASSUS WHO IS THE 'PRAEFECTUS URBI' (Prefect of Rome; like a Mayor 379-383AD) [These next 2 are step-brothers]
TO FLAVIUS GRATIANUS (Emperor & co-Emperor of the West/Rome 367-383 & 375-383; troops deserted him, later assassinated by inner circle officer)
(co-Emperor West 375-392; palace suicide but most likely murdered by his General)
AND THEODOSIUS I (co-Emperor and the last sole Emperor of the East & West in the last 5 months of his life 379-395, proclaimed Catholic as the one true Christian religion and in 391 banned Paganism and shut down their temples.

Turn around and look at the Shrine of Vesta, on his orders the sacred fire that has burned for ~1000yrs is allowed to burn-out and the Vestal Virgins are 'kicked to the curb'.

Info + photo half way down this page:
Close-up photo: www.flickr.com/photos/boakes/3371479126/
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Old Jun 18th, 2011, 04:26 PM
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Ok now, we are next going to check-out the street between the Temple of Castor and the Basilica Julia.

Its name 'Vicus Tuscus' means 'Street of the Etruscans'.

We'll go with the legend 1st: The soldiers of the Etruscan Chief Caelius Vibennus who was an ally of Romulus settled in this area.

They were on the Caelian Hill (named after Chief Caelius) but the suspicious Romans didn't want them to have the high ground (a hill) and wanted them closer to keep an eye on them.

Another possibility was, it was inhabited by Etruscan refugees.

But more likely it was just named after Etruscan workmen who were building the Temple of Jupiter (C6-BC) on the Capitoline Hill and that was where they lived.

The street leads to the Circus Maximus and was used for parades esp during the Ludi Romani (Roman Games), when statues were carried down from the Capitoline Hill to the Circus.

During the Republic it was lined with wealthy houses and shops (bookshops are mentioned) and in later years by commercial storage bldgs (Horrea).

It had a bad rep for having young thieves hanging nearby looking for their next victim.
Plautus wrote in ~194BC "Behind the Temple of Castor are those whom you would do ill to trust to quickly.
In the Vicus Tucsus are those worthies who sell themselves, either to those who turn themselves or give others a chance to turn" (male prostitutes?).

Somewhere at the beginning of this street stood a very ancient and famous bronze statue of Vortumnus (God of seasons, change and plant growth, he is also a shapeshifter.
It's famous because the legend claims it was made by the mythical sculptor Veturius Mamurius who made 11 copies of the shield that fell from Heaven for the 2nd King of Rome.
The statue is long gone but the inscribed pedestal was found in 1549 but is now lost.

Now start down the street, check-out the fragment remains on the side of the Temple/Castor and the steps of the Basilica Julia for games.

Halfway down the side of the Basilica Julia you will see a modern door.
It's a maintenance access to the Cloaca Maxima below, if it's quiet you can hear the water running thru the ancient sewer.

Somewhere behind this Basilica in the unexcavated area just outside the Forum where the modern bldgs and streets rise up, there was a Greek Slave market (Greek slaves are highly prized as domestic, educational, business, etc servants) also a barber shop is mentioned in that location.

The Temple of Augustus (exact location unknown) was built by Tiberius and possibly his mother Livia (Augustus' wife) in honour of Augustus. Tiberius might not have finished it, or might not have dedicated it, in which case it was finished and/or dedicated by Caligula.

The large structure behind the Temple of Castor was wrongly ID'ed as this Temple in the late 19thC, so the plaque you see there is wrong.
And it is also wrongly placed on the otherside of the Temple of Castor because a groundlevel concrete base that supported a bldg was found there.

Odds are it was located alittle farther down the Vicus Tuscus (rightside) and fronting the Vicus but now any remains are buried beneath the modern city level.
The hint for that location is that Caligula's rooftop bridge crossed-over from the Palatine Hill *to* the Temple of Augustus according to ancient historians.

After you pass the side of the Basilica Julia and the trees you will likely see the queue for the bathroom/W.C.

In front of this WC are two brick pier ruins.
There was a side street that connected the Vicus Tuscus to the Vicus Jugarius (the parallel street on the otherside of the Basilica Julia that I mentioned earlier).

These 2 brick piers were once clad in marble and formed an arch across the beginning of this street, giving this short street a nice monumental entrance.

Look closely esp at the left pier and you can see the small bronze(?) nails that held the marble slabs in place also small bits of marble remains.

�~2005 I took a private tour at the group rate (the others didn't make it) with Tom R. co-founder of the American Institute of Roman Culture which had just completed an excavation of this area http://www.romanculture.org/PROJECTS.../progress.html (Trench D) he is also the founder of Scala Reale which is now Context Rome.

I'm relying on memory and do not wish to misquote Tom so I'm not going to use his last name so it doesn't come-up in a Google search or those 'spider' thingies.

On top of the left pier a baby or small child's tomb was found, I believe it was Medieval.
I assume it was like the tombs cut into the brick front of the Curia Julia and then bricked-over?

The right pier had an original doorway built into it, the bottom half is still below groundlevel.

They think that this arch was going to block access to one of the older shops that lined this street so the shop was accomodated with a doorway.

This street was called the Vicus Unguentarius or the 'Street of the Perfume Sellers'. (So keep that in mind as you pass between the arch's 2 brick piers and into the odorous WC .
The Romans loved a good scent and these were high-end shops.

Later in time (medieval era?) this arch was likely turned into a dwelling and/or a shop with a new floor put in.
On each pier you can see holes for wooden beams that made the interior of the arch into 2 floors. Possibly that child's tomb was built in his parent's dwelling?

Ok now, leave the WC and walk 45deg to the right and over to that fence.
That is still the Vicus Tuscus leading to the Circus Maximus.

On the Palatine Hill side of that street is the 'HORREA AGRIPPIANA' built at the end of the 1stC-BC by Augustus' son-in-law and closest friend Marcus Agrippa (an altar was discovered there with an inscription recording the erection of the 'Statue of the Genius Horreorum Agrippianorum').

It was a large grain warehouse built around 3 courtyards each with 3 storys of rooms.
So you're looking at the 1st courtyard and where the church (San Teodoro) is, is the 2nd courtyard and the 3rd courtyard is beyond that.

High on the walls are holes, horizonal & diagonal cuttings these were later adaptations of this bldg some as recent as the 1800's.

Ok now, look at that *very large structure* on your left, that you are standing in front of.

In guidebooks it's usually called 'Domitian's Hall' or 'Hall in Opus Latericium' (26m buttressed walls in brick-faced concrete), it is also signposted *wrongly* as the 'Temple of Augustus' which it was believed to be in a 19thC excavation.

Let's start from before this Hall was built. On top of the Palatine Hill in front of you was the 'Tiberius' Palace complex' (btw the word palace comes from Palatine) and after Tiberius' death (AD14-37) Caligula (AD 37-41) moved in.

And he built the 1st extension outward from the Palace area called the 'Domus Gai'.

On top of this extension he had a garden, think of it like a patio to his palace complex.

After Caligula was murdered the guards entered the palace complex and killed his wife and infant daughter.
His uncle Claudius (Emperor 41-54AD) in fear of his life hid in *a* garden 1st but then went into the palace area and hid behind a curtain (like a comedy act his feet stuck-out and he was discovered.
I wonder *if* that was the garden?

Emperor�Domitian (AD 81-96) built over the Domus Gai and it's his larger extension that we see today.
(If you have an interest in these huge extension-platforms visit the opposite corner of the Palatine Hill and be awed by the 'Severan Arcades' which must be seen at their base)

But he was assassinated before it was completed if it ever was? It might have been roofed over (wooden).
Also the front facade (arcades or columns) has either been lost or was never built.

The interior was meant to be lined with marble framing the tall niches in the walls but it never was finished.

But then again it might have had a vaulted roof and the walls were lined in marble. As you can see the sources differ and differ again.

This Hall has been wrongly ID'ed (wrong location) as Hadrain's Athenaeum (117-138AD).

Or *it* was called an Athenaeum (library) when Domitian built it because this was the site of a Cult of Minerva and she was the patron goddess of scholarship and this Hall was the 'Sanctuary of Minerva'.

Here military diplomas with the names of soldiers who retired with honors were displayed.

Or it might have been a vestibule entrance to the palace above but never finished.

And latter under Hadrain this unfinished shell of a bldg was converted into a Horreum (small warehouse) with storerooms and offices along the walls and a paved courtyard in the middle, making it in essence part of the Horrea Agrippiana.

The 5 short walls in front of the Hall are the remains of shops which lined the Vicus Tuscus.

And behind the far wall was another smaller room with a portico.
In the 6th-C the Church of Santa Maria Antiqua was built there and still remains. Inside are rare 7C-8C Christian wall paintings.

As you leave this area be sure to look between the Temple of Castor and this Hall, you will see the 'Oratory of the Forty Martyrs' in the back that we will get to later.

Also imagine Caligula blocking this street and building a staircase down to the Temple of Castor as a shortcut from the Palatine so he could converse with the Gods Castor and Pollux.
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Old Jun 29th, 2011, 10:26 AM
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This is great Walter, I can't wait for you to finish these. I have everything you've done so far and I put it in a Word doc to use on my trip there tomorrow. Can't wait to read it and experience it all first hand.
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Old Aug 15th, 2013, 03:43 PM
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Just wondering if anyone has heard from Walter recently? This is such a fabulous thread, and he is such an incredible source for history and archaeology info. I've been on and off Fodors for a few years (two kids under 2!) and haven't kept in touch with Fodorites like I used to.
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Old Aug 15th, 2013, 03:49 PM
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He's no longer registered on Fodor's which makes it hard to search for his threads now. He didn't post for a long time as I think he had computer issues, but was on the forum sometime within the last year or so. Perhaps he's on Thorntree.
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Old Aug 15th, 2013, 03:57 PM
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Thanks ky. I noticed he wasn't registered and feared the worst. I will check Thorntree some time.
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Old Sep 10th, 2013, 08:45 AM
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1st off 'Don't Ask'. But I am going to finish this walk and with permission.


Ok, you've left the Vicus Tuscus now walk back over to the #17.8 LATE IMPERIAL ROSTRA.

Now with the Roman Forum Square at your back & looking East that is the 'Temple of Divi Juli (Divine Julius)' and it marks the spot where Julius Caesar (JC) was cremated by the Mob on 44BC.

It seems this area was once just a continuation of the Roman Forum Square, so an open space with very likely statues and such and possibly an outdoor Tribunal for trials.
This would just be a small elevated platform where the Judge(s) would be seated.

On March 18, 44BC 3 days after the assassination during JC's outdoor funeral Marc Antony gives his famous eulogy speech that Fires-up the massive Mob from the Rostra at the opposite end of the Forum.

The Mob storms the Rostra and takes possession of JC's funeral bier (a very elaborate decorated litter) and decides to build a funeral pyre and honorably cremate JC in the Roman Forum in front of the Regia which is a building where his office is as Pontifex Maximus (Head Priest).

The Mob loots nearby buildings for wooden chairs, desks, etc and piles them up and puts JC's bier on top and cremates it.

A short time later an Altar and 20ft Column of Numidian Yellow inscribed with PARENTI PATRIAE (To The Founder Of The Nation) is erected on the cremation spot.
But this is soon destroyed by the anti-Caesar Faction.

In 42BC Mark Antony, Octavian (Augustus) and Lepidus all co-Rulers of the Empire decreed a Temple shall be built on that location.
The Temple is finally built and dedicated in 29BC, 2yrs after Octavian became Emperor Augustus the sole ruler of the Empire.

You are now standing on a short street that connected the Via Sacra which runs on each side of the Roman Forum Sq.�Emperor Augustus put in this street || when he built this Temple. [Forum]||[T]

The Romans like to have a marked-off area in front of temples as a sacred boundary when possible and it could just be say a pavement, fence or a stone curb (like the one if front of you).

The people had access to this area but the everyday foot traffic would use the street when passing-by.

Notice alongside this street in the middle of this boundary there is a ~3m rectangular statue base. It is the base for some unknown equestian statue, it could be original to this site but it could also have been erected decades->centuries later.

Ok, step into this boundary area and have a seat.
This long wall-like structure in front of you has a semi-circular recess in the center under a tin roof where the remains of the concrete core of a round Altar is located, the majority belief is that it marks the location of Julius Caesar's cremation bonfire.

Now it is a fact that this is THE location of that funeral pyre. Is was definitely at that end of the Roman Forum Square and *deliberately* built in front of the Regia (bldg behind this structure).

Was that Altar later erected with this structure exactly where that funeral pyre was? There's a very good chance it was based on the limited space and the need to keep the flames away from the Regia.

The wall structure is a modern (~100yrs) reconstruction as are most of the 2 steps and the molding on the 2nd step.
The steps and molding along the base are modern cement reconstructions (on the left) but there are original pieces of molding and steps incorporated into the reconstruction and very easy to spot (center and right).

The rough tufa wall section in front of the recess is original as is the round concrete altar base behind the wall and most/all of the stone blocks that make-up the semi-circular recess are also.

There are original decorative marble remains displayed on top of the wall and alongside both sides of the Temple (on the leftside - fragment remains of the temple's coffered ceiling).

Ok lets try to picture this original structure.
1st they made a large (27m+) concrete rectangular aboveground base/foundation with rooms in it }++] (3.5m rostra front, 5.5m elevated temple area rear).

The rooms make voids in the concrete core so alot less concrete and used as office and storage rooms which is common in elevated temples.

On the left and right side of this concrete "base" they built a columned portico, Romans love porticos they are a shelter from the rain and sun and make a building more beautiful looking. And in this case more floor space atop the structure which is the business part of this building with a Temple and Rosta.

So at the front on this elevated structure we have the groundlevel Altar} and above that the 'Rostra ad Divi Juli' and behind that the steps to the elevated Temple. ROSTRA`}:: STEPS`||| TEMPLE`X }:||X]

So using your imagination (and perhaps 'google images' beforehand as there are many drawings of this intact Temple structure) picture this.

The round concrete Altar in the recess would definitely have been beautifully marble faced with decorative designs and/or inscriptions. And coin images show that fire was burning within it with the flames raising above it.
I assume this was done for ceremonies and/or sacrifices and not an eternal flame type thing as it is an outside altar.

Now for some reason this wide open recess was later blocked-off by a wall of stone blocks (a good portion of it remains today)? ��And it seems more likely compared to the other options that Emperor Augustus ordered this done sometime between the temple's completion (29BC) and his death (14AD).

Dio Cassius wrote of this;
"...And they enacted that no one who took refuge in his shrine to secure immunity should be driven or dragged away from there--a distinction which had never been granted even to any one of the gods, save to such as ever worshipped in the days of Romulus.Yet after men began to congregate in that region even this place had inviolability in name only, without the reality; for it was so fenced about that no one could any longer enter it at all."

This seems to be what he is talking about and many historians agree. Greek and Roman "Rights of Asylum" could be temples, shrines, altars, etc.
But this was more in theory than in practice.

If it was the actual temple just lock the doors like any other temple.
If it was the Rostra part there seems to have been 2 narrow staircases in the portico sections, just put in a locked gate.

Anyway for some reason during Pagan times this beautiful historical Altar was walled-off.
"...after men began to congregate in that region..."???
Men "congregate" all over the Roman Forum hanging-out playing 'board games' etched into the steps and pavements and just lounging around that's a well-known fact.
There are even a couple of 'Hole Games' :::: on the steps to the right of the recess that these male lay-abouts played.

So Why did that small recess have to be blocked-off because of them? Well you could walk completely around that Altar in the recess and when behind it be somewhat hidden from view.
Were they using this reverved spot as a bathroom, as the male saying goes "The World is our Urinal"?
Or perhaps for sex after dark with straight or Gay prostitutes?

After Augustus beat Antony and Cleopatra's fleet at the 'Battle of Actium' in 31BC he took the captured ship's bronze prows or rostra and mounted them on the wall on each side of the recess.
You must have seen this sea battle in the movies, it's where Cleopatra's ship flees the battle and Marc Antony leaves his men behind and goes after her. Ahhh...Love and the fact that she had the treasury on her ships.

Now it seems likely that on each side of these visible remains where the porticos are missing is where the staircases were to access this elevated structure =[````U````]=

And the Rostra would have some kind fencing along the front and around the recess which is shown in coin images. [X][X][X]
And this would be where the speaker would stand to address the crowds.
The most famous one from here was in 14AD when Emperor Tiberius gave Emperor Augustus' funeral eulogy.

And behind this were steps to an elevated Temple with a colossal statue of Julius Caesar with a comet/star on his head.
And when the temple's doors were open you could see statue from the Forum Sq.

And inside the temple Augustus placed treasures from his war spoils and some priceless paintings of the day.
Well Augustus was Caesar's adopted son, Caesar give him the Roman Empire so a temple and some war spoils was the least he could do.

And the comet on Caesar's head plus there is also one on the temple's pediment, talk about Luck!

Octavian (later Emperor Augustus) is an 18yr old kid and Marc Antony is a war veteran with an army and is not pleased that Caesar make Octavian his heir and adopted Son.
The Senate possibly plans to just use him against Antony because Octavian has the loyality of Caesar's troops and then later dump him perhaps by assassination.
And Antony also wants him out of the way so he can take over the Empire.

Octavian was in Greece when Caesar was killed (March) and doesn't arrive in Rome until May as he's been doing some PR work with his inherited troops.

Octavian decides to hold Games in Julius Caesar's Honor during the month named after him July.
And during these Games (July 20-30) a Comet appears in the daylight sky before sunset.

Well obviously the Gods are pleased as they sent a Comet in Caesar's Honor and he Must really be Divine! And Octavian starts calling himself 'Divi Filius' (Divine Son). Caesar's Divine, he adopted Octavian and the Comet is the A-OK from the Gods.

Now in front of this structure Pliny claims that there was a large equestrian statue of Julius Caesar and official documents were posted on its base.
And the *translated* original (100+yrs) excavation reports mentions that a large (equestrian size) "concrete" base was found in front of this recess dating to the time of Augustus' construction of this structure.

Now as you can see and might likely be sitting on very large stone (marble?) blocks of which it seems some might be missing directly in front of this recess?
These huge stone blocks didn't just fall out of the sky and they took alot of work to make and place there plus the cost. But I have never heard/read of them ever being mentioned which is very odd.
They are in the *exact* location in an area with very limited space where logically a large equestrian statue would only be placed?

I have to believe that this is the "concrete" base that the early excavators mentioned and it was either an original minor mistake in their notes when archaeologists were excavating the entire Roman Forum or a later mistranslation mistake when the massive excavation report translated? Either way just imagine that there was a large equestrian statue of JC facing the Roman Forum in front of this structure.

They don't know what happened to the temple after the Christians took over, it was possibly converted into something or other but in the 16thC like most of the ancient buildings it was looted for new Papal buildings materials (stone blocks, steps, columns, etc) and the marble was burned in the Limekilns.
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Old Sep 10th, 2013, 09:08 AM
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Ok, now on the right (south) of the Temple of Julius Caesar is the massive 'Temple of Castor and Pollux' with the 3 tall (14.8m) Corinthian columns with an intact architrave on top, these date to the 6AD restoration and an iconic photo of the Forum.
During the Renaissance the street running by here was called the 'Via Trium Columnarum' (Street of 3 Columns).

This temple was dedicated to a Greek mythical twins from the Greek cult 'Dioscuri' (sons of Zeus).

Greek version; Their Mom is the mortal Queen of Sparta and Dad is the God Zeus (Roman God Jupiter).
Zeus takes the form of a swan and seduces the Queen and she has these twin boys (Castor and Pollux), later she has their sister 'Helen of Troy'.
Pollux takes after Dad and is immortal and a great boxer.
Castor takes after Mom and is mortal and a great horseman.
Both are great mythical warrior/soldiers and centuries later adopted by the Romans.

This cult was introduced to Rome very early (a plaque from the 2nd half of the 6thC-BC written in Archaic Latin has been found) and accepted, it's normally against Roman law for a foreign cult temple to be in this Forum area.

Roman version: Castor (mortal) and his twin brother Pollux (immortal) were demi-gods and semi-mythical cavalry heros whose father was Jupiter (Greek Zeus).

These 2 magically appeared on white horses at the height of the Battle of Lake Regillus (15 July ~496/9 BC) resulting in a Roman victory and final defeat of the Latins.
And then right afterwards these 2 magically appeared at the LACUS JUTURNAE (Spring of Juturna) on the east side of this temple where they were watering their horses and telling of the Roman Victory ~13 miles away.
And the Roman Dictator, Aulus Postumius Albinus, vowed to build a temple in their honour.

The temple was finished by his son in 484 BC. It was completely reconstructed and enlarged in 117�BC by L.�Cecilius Metellus Dalmaticus after his victory over the Dalmatians.
And later restored in 73�BC where Cicero claimed that during the urban Praetorship of Verres; 'He found a way to amass a large amount of money by putting out contract work that was actually useless' (like the columns aren't straight).
Stealing money thru government contracts, I'm shocked.

A major Fire in 14BC destroyed the temple and Tiberius (then heir to Augustus) rebuilt it and in 6AD it was dedicated.
This Tiberius rebuilding is what you see today except the for massive foundation which is from the 117BC reconstruction.

The temple front was also used for a orator's platform like a Rostra from ~150BC, it would be like the Rostra of Julius Caesar with the Temple behind that with narrow side stairs on each side but these likely faced backwards.
This would be so the crowds or mob couldn't easily storm the speaker's platform if they got riled-up.

Mid-1C-BC�Clodius and his men during a riot in the Forum fortified themselves in the temple and broke-up these steps to make access difficult.

Julius Caesar when co-Consul spoke from this platform advocating his 'Agrarian Law' and again when the recall of Cicero from exile was proposed.
Many other political struggles were also argued from this platform.

The temple was sometimes used as a meeting place (Curia) for the Senate.

In the early 3C AD front steps were added like a regular temple usually has so it went from this [XX:] to this [XX:]|||.
These steps cut into a good section of the Via/Street in front as we will see next at the Arch of Augustus.
The marble steps are gone (except some around the left corner) but the concrete sloping core of this staircase remains.

Which brings us to a small mystery site centered directly across the street from the temple. It's just a small slightly elevated rectanglar area with 4 steps and short column pieces/fragments, just a very odd and out of place location with no record of its existance or purpose.
Whether the standing ~2m column and the other shorter pieces were part of this structure or during the 19C excavations where just placed there is unknown.
I'd go with the later as its was done all over the Forum because afterall the place is a Ruin with bits and pieces scattered all over the site and would be in the way like on a Via.
Plus there is also large marble decorative fragment that would be to large for such a small structure's roof?

At 1st it was thought to be a Tribunal (an elevated platform for a Judge to sit during outside trials) that was in the area but it was later dismissed by archaeologists.

No one knows exactly what this was but they believe it was somehow connected to this temple.
Perhaps some kind of open-air shrine, altar or monument?

Suetonius-Caligula; "...he built out a part of the Palace as far as the Forum, and making the temple of Castor and Pollux its vestibule, he often took his place between the divine brethren, and exhibited himself there to be worshipped by those who presented themselves."

Alot of what we hear about the Crazy Emperor Caligula were false rumors but an excavation in 2003 behind this temple pretty much confirmed that he actually did build this so he could just walk down from his Palatine Hill Palace into the Temple.

This temple had a large cult following esp Castor with the Roman Knights and the military in general and also travelers.
Every July 15 they had a military parade in honor of the Twins.

Emperor Augustus liked to bring back the old legends, heros and myths of early Rome.
And he did this with Castor and Pollux and even give them another holiday (Jan 27) as a feast day.

And now the Augustus Jinx.

1st he tried to tie-in Castor & Pollux with his teenage heir grandsons and they both died.
Later he tries this with his step-son Tiberius and his brother Drusus as his heirs.
Drusus while on campaign falls off his horse and dies.

As you saw while on the Vicus Tuscus this concrete base/foundation has rooms in it , 25 in all.
Most were connected with the temple including an office for 'Weights and Measures' that they overseen plus offices for money-changers/bankers.
And at some point in time (ancient or possibly Medieval) there was a Dentist's office in one of the rooms, teeth were found in the drain. �

Decrees and Treaties cut on bronze plates were occasionally fixed to the walls of the temple.

In the 16thC Michelangelo used a fallen marble column for the pedestal base of the equestian statue of Marcus Aurelius (Capitoline Hill Museum) and another was used in the Church of S. Maria del Popolo for the statue of Jonah (designed by Raphael and executed Lorenzetti).

They also did that Greek thing (Entasis) where a subtle optical correction where a slight upward curve of the columned sides doesn't make the sides look like they are sagging in the middle (like the Athens Parthenon).

Inside the temple were 2 large statues of Castor and Pollux and a bunch of other statues and a few paintings.

One painting was of a very famous 1C-BC Roman courtesan named Flora.
Plutarch; "And yet Flora is said to have flowered into such beauty, and to have been so famous for it, that when Caecilius Metellus was decorating the temple of Castor and Pollux with paintings and statues, he gave her portrait also a place among his dedications."

Julius Caesar was quite the 'Lady's Man' I wonder if their paths ever crossed as she was having a passionate affair with JC's ally and future enemy Pompey?
An affair that ended in Love Lost for her and possibly him also over a friendship?

Plutarch; "Flora the courtesan, when she was now quite old, always took delight in telling about her former intimacy with Pompey, saying that she never left his embraces without bearing the marks of his teeth. Furthermore, Flora would tell how Geminius, one of Pompey's companions, fell in love with her and annoyed her greatly by his attentions; and when she declared that she could not consent to his wishes because of Pompey, Geminius laid the matter before Pompey. Pompey, accordingly, turned her over to Geminius, but never afterwards had any thing at all to do with her himself, although he was thought to be enamoured of her; and she
herself did not take this treatment as a mere courtesan would, but was sick for a long time with grief and longing."

I once read that one day Pompey was walking by this Temple when someone likely a political enemy atop there purposely dropped a large Roman dagger onto the marble floor, a unique sound that would be easily recognizanced and taken as a threat?
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Old Sep 10th, 2013, 09:31 AM
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Ok now, from in front of the Temple of Castor/Pollux turn left (east) and walk-over to corner of the temple (note the worn step in the Via).

See where the Via Sacra goes between 2 (modern) short brick bases with marble fragments on top (remains of this arch) and the Via bows-up between them like a speed-bump.

This is all that remains of the center passageway of the 3 arched 'Arch of Augustus' (Arcus Augusti) or 'Actium Arch' which was the 1st triple arch in Rome.
Also it wasn't square structure like the other triple arches (Severius & Constantine) |`|T|`| the side arches were lower n|T|n.
(Note the 2 metal plates in front of the left brick base, a modern excavation of 2 of the Pozzi Rituali found in this area) �� ������

The arch was built at the same time (29BC) as the 'Temple of Julius Caesar' and butted against the temple's portico.

This arch replaced one that Augustus had just built here to celebrate the defeat of Sextus Pompey in 36BC at the sea 'Battle of Naulochus' during the Civil Wars when he (Augustus) was allied with Marc Antony and Lepidus.

This newer arch was part of a propaganda campaign to remove the record of the unpopular Civil War and replace it with one of the war against the evil 'Queen of Egypt' (Cleopatra) and the traitor Marc Antony.
So in 31BC Augustus whips Cleopatra and Marc Antony's fleet at Actium and 2yrs later built this arch to commemorate his victory.

The wider central passageway would allow wheeled traffic (Triumphs and commercial) to be able to pass thru and the passageways on each side would be for pedestrian traffic only.

Note the right (south) passageway exited almost right into the Temple of Castor's later (3C) staircase addition.
Also there was a short sidestreet Via that ran alongside the Temple.

On top of this arch was a quadriga (chariot drawn by 4 horses) statue, probably shiny bronze and statues on each of the lower side arches.

On the interior of the arch was the Fasti (marble tablets listing the consuls and generals who had been awarded Triumphal processions). The remains of the Fasti are now displayed in the Museo dei Conservatori (Capitoline Hill Museum in the small room that displays the bronze She-wolf suckling the infants Romulus and Remus).

The central archway was vaulted and the side passages had flat ceilings and a roof ^T^
The center archway was decorated with reliefs as a fragment of 'Victoria' was discovered here.
In 1546 an ~8ft large inscription was found here recording Augustus' 29BC dedication.

On the otherside of the right brick pier there are six blocks of grooved travertine which seems to belong to a circular structure.
This has been wrongly ID'ed as "The" Puteal Scribonianum or Puteal Libonis.

Romans believe that lightning strikes come from the gods therefore sacred. And it seems that there was a famous ground strike in the Forum that they enclosed (named above) with a round stone curb with an decorated marble structure because it resembled a well or 'Puteus' it was called a 'Puteal'.

But this is far too large for a Puteal also that groove is very commonly seen as an exposed rainwater drainage channel at the base row of stones for an outside wall =u.
Plus it invades into the central passageway's Via and the side passageway.
Just an odd place to build something in front of a beautiful Arch if it was done in ancient times?
So they have no idea what this was or why and when these blocks were placed there?

Now between Julius Caesar and his adopted son & heir they have basically surrounded the Roman Forum with their stuff which is great PR for Augustus as planned.
The Rosta, Curia Julia, Portico of Gaius and Lucius, the Parthian Arch which connects the Portico to the Temple of Julius Caesar with Augustus' Arch on the otherside and finally the Basilica Julia.


Ok now still standing next to the Arch of Augustus let's view some hard to see sites in that fenced-off area on the right (south).

Look thru that arched door opening in a wall to the right of that small modern looking bldg.
You can't see much but it's the 'CHURCH OF SANTA MARIA ANTIQUA'.

It was built in the 5thC in a space that was once a monumental approach up to the Palatine Hill Palace.

In 847 an earthquake undermined the structures above it and it was partically buried in the rubble and abandoned.

In 1084 the Normans sacked Rome and set a fire that collapsed more structures which completely buried it.

In 1902 this church was excavated. It has a few frescos dating to the 7th & 8thC which have recently been restored and also 7th & 8thC Church Council decisions were recorded on walls.
In Medieval times it was believed that this abandoned Church was haunted.
It's been planned to be open to the public (reservation only) already but as of now it's still not.

Now that modern looking bldg I mentioned earlier, it's to protect this site.
'ORATORY OF THE FORTY MARTYRS' which was part of that church.

In 303AD during Diocletian's Christian Persecution 40 Christian soldiers were forced into an icy lake or pool in Sebaste, Armenia where they froze to death.

And this ~8thC Oratory was dedicated to them although it was originally Pagan built between 117-138AD for something else.
Inside are 8th and 9thC frescos showing their torture and martyrdom.

Notice the side of that bldg, there is a marble structure like a doorway (2 columns supporting a peaked roof) that is the reconstructed 'AEDICULA OF JUTURNA'.

This Aedicula (shrine) is dedicated to Juturna who was a nymph and goddess of springs and fountains.
This shrine dates to the 2thC AD which replaced an earlier same shrine.
Within the shrine there was a marble statue of Juturna and inscribed on the architrave "Here was the true cult site of the Nymph".
In front of the shrine is an altar and a well-head (plaster casts of the originals).
The altar has 2 figures on it 'Turnus and Juturna' and the well-head's rim is inscribed with the name of the man who dedicated it, 'M. Barbatius Pollo' who was the 'Curule Aedile' at the end of the 1stC-BC.

Now look between you and this shrine, see a lone column and a square basin area made by stone blocks.

That is the 'SPRING OF JUTURNA' (Lacus Juturnae) and tied-in to the Temple of Castor and Pollux as it was here that Castor and Pollux magically appeared and were seen watering their horses after that 496BC battle.

This was a real spring BTW and was used well before the founding of Rome right up until 1st aqueduct was built in 312BC and later when Rome Fell and the aqueducts were destroyed it was again used into early Medieval Times (8thC-AD waterjugs were found here).

The fountain's basin is alittle over 5m x 5m and 2m deep.
In the center of the basin was a square marble platform (1.8M high, 3M long, 2M wide) [``=``] with statues of Castor and Pollux.
The oldest part of the fountain dates to ~164BC.
In front of the fountain stood a round marble well (Augustus era) and an altar (~200AD).

Also the Twins made another magical appearance at the fountain in 168BC after another Roman military victory.

And if you look at the ruins to the right of this site you can see the remains of a ramp going up.
This ramp connected the Roman Forum with the Via Nova which is an elevated street on the lower slope of the Palatine Hill which ran behind the House of the Vestal Virgins.
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Old Sep 10th, 2013, 10:25 AM
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#22. REGIA

Now walk-up the Via a few yards until that small white partial temple is on your right and a groundlevel structure is on your left.

That temple was the round Temple of Vesta where the Vestal Virgins kept a fire burning 24/7/365 and to the rear of that the *original* House of the Vestals
And the structure on the left is the REGIA a religious building [``]~O``````].

In front of you a short distance away are a cluster of trees.
Within those trees was the front door_ of a rectangular Domus (House) facing you. [`_`]

So lets pick the date March 15, 44BC because a few years later Augustus opens-up this area to the public (not the bldgs) and puts in the Via (street) you are now standing on.

But in 44 all these structures are within a walled complex but the Temple of Vesta is visible to the outside World only not accessible to the general public. |--O----|

In the Domus lives the Pontifex Maximus (like a Pope) in charge of the Vestals (in 44BC that is Julius Caesar) and the Regia is his religious office (like a Vatican).

REGIA: 'Regia Domus' means Royal Palace.�

At the lowest excavated level they have found a cluster of round 8th or 9thC-BC huts.
Now remember this section was bordering a diseased marsh (pre-Roman Forum Sq.) but this whole area was used as a cemetery.
I believe(?) these huts were ceremonial (Shrines?) and not human dwellings *IF* they pre-date the draining of the marsh?
No one would live here but they could come during the daylight hours when the Malaria bearing mosquitoes weren't out.

But if the huts post-date the draining of the marsh?
*Tradition* claims that the 2nd King of Rome (Numa Pompilius 715-673BC) built his Royal Palace here and excavations under this site show there was an Estruscan-style residence from *around* that time.
Are these huts it meaning the 1st residence? And is the Estruscan-style residence a later building?

A cup/bowl fragment excavated from this site was dated to 600'sBC and had the word REX (KING) etched on it (Now in the 'Baths of Diocletian' museum).

The Palace was much larger than this Regia area we see today and remains have been found as far-up as the Temple of Romulus. � Bottomline; No one lived here until the Roman Forum marsh was drained via an open ditch.

Tradition claims that Vestal Virgins were the King's daughters and he was in charge of them, if so Kings would have to have daughters so I guess the job was finally contracted-out.

In 509BC the Romans kick-out the last King and become a Republic and a Pontifex Maximus (PM) moves into the Palace and takes-over the Vestal Virgins' religious cult and duties.

In the 500's the Regia is modified a few times and eventually gets the same floor plan we see today, likely by now it is a seperate religious structure that was once part of the earlier King's Palace but now seperate from the Pontifex's House Palace part that he took over (~509BC).

It was possibly burned during the 390BC Gaul invasion and also rebuilt again after the fires in 210BC, 148BC, 36BC.
After this 36BC rebuilding which is what we see today they used solid marble floors & walls and other solid rock blocks and it later withstood Nero's 64AD Fire and another in the 180'sAD.

Ok now walk over to the Regia, those fragments at your feet belong to the Regia.

If you look to your far left at that corner of the Regia you will see a small room with an inscription sitting on top (this room has pavement of black and white marble beneath the dirt & grass also).
This inscription was found built into a mediaeval wall in this room. ORES�PONTIFICVM�ET�FLAMINVM
That half of this inscription was found in�1546 but the whole thing read;
in] honorem domus Augustae kalat[ores pontificium et flaminum].
Basically something like the 'Honorable Office for the Heralds & Attendants of the College of Pontiffs/Priests'.

It's believed that lower officials (heralds, attendants, servants) of the Priests had their offices here at this end of the Regia?
It's also believed that this office space extented out farther to a Via that marked the end of the Roman Forum Sq. and that this office space was removed to build the Temple of Julius Caesar.

A Via has been discovered beneath the JC Temple [```||```] roughly at the same bearing as the Arch of Augustus.
And Forum paving stones were found beneath the front half of the JC Temple so the temple was built at the very end of an older longer Forum Sq., over a short street and into the space of these offices.
This also puts the Altar marking JC's cremation site at a very practical place now for this event?
Ok back to the area in front of you, this is an odd shaped rectangular structure with the leftside long and the rightside shorter.
The rightside had a porch and the front entrance which opened into courtyard but the section right in front of you had 2 rooms seperated by a hallway room which opened into the courtyard and was the access to these rooms [``o``]||[``].�

The room on the right was the 'Sanctuary of Ops Consiva'. Ops was the Goddess of the harvest and wife of Saturn, Consiva means 'she who sows'.
It was considered so holy that no one was allowed to enter it except the Pontifex Maximus and the Vestal Virgins.

When this complex was enclosed there was very possibly a doorway into that hallway on this side to allow the Vestals access without going thru the front entrance?

But the really historical and cool room is the rectangular room on the left it belongs to Mars in which the sacred spears of the God and the shields (ancilia) of the Salii were preserved.
It has a circular grassy mound on it (beneath this mound is a stone circle-2.53m/diameter) this was the altar or hearth that held those Sacred Spears [``o``].

This room was the �Shrine of Mars� (Sacrarium Martis) in which was housed the Hastae (sacred spears/lancers consecrated to Mars) and the Ancilia (shields in a figure-8 like shape).

The God Jupiter (father of Mars who in turn was the father of Romulus and Remus) sent down from heaven a Shield as a gift to Numa Pompilius (2nd King).
Numa was so afraid that the Shield would be stolen, he had 11 perfect copies made.
This way no one would know which one was the actual divine Shield.

It�s believed that the Shields hung on the walls in this Shrine and the Spears were either hung or somehow fastened to that circular altar/hearth within the Temple.
Before going to war the General leading the army went into the temple and rattled/shook the spears, while saying "Mars Vigila" (Mars Awaken).
The God Mars would then lead the army to victory.

BUT if the spears ever vibrated/shook/rattled/moved on their own it was a Bad Omen of something terrible about to happen to Rome.

I�ve read that possibly that the spears were so *delicately balanced* that a very minor earthquake or rumble could vibrate them, like a primitive seismograph. ��OR perhaps even a very loud clap of thunder could get them to vibrate.

History records;
On the evening of March 14, 44BC and a violent thunderstorm rages.
Tomorrow is the 'Ides of March' and Julius Caesar's last day of life.
Julius Caesar enters the 'Shrine of Mars' and I'm guessing but it's very possible his friend and General Marcus Aemilius Lepidus who is 'Master of the Horse' (Commander of the Cavalry) is with him.

Two reasons:
Lepidus is leaving for war in Parthia tomorrow (3 days ahead of Julius Caesar) and would likely want to do the 'Mars Awaken-rattle the Spears' ceremony before he leaves?

And Lepidus and Caesar history records dine together that night.

But while Julius Caesar is in this Shrine the 'Sacred Spears' start to vibrate on their own!

The ancient omen that something bad is about to befall Rome!!!
Tomorrow Julius Caesar is murdered followed by years of Civil War.

Is this just an ancient historical Legend?
Or could the sonic boom from a nearby lightning strike during this violent thunderstorm have actually caused those spears to vibrate on their own... and the Legend is true?
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Old Sep 10th, 2013, 11:32 AM
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Before we go into the Temple and House of the Vestals just alittle info on them.

Vestal Virgins are part of the idea of Rome itself like a family group.

If they lose their viginity it's considered incest and something very bad will befall Rome and it's a death sentence for the Vestal and the man involved.

Also if they ever let the 'sacred fire' go out that is also a bad omen for Rome.

In Man's early history a hut in the center of a village is used to keep a fire always burning and tended to by old women.
At the end of the day�just stop by the Hut and get a lighted twig to light the fire at your hut.
Why waste time with everyone starting their own fires by the wood friction method or wasting wood by keeping multiple unneeded fires burning during the day.

Later it just becomes a Greek religious tradition to always having a sacred fire burning in every city to the Goddess Hestia and the later Romans adopt this custom and the Latin word for Hestia is Vesta.
The Greeks used old women but the Romans used Virgin Priestesses to tend the sacred fire.

If a Vestal lets the Fire go out on her watch she is whipped by the Pontifex Maximus.
A Vestal is pure and cannot be seen naked nor be injured where blood is drawn.
So she is stripped naked and covered by a sheet and likely whipped by a rod that would bruise but not cut into the flesh.

If she loses her virginity or is accused of it she is bound and gagged and put into a covered litter.
She is then paraded thru the streets to just outside a City Gate where there is an underground tomb.
She is given an oil lamp, bread, milk, water, a bed and then entombed.
Man cannot kill a Sacred Vestal and he doesn't, that's why she is given bread and liquids after that's gone it's out of Man's hands now.

This is my take on the Vestal Virgins.
You often hear about the "Six" Vestal Virgins but there were more that lived there (minimum of 18 at least plus retirees).
I assume those "Six" were the senior ones in the last 10yrs of their 30yr commitment and the ones that went to official functions.
They would be the 6 senior leaders of the Vestals in the highest honorable positions they could attain with the eldest as the Head Vestal.

Girls were between 6-10yrs old when chosen and their family got a dowry for them.

The 1st 10yrs they were students learning their duties, rituals, obligations along with reading, writing, etc.

The 2nd 10yrs they performed the actual duties like keeping the Sacred Fire burning 24/7/365.

The 3rd 10yrs they were the teachers of the young girls in training.

After 30yrs they were free to leave (rich) and even marry if they wanted (they were a highly prized older trophy wife) but the majority stayed, it was a good life for a single woman except the "Virgin" part was still required.

20 6-10yr old girls were selected but only 6 were chosen.
The Pontifex Maximus would pick them out with the words "I seize you, beloved".
Originally they had to be of noble birth but later in the Empire it was open to the lower ranks of Free Roman citizens.
Both parents had to be living and scandal-free in their public and private life.
And the young girls had to be physically perfect; eyesight, hearing, speech and not even a slight physical defect on their bodies.

The chosen girls were then brought to the 'Atrium Vestae' (the area to the left of the Temple when you will enter this site).
Their hair was cut-off (later grown back) and used as a votive offering to a tree called the Lotus Capillata that in the 1C Pliny claimed was 500yrs old.

Then the girls are clothed in white and sworn-in as Vestals.
And these new novices all take on the name Amata (The Beloved) for the time being.

Being a Vestal is being a very very powerful woman that is outside the Common Laws for women.
A father has life and death over his children thru-out their entire life (Patria Potestas), that ends when a girl becomes a Vestal.

A woman can't make-out a Will but a Vestal can and if she retires she can pretty much do business like a man.

Vestals can be driven around in a horse drawn carriage which is a *very rare privilege* within the city.
And everyone must get out of their way even if only walking and they have a Lictor leading them.

Messing in any way with a Vestal even if it's a vulgar male 'cat call' (Yo Sweetie) would get you killed.

Only Vestals can and are buried within the City Walls something that hasn't been allowed since the days of the ancient Kings.
Their cemetery has never been discovered and only 1 Vestal funerary plaque has ever been found but that was just reused in a Renaissance building.

If a Vestal by chance happened to cross paths with a person on their way to their execution, she could pardon that person on the spot.

They have a box with reserved seats everywhere theatre, Colosseum, Circus, etc. Funny thing is they can watch Gladiators killing each other, people getting torn apart by wild beasts, executions, etc as long as there is no male nudity.

They are at civil, religious and political ceremonies as part of their duties.
Wills of emperors and nobility, state secrets and documents are given to the for safe keeping.

If called as a witness at a trial their testimony is not questioned and carries Alot of weight.

They also get involved in political conflicts, like when the Dictator Sulla wanted to kill the young Julius Caesar they intervened and he was pardoned.

Chariots are not driven in Rome like in the movies but only in a military Triumphal Parade for the Emperor or a victorious General.
One General kept getting voted down for his Parade, so he went out and got a Chariot and put his Vestal daughter next to him and drove the parade route right into the Forum and up to the Capitoline Hill.
No one would dare stop him or say a word about it.

They must always live a pure and somber lifestyle with no vanity or overt happiness even in private (spied on by other Vestals and the female slaves serving them).

I've read that a total 22 Vestals were condemned to death that we know about. 18 were entombed, 2 committed suicide and 2 unknown.

Of the 2 unknowns, it's *claimed* that 1 was raped by Nero and that Emperor Heliogabalus married the other and later dumped her.

Of those condemned that we know about it was actually more of a political motive because something bad just happened to Rome and they needed a scape-goat to blame something on or an Emperor wanted to take some heat off himself for something or other.

In 216BC at Cannae Hannibal defeated the Roman Army, 2 Vestals entombed.

~100yrs later another Army defeat, 2 Vestals entombed.

Emperor Domitian (81-96AD) likely for the historical fame convinces Celer a Roman Knight to claim he had sex with the Head Vestal and she is entombed.
Bad news for the Knight is it's a capital crime for the man also and Celer as prescribed by Law is flogged to death in the Comitium and while he was being whipped screaming "What have I done? - I have done nothing.".

Emperor Caracalla (211-217AD) Has 4 Vestals condemned to death.
3 are entombed and the other committed suicide by jumping off the Vestal House's roof beforehand.

"The Vestal convicted of incest is buried alive in the neighborhood of the Porta Collina, under the Agger of Servius Tullius.

Here is a crypt, small in size, with an opening in the vault, through which the ladder is lowered; it is furnished with a bed, an oil lamp, and a few scanty provisions, such as bread, water, milk, and oil.
These provisions (in fact, a refinement of cruelty) are prepared because it would appear a sacrilege to condemn to starvation women formerly consecrated to the gods.

The unfortunate culprit is brought here in a covered hearse, to which she is tied with leather straps, so that it is impossible that her sighs and lamentations should be heard by the attendant mourners.
The crowd opens silently for the passage of the hearse; not a word is pronounced, not a murmur is heard.
Tears stream from the eyes of every spectator. It is impossible to imagine a more horrible sight; the while city is shaken with terror and sorrow.

The hearse being brought to the edge of the opening, the executioner cuts the bands, and the high-priest mutters an inaudible prayer, and lifts up his arms towards the gods, before bidding the culprit good-bye.
He follows and assists her to the top of the ladder, and turns back at the fatal instant of her disappearance.
As soon as she reaches the bottom, the ladder is removed, opening is sealed, and a large mass of earth is heaped upon the stone that seals it, until the top of the embankment is reached, and every trace of the execution made to disappear."
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Old Sep 10th, 2013, 11:54 AM
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Ok with your back to the Regia you are standing on the street called Vicus Vestae.

Now look at the partial white marble TEMPLE OF VESTA.
That is a *total* major 1930's reconstruction that used a few original fragments but its mostly modern replacements.
Look closely and you can see the different shades of white that are the original pieces.
It is round because that is how the original Iron Age Roman huts were built and that is what it represents.

Tradition claims that the 2nd King of Rome (715BC+) built the 1st Temple to this cult here-abouts and installed the 1st Vestals to keep the 'Sacred Fire' burning 24/7/365.
And it continued to burn (except for accidental flame-outs or major destructive Fires that burned the Temple down) until 394AD when the Christians closed this cult down (theoretically 1100yrs).

The original Hut/Temple was made of waddle and daub (interwoven reeds daubed with clay) and a thached reed roof and was still like that even in 241BC to sometime later when it finally became a stone structure.

The remains we see today date from Augustus (foundation) and later rebuildings (a major one after Nero's 64AD Fire).

The 'Sacred Fire' was focus of worship and no statues of the Goddess Vesta were in there.
But inside there was a (wall?) niche called the 'Penus Vestae' where sacred objects were kept but screened-off from view.

The most important object in that niche was the Palladium (a small wooden statue of Athene/Minerva) which legend claims was rescued by Aeneas from the burning city of Troy.
And it was never to be seen by anyone except the Vestals but once when it was rescued from a major fire (~190AD) it was accidently seen by others.

Now in front of you 2000yrs ago is a Virgin Fortress with a high wall and locked door which no man can enter except the Pontifex Maximus.
And actually a man couldn't even approach near the Temple at night so it's possible even this Street was off-limits after dark?

Walk over into that area imagining a door that opened into a small Atrium with the Temple on the right and the House of the Vestals in the rear.
Walk over to the Temple ruins and picture the reconstructed standing remains enclosing this entire structure in a 46ft circle.

In the reconstructed Temple section the area between the columns that surrounded the temple are marble stone blocks but actually there was a metal grill between the columns (short column fragment on left has holes where metal grill was attached).

Large curved marble blocks (9ft) with a decorated frieze were placed on top of the columns and this supported the bronze (Pliny) conical ^ roof.
There was an opening in the roof to allow the smoke to escape and was likely covered with a decorative bronze cap above it to keep out the rain, some wind and allow some light to enter.

The entrance faced east (so you are looking at the entrance) had wooden doors and a few marble steps leading up to it from ground level.

It must have also been very beautiful inside but sparse as the only thing inside was the central hearth for the Sacred Fire.

As you can visualize this was a very beautiful Temple and the most important Temple in the Forum if not in all of Rome itself.

Also imagine a young woman in her 20's dressed in white with braided and banded hair (a style only worn by women on their wedding day) silently tending the Sacred Fire as the sounds of the outside World drifts thru the metal grates of the Temple, Like a bird in a gilded cage she is very safe and well taken care of but not free.

Now back to reality and take-away the partial temple reconstruction and the brick base its built on and what you see is what was actually excavated over 100yrs ago.

The concrete foundation dates to Augustus and the marble fragments used in the reconstruction to Emperor Septimius Severus' wife's rebuilding in 191AD.

In the center of the foundation there was a deep pit ~8x8x16ft which was beneath the floor of the temple, this is where the ashes from the Sacred Fire were stored.
Once a year these sacred ashes were removed in a ceremony, paraded thru the Forum up to the Clivus Capitolinus where there was a special gate (Porta Stercoraria) halfway up the Clivus Capitolinus that was only opened on June 15 to allow these ashes to be carried down to the Tiber River to be thrown-in.

In 394AD the Christians kick the Vestals to the curb and the Sacred Flame is extinguished Forever.
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Ok still standing in this small entrance Atrium the turn and face Palatine Hill.

See the Shrine (aedicula) its inscription dates to the time of Hadrain (117-138AD) and reads "This monument was built with public money by the will of the Senate and the people of Rome". There is a pedestal for a statue within it but no one knows for certain what statue occupied it.

Some think it was a statue of Vesta others think it was a 'Compitum' which was a sanctuary placed at crossroads which the Romans considered exposed to the influence of underworld Gods and in need of protection and the 'Vicus Vestae' intersects the 'Via Sacra' in front of this House.

Ok now go thru the entrance to the left of the Shrine and into the Large courtyard
(Atrium) of the House of the Vestal Virgins.

Originally it's likely the House was just at this end but the left half XX[H] had some Vestal structures and it�s believed the Vestals� Sacred Grove was also located here?

The 1st X's lower part possibly had some property of the Domus Publica the Pontifex Maximus' House?
Anyway when Augustus give that Domus to the Vestals they could really expand their House's property (sometime after 12BC).

After Nero's 64AD Fire this whole complex got its present layout but what you see today from the House's reconstruction in 191AD after the 'Fire of Commodus'.

Notice the 3 large pools in the courtyard [`][```]space[`] there was a 4th pool in that �space� but it was covered over ~300AD+/- with a low brick structure (a circle within an octagon) which was made into a flower-bed possibly to represent the Vestal�s �Sacred Grove�.

This Courtyard was surrounded by a 2-story Colonade (one on top of the other) and you can still see many of the column�s bases.

The House was at least 2 stories or higher and possibly 4-5 stories on the southside.

On the short end to the right (west) under the modern roof was the Vestal�s dining room.

On the long side in front of you (south) on the ground floor was a bath, kitchen, bakery, ovens and a grindstone mill.
And also a rear stepped entrance/exit whose door opened onto the higher Via Nova that ran alongside the House (opened in 2011 for the public to use).

And on the 2nd floor abve the Vestal's bedrooms and bathrooms which were heated with hot-air flues (tubes) in the floor and walls.

What is also cool about this section was that during the excavations 2 large coin hordes were found long after the Vestals were disbanded.
In 472AD when Ricimer conquered and looted Rome some gov't official living here hid 397 gold coins in a corridor drain.
Also later a Medieval house was built atop these ruins and under the brick floor of one of the rooms was found 835 coins were found in a vase along with a silver pin with the inscription 'Domno Marino papa' this would have been an official in the court of Pope Marinus�II (942-946).
830 of those coins were Anglo-Saxon and were very likely offerings called 'Peter's Pence' sent to the Church.
Well whatever happened neither person ever returned to retrieve their treasure.

If you look down the far end of the courtyard you will see a Vestal statue facing you, it's a statue of Flavia Publicia (247-257AD).
The base inscription reads: "Whose conspicuous morality and great knowledge of all holy rites had been constantly of benefit to the State".
This statue was dedicated by two Centuriones Deputati (official couriers) whose careers were helped by some sort of favor this Vestal did for them.

And to the right of this statue is a large room with 4 steps.
The front was always open to the courtyard and it once had a barrel-vaulted roof.
The room was something special likely for ceremonies and/or a shrine and it possibly held a statue of the 2nd King of Rome who founded Rome's Vestal cult.
Rich Roman homes always had an Atrium (courtyard) with the entrance at one end and a Tablinum (an impressive/fancy room with the owner's cool stuff) at the other end.

Also on each side of this large room are 3 small rooms possibly where the 6 VIP Vestals (those in their last 10yrs) kept their religious stuff for ceremonies?

Ok now on the left (north) long side is a row of statue bases with the remains of some Vestal statues on them.

They were all found broken and mixed-up in a pile at the west end of the courtyard in 1883. just waiting to be thrown into a mediaeval lime-kiln.
So they are a bit mixed up as to who is who.

They date from 201-384AD and they are all the statues of the Head Priestess of the Vestals and they are all inscribed 'Virgo Vestalis Maxima'.
They are also inscribed with their names and accomplishments.

Except one has been erased! (8th one down with the head still attached)
It's highly believed to be that of the Head Vestal Claudia who became a Christian and left the Pagan Vestals to became a Nun (this pedestal has the date June 9, 365AD and still the 'C' of her name on it).
This statue also shows marks on her gown for a medallion necklace.
Remember no vanity so this is an exception but it's believed to be a rare award/gift given to his Head Vestal by the Emperor
And this *might* be the necklace I mention later.

Ok now look to the area behind this statue, see the modern roof.
It's covering a small man-made water pool called an Impluvium == that was in the center of the Domus Publica's Atrium (courtyard) [```==```] which was center of the house with the rooms of the house surrounding it.

So roughly where you are standing were rooms with other rooms on the otherside of that roof and a large fancy room on the right end the Tablinum.

The front entrance was on the left in that group of trees, so thru the front door into a short hallway with likely a service-type room on each side and then into the Atrium.

But when Augustus give the Vestals the House of the Pontifex Maximus they eventually built something over it at least 2 stories or higher. And those are the remains you see.
We don't know what it was but how about a wild guess?
The Vestals had horses and carriages so perhaps it was a fancy barn for them?
Before they filled-in the excavation of the below groundlevel Domus Publica a few years ago a wide ramp (like a short driveway) was visible that opened on to the Via Sacra from this section at the correct level?

It's 394AD, the Christians have closed all the Pagan Temples and cults and the Vestals are the last ones left.

Then it is decreed that the Vestal's House is to be taken over as imperial offices, its Temple closed and their religion is officially banned.

Did these last Vestals stand around their Sacred Fire which has burned for 11 centuries and wept as the flame slowly died out and the last whisp of its smoke rose to the Heavens?

And then leave and enter a city that they have been sheltered from since they were little children into an alien World with a single God?

The House and Temple always off-limits is now open for the Christians to visit and gawk at.

Princess Serena whose father was the General Stilicon remember I mentioned that an inscription across from the Curia had his name erased.
He was executed in 408AD because he was the wrong kind of Christian, he was also the General who fought Alaric and the Visigoths in the past and beat them.

Now 1-2yrs later in 409AD Alaric has beseiged Rome and on August 24, 410AD they enter somehow thru an opened City Gate and loot and burn Rome for 3 days.

[But years earlier]
The Historian Zosimus tells us that the young Princess Serena in or after 394AD with her own hands took a beautiful necklace off one of the Vestal Statues here and placed it around her own neck.
And an old woman who was once a Vestal Virgin who just by chance was there saw this.
She cursed the Princess for her irreverent profane act and predicted that someday she would have to atone for her Sins.
The Princess paid the old Pagan woman no mind and who knows she possibly even retold this funny story to friends while wearing this same necklace over the years.

Now years later in 409-410AD Rome is surrounded and besieged by Alaric and his Visigoths.
Now for some reason the Senate and even the Emperor's sister believe Princess Serena is secretly allied with these Barbarians surrounding Rome.
But she isn't and is innocent of this rumor.

But she is found guilty and sentenced to death. Being a noblewoman her execution would be as it has been for centuries for people of her rank.
I wonder if she remembered those words from that old Vestal Virgin years before as the executioner slipped his cord necklace around her neck.
Her sentence, death by strangulation!
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Old Sep 10th, 2013, 01:43 PM
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DOMUS PUBLICA: The official (Public) Home (Domus) of the Pontifex Maximus (Head Priest) overseeing the Vestals among other duties (509BC-12BC).

Excavations have shown originally it was just a cluster of primitive huts (pre or post-715BC), later a larger rectangular hall stucture but still of primitive building materials (interlaced wood branches, reeds, waddle & daub, etc) and later in ~525BC it was a long rectangular structure with soft tufa stone walls.

It was the King's Palace until 509BC when the Romans overthrew the last King and became a Republic and the Pontifex Maximus was installed there overseeing religious duties of the Vestal cult.

The vast majority of the ruins (brick & concrete) you are seeing are post-12BC when the expanded House of the Vestals built over this House multiple times over the many years.

But there is one site of major historical interest here, some scant remains of the Pontifex Maximus' House dated to when Julius Caesar as Pontifex Maximus lived here in the last years and the very last night and day of his life.


Ok I want you leave the large Vestal Atrium courtyard and step back into the smaller atrium with the Temple of Vesta.

All the while looking to the right thru the trees towards that modern roof section I mentioned earlier that covered the Domus Publica's Impluvium (the water pool that was in the center of the domus' atrium which is also the center of the house).

Leave the Vestal atrium and turn right walk a few feet to those trees again this whole time looking into those brick ruins.

Among those brick ruins 1 thing stands out which isn't brick and that is a groundlevel whiteish/gray travertine stone stylobate (looks like 2 long low steps).

When you can best line-up that stylobate { with the modern roofed structure [`R`] behind it --->{```[`R`] Stop there.

The Stylobate in this case is a short base ground level of travertine stone blocks with 2 travertine stone blocks on top of it.
1 block had a half-column base chisled into the side facing you.

In front of this at a slightly lower level are some travertine stone blocks with groove cut into them, this is a channel or gutter for rainwater.
Which means structure was exposed to the outside elements.

This structure was the base stones of an outside wall of a building and not just any all wall but a very impressive wall because on those half-column bases there would have been decorative half-columns [``||``||``||``].���

This wall without a doubt based on the Domus Publica's 19C excavations is a wall that had the Domus' front door entrance (likely with a pediment above it).

Looking straight ahead we know the modern covers the Impluvium (small beautiful water pool) in the Domus' Atrium and that the fancy impressive Tablinum Room would be at the opposite end of the Atrium.

So an impressive wall and with the front door { into a short corridor --- with a service room on each side, into the beautiful Atrium [``=``] with the Impluvium = in the center, and then the impressive [T]ablinum {---[``=``][T]

With bedrooms, a dining room, etc off both long sides of the Atrium and likely a 2nd story at the least.

This Stylobate dates to the time of the Julius Caesar as does the rest of this excavated House of the Pontifex Maximus.


THIS half-columned wall with the Stylobate base is where the House's Front Door was with likely a pediment [^] over the door o----o----o[^]o----o----o on the �Ides of March� 44BC.

It�s late-morning March 15, 44BC as Julius Caesar walks out this door for the last time in his life.
A few hours later 3 slaves sent by his wife will return with his body on a litter and re-enter here.
His body was later waked in this Domus, likely in the Tablinum.
And then on March 18 his body is carried thru that door on a beautiful funeral bier and over to the Rostra where Marc Antony has a few words to say.
Think of the others who have also walked thru that door to visit Julius Caesar...Marc Antony, Brutus and a young boy visiting his great-uncle who will one day inherit his Empire as JC's adopted son and hier.

IMO the archaeological evidence is overwhelming and rock solid for this as the main entrance door location into the Domus Publica.


It's the evening before the 'Ides of March' Julius Caesar (JC) and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (Caesar's General mentioned at the Regia) have just finished dinner along with others and *Decimus Brutus* (a different Brutus but a major player in these events).

JC is catching-up on some work (reading and signing things) while everyone else is engaged in after dinner conversation.
The topic of "What is the best death?" comes-up and JC quickly answers "A sudden one".
He will get his wish tomorrow.

That night JC and his wife go to sleep but it will not be restful!
In the middle of the night the doors and windows in their bedroom in blown open by a violent wind.
JC has a dream that he is flying above the clouds holding the hand of the God Jupiter.
His wife has a nightmare, she dreams that the pinnacle (placed there by the Senate) atop their house falls and smashes on the ground and she weeps over the body of her murdered husband in her arms.

The morning of March 15, 44BC the 'Ides Of March'.
JC woke-up ill and his wife tells him of her dream and she begs him not to go to the Senate meeting that day.
JC is worried by her pleads as she is not a overly superstitious person.

Later the Priests report to him here that they have made several (animal) sacrifices and found them to be inauspicious (unfavorable) so already with ill health, bad omens (storm), his and Calpurnia's dreams and now unfavorable sacrifices!

JC hesitates for quite a while and finally decides to send Marc Antony to the Curia Pompey (~1.4km away) to dismiss the Senate.

But one man speaks-up who is there at the House 'Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus' aka *Decimus Brutus* or Brutus Albinus again not the famous Brutus but he is his distant relative of his.
He is a confidant, trusted military ally and a close friend of JC.
And is actually in JC's will as a 2nd heir (more as an overseer of his decrees and not an actual money/property inheritor).
He is also a major player as one of ~sixty assassination conspirators.

His life and the others, all depend on JC going to that Senate meeting.
If not, it's probably for certain that by sunset JC will have gotten wind of their plot.
The "cat is out of the bag" and the rumors have already started and they will not get a 2nd chance.

*Decimus Brutus* tells JC that *HE* called this Senate meeting and it would be insulting to the Senators not to show.
He scoffs and mocks the Priests and their Sacrifices.

And he then tells JC; "Caesar shall we tell the Senate you will only meet them when your wife has better dreams?", "What will your enemies say?"
"The Senate wants to give you the title of Rex (King to be used *only* outside of Italy and only to forfill a Sybil prophesy, JC is "Dictator For Life" [Dictator Perpetuus] but the title *King* to the Romans is like the title *Dictator* to us) and will vote unanimously for you".

Decimus Brutus takes JC's hand and leads him towards the door.
"At least, if you think this day is unfortunate, the decent thing to do is to go to the Senate meeting yourself and adjourn it in person".
JC agrees and walks out the door.

He will leave for the Senate meeting with only a small entourage, including friends and conspirators but no bodyguards. (He had already disbanded his Spanish bodyguards, his friends urged him to bring them back into service but JC refused.)
Even if JC had heard rumors or thought of a possible conspiracy this would be typical of him.

In battle when the tides were turning against him, he would send away his horse and his bodguards and fight alongside his men.
His bravery would rally his troops on to victory. Once the enemy's reinforcements arrived and he was now vastly outnumbered and surrounded.
Any other commander probably would have dug-in or attempted a break-out.
Instead JC split his troops and attacked both fronts and Won.

Some make the claim this was just JC's way of commiting suicide due too illness and failing health and die a hero. I doubt it though.

The Via Sacra is *mobbed* with people outside his home that morning, most are just onlookers, others to try and give him a petition for something they want or desire.

But two people in the crowd have an urgent message for JC but only one will get thru.

A servant sent by his master or mistress tries to get to JC as he leaves his house but cannot get thru the mob that surrounds him.
He goes to JC's house and begs Calpurnia to secure him until JC returns because he has something of great importance to tell him.

And the other is a teacher of Greek logic named Artemidorus knows the famous Brutus and his friends but he also knows their secret. He is in the crowd that day with a written message warning JC of the assassination conspiracy.
He notices that JC is handing all the petitions he receives to a servant to read later. Artemidorus pushes thru the crowd and hands JC his message.
And tells him "Read this Caesar, alone, and quickly, for it contains a matter great importance which concerns You!!!".

JC tries to read it several times but he keeps getting distracted by people wishing to speak to him along the way.
It will still be in his hand and unread when he enters the Senate building.

JC is 56yrs old when he leaves his house and has less than an hour remaining in his life.

In ~3-4hrs he will be returning home along this same route in a litter carried by 3 slaves sent by Calpurnia to retrieve his body and bring it home.
One bloodied hand hangs from the litter as it crosses the Forum, in the other hand he still clutches that unread warning note!
Suetonius records that the Physician Antistius performed Caesar's autopsy here and that note was still in his hand! (BTW this is history's 1st recorded autopsy).

3 days later his body in an elaborate Funeral Bier leaves this House and is carried over to the Rostra and the rest is history.


[SOURCES] Over 100yrs ago 2 books were published about the Roman Forum excavations and this site in late 1800's. http://tinyurl.com/8fdrahr http://tinyurl.com/8aq6ee7
If links go dead try Google for the complete text of these books now long out of Copyright.
(1) 'Recent Excavations in the Roman Forum' 1898-1905: A Handbook By E. Burton-Brown
THE FORUM' 1898-1904 BY AN EYE-WITNESS CLAIR BADDELEY They tell of the traverine half-columns and the rain water channel of the Domus' wall facade.
And beyond that the atrium with a deep Impluvium. And beyond that the Tablinum with a mosaic floor and an aspe in the back. And on the right a room with a delicate mosiac floor and a beautiful fresco wall. And of the earliest foundations to its last rebuilding (1stC-BC). 1st: Walls built of large blocks, 2 Roman feet thick of soft Tufa the earliest building material used in Rome this probably belongs to the Regal (Kings) Period. These were rapidly crumbling away during the 19C excavations.
2nd: Blocks of hard Tufa 18-22in thick and 3'6"-4ft long perhaps from
the rebuilding of 390BC or 210BC.
3rd: Concrete walls faced with bricks, columns of Travertine (loose or
in place) and fine mosic pavings, this is 1stC-BC. Also now lost due to of exposure since the 1880's was the painted stucco inside and outside the house.
All the materials were once covered (tufa, travertine, brick facings), columns were crimson, rain-water channels were blue, inner walls with simple leaf ornaments, wreaths and flowers in panels with circles or garlands in the center.
And iron nails were also found in the brick facing to anchor the stucco.


This isn't well written but it's a *Very Accurate* narrative of Julius Caesar's assassination.
Over the years additions and corrections have been made esp about the Domus Publica's front door entrance & bath/impluvium) and worth slogging thru . http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...lking-tour.cfm (OR) http://tinyurl.com/juliusmuzzy

For the section on the Domus Publica with some photo links scroll down to;
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Ok, now walk over to the otherside (north) of the Regia |``**```| and stand in front of that large temple with the columned porch still intact.

But as you walk over check out the eastside of the Regia where the front entrance= was [``**```]=.

This entrance had a porch (likely very elaborate) that was probably added after the 36BC rebuilding when the rebuilt Regia was somewhat fire-proofed.

See the 2 upright structures of brick and marble, on the right one the marble is cracked/split which was caused by fire and very likely either Nero's 64AD or Commodus' Fire in 180'sAD.

Now walk over to the Temple but check-out the side (north) of the Regia.
See the 2 long marble and travertine Steps, they are from the 7-8thC-AD when someone build a Medieval house in the Regia.

See the brick pier with a column that column is believed to have been a later repair in that pier which was part of a quadrifrontal arch (4 passages) that was built in 121BC (Fabian Arch) that spanned the Via Sacra?
Cicero once in jest remarked about a man known for his height; "He bumps his head against the Fabian Arch".
If not that Arch it was another one built here as below ground support bases have been found.

Also notice some elevated street paving stones, you are standing on a Via that dates to Augustus (~1AD+/-) those paving stones show where the streetlevel had risen to by the 2C-AD.

Look at the temple and see the elevated (~6m/20ft above) green bronze door, that was how high the groundlevel had risen when the Forum was excavated in the later half of the 1800's.

Remember Emperor Caracalla and his killing spree of 20,000 of anyone even remotely aquainted with his brother Geta that he murdered.
Well a man named Valerius Patruinus who was the Co-Prefect of the Praetorian Guard and was a colleague of a couple of guys (Papinian and Laetus) who favored Geta, so a friend of a friend so to speak.
Bad choice of friends for him, Caracalla's hit-squad soldiers caught up with him (probably didn't even know it was coming) and murdered him right in front of this Temple.

Also today we myself included throw around the name Via Sacra (Sacred Way) for most street sections in the Roman Forum.
But the Via Sacra was actually only the one street that went from the Regia to the entrance to the Palatine Hill (by the Arch of Titus). Originally just a dirt path from the Palatine where the 1st Romans lived to the Regia/Palace/Vestal Temple area.



This was originally just the 'Temple of Faustina' that Emperor Antoninus Pius built (141AD) for his late beloved wife. She died just 2yrs into his 23yr reign.
After his death the Senate renamed it the 'Temple of Antoninus and Faustina'.

Emperor Antoninus was a really nice guy so if it wasn't for this temple surviving we would have sadly never heard much about him.
Nice guys finish last historically, I mean we all know about Caligula and Nero because they were meanies.

Any Emperor who rules the World can get all the beautiful girls (or young men) he wants too and any Roman man can have sex outside of marriage as it's considered normal male behavour and only a woman can commit adultery.

But Emperor Antoninus is very faithful who Loves and adores his wife.
He once wrote in a letter to someone about his wife "I would rather live with her on Gyara [an island of exile] than without her in the Palace".

Antoninus placed a large seated statue of his wife within her Temple and when he died they placed a statue of him right beside her.

They remained together for over 2 centuries until the Christians dragged their Pagan statues out of the Temple.
They were smashed and thrown off of the Temple's porch and lay broken on the ground below.
Time eventually covered over the broken statues and they lay buried there for ~1500yrs.

They were discovered during the excavations and are now displayed on the Temple's porch, the most intact one that you see is the seated Faustina with the fragments of Antoninus laying around her.
So together again as they were in Life.
Love stories are very rare in the Roman Forum but this was one of them.


Now look at the architrave on top of the columns.
The original inscription was to Faustina alone and it read
"To Deified Faustinae, by decree of the Senate".
When Antoninus died and was deified 20yrs later the Frieze above Faustina's inscription was chiselled off and this was added

('To the Divine Antoninus and to the Divine Faustina by decree of the Senate').

The side Frieze is pretty well preserved and was beautifully sculpted so check it out.

Only the bottom 3 steps are original with gameboards etched into them, the steps above that are a modern brick reconstruction.

The altar is original but its marble facing was long ago looted and this would be were the religious animal sacifices were carried out.

Legend claims this temple is where St Lawrence had been sentenced to death in 258AD.
He was martyred over a fire on a gridiron and even told the executioner (or the Emperor present) that he was done on that side and needed to be flipped-over.

In the 7th or 8thC the 1st church was build within the temple (San Lorenzo in Miranda) and in 1602 the Baroque facade was built.

Ok now, my pet peeve.
In guidebooks, audioguides and tour guides they often claim that the deep grooves at the top of the columns were made by Renaissance workers *trying* to pull down the columns.

Wrong! Those boys had no problems in taking columns from all over Rome to be reused esp in churchs, if they wanted them they would be gone now.

And a rope isn't going to cut deep grooves into a hard marble column just by pulling on it!

But if a rope is tied to the column to support something heavy and after years of the wind and weather gently moving it, it will wear in a groove and as the rope is replaced over the years it's placed in the same grooved notch.

You can see this in London's Westminster Abbey where ropes were tied to the interior columns to support staging for seating IIRC.
The weight and movement of people over the years caused the rope's slight movement to cut into these columns.

So in 1429 or 1430, Pope Martin V gave the church to the Collegio degli Speziali (College of Chemists and Herbalists or the 'Guild of Apothacaries' {druggists}), at the time officially known as the Universitas Aromatorium.

And they built a heavy wooden roof tied to the columns surrounding the temple's porch.

Also this is my take, if you look at the sides of the columns you will see an up/down line of small holes, I've seen this before and I'm very certain these were for supporting wooden walls placed between the columns.

So with a roof and walls this porch is now a seperate enclosed bldg from the church.

And the roof/column theory is the only one that makes any logical sense.
The column toppling theory was just a *guess* by one early archaeologist which caught on as fact and became an urban legend.

Also on the columns are inscriptions and drawings (graffiti), some are early Christian from the 4thC but I've had no luck seeing them even with binoculars.
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thank you so much Rostra, for posting what is clearly a labour of love.

On my next trip to Rome [and I'm determined there will be one] I will print this off and take it with me. The Forum is NOT going to get the better of me next time.

[and I'm dying of curiosity but I'm not going to ask].
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Old Sep 10th, 2013, 02:36 PM
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If Paradise Lost was banned, I'm sure it was one of those "spam" glitches that have been happening lately. Never knew Walter to do something bannable (new word).

Whatever, great post, "Rostra."
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Old Sep 12th, 2013, 10:09 AM
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[CORRECTION; In the earlier Vestal area sections I got the dates wrong and used 180'sAD for the 'Fire of Commodus' it was actually in 191AD.
Also for Septimus Severius wife's rebuilding of the Temple of Vesta/House I used 191AD it should be 193+AD as that is when her husband became Emperor.]

Ok, still standing in front of the Temple of Antoninus/Faustina turn right (east) and look-up the Via Sacra.

Now imagine that missing Arch that was connected to the Regia just behind you and look-up 45deg right to the single Arch of Titus.
That is where the Via Sacra always began and ended originally at the Regia/Vestal complex in ancient times when it was a dirt footpath.

Then when the 1st Roman Forum was made it ended where the Via entered it, so where that missing Arch was.

You are standing on the ~1AD Via Sacra with centuries of other Via's below you and the now missing Via's that were built over this 1AD Augustus Era Via Sacra.
The archaeologist's plan was to always get to this level so other later levels were removed like those few elevated 2C-AD paving stones when that Via was at that level above this one.

Now notice the Via goes straight but halfway up the slope where you see the trees it curves to the right and over to the Arch area.

This is the Via Sacra's route from ancient times until Nero's 64AD Fire, after that it ran straight up past the curved section and then did a 90deg right turn to the Arch area.
And that remained its route until well after the Fall of Rome and very likely into Medieval Times until finally the whole area was buried and lost.

The Via was lined with high-end Shops like Jewelry and Goldsmiths and homes of the Rich.

And often in rich Roman homes like these on groundfloor they would have small shops in the front facade facing the street, with a seperate entrance into the house's groundfloor behind the shops [``H```[s]= and the house�s 2nd floor or more built-over the whole complex.

Generally in Rome and esp on a busy Via in the Roman Forum you want your House to be a groundfloor fortress against any civil unrest like riots.

The center of the house would have an beautiful atrium (outside courtyard) and windows and balconies on the 2nd and higher floors.
So having shops in front didn't really effect the house and also provided money.

In the National Museum I have seen a funerary plaque for M. Caedicius Eros a Freedman who died at the end of the 1C-BC who had a Goldsmith Shop on the Via Sacra.
Not bad, he went from Slave to Freedman and died owning a high-end Goldsmith shop.

After the Nero's 64 Fire and his massive building of the Domus Aurea (Golden House Palace) he made the Via Sacra straight and right-up to his Domus Aurea's Beautiful Vestibule, then with a sharp 90deg right turn towards the Arch Area.

He turned the entire length of the Via Sacra into an elaborate elevated walkway with sidesteps and a columned portico with a roof (summer sun and rain).

All the rich Houses were burned in the Fire and not replaced instead both sides of the Via are lined with high-end shops along this straight section which is wider now esp the upper part.

A century earlier Julius Caesar for protection from the summer Sun stretched awnings over the Via for the people. Also awnings over the Roman Forum and the Vicus Tuscus.

Also the ancient Romans called this the 'Sacra Via' (Sacred Way) and not the 'Via Sacra'.
And as mentioned earlier they originally lived on the Palatine Hill and this dirt path (Way) took them to the (Sacred) Temple of Vesta, Regia and King's Palace.


Ok now walk over to the rightside (east) of the Temple eastside where there are the remains of a very fine marble slabs of paving, this is a section of the outer boundary of the Temple.
As mentioned earlier, Temples often had a marked area surrounding them but in this case the side possibly with a curb marking-off their religious property.

This elevated patch of paving (with 3 steps) later became part of a small bath complex in the 4-5thC-AD.
That rubble on top is the remains of a rectangular small bath that they also cut into the pavement and then lined with thin marble veneer.

And if you look to the right you can see the concrete/rubble remains of the rest of this Bath complex.


Now in right in front of you and also to the right are odd shaped well maintained patches of grass grown there and shaped like that on purpose.

This is called the Sepulcretum or necropolis or cemetery in the guidebooks.

These grass spots mark the where the archaeologists found 'Early Iron Age' (10C-7C BC) graves.

When the Roman Forum area was a diseased marsh this whole area was used as a cemetery.
They were either complete body burials (inhumation) or a cremation in an urn.

All were buried with cool grave goods and the metal Urns were detailed (doors, roof, etc) of a round hut depicting actually what they lived in. The Urns were then placed in a large vase with the grave goods, sealed and buried.

Adult burials stopped in the mid-8thC BC which coincides with the founding of Rome in 753BC.
Children were still buried there until the next century (7th) when it was abandoned all together.

What's interesting is in one of these later children's tombs (Tomb G) there were found either imported or imitation Greek objects a Greek lekythos (oil vase/flask) with figures of running dogs. This showed either direct or indirect trade with the Greek colonies in Italy.

All this stuff and other stuff is in the small Roman Forum Museum (Antiquarium Forense) and worth a look if it's open.


Now walk (east) a few yards to the end of this section and then just before the round intact temple is an exposed below-ground structure.

It is 3 complete rooms with doorways, a short narrow corridor and across from the 3 complete rooms are 3 more rooms with only the floors and partial walls remaining (no ceiling).

The short corridor leads to another door either another room or a corridor.
But it seems to have a narrow vertical doorjam that the others don't have?
If so it's likely for a corridor door that opened inward which could be Locked?

These are basement cell-like bedrooms of a rich Roman house (70-40BC) that once stood there.

Rich people don't sleep in basement cell bedrooms they sleep on the groundfloor or 2nd floor bedrooms facing their beautiful Atrium.

Their slaves sleep in locked quarters in the basement in small cells with a stone bed to prevent their escape or vengence on their owners in the night.
Roman Law is if 1 slave kills his master or mistress every single slave in the house is executed often publicly in the Colosseum or Circus (torn apart by wild beasts is a likely fate).

Another nearby home from this era when excavated had 50 of these slave cells which ancient writers tell us is around the number needed to run a Noble Roman household.
So this is likely just a small section for 6 within the larger slave quarters of this house.

Now look into these rooms and imagine the poor souls who lived in them their entire lifes as a slave.
They were only considered property to be worked hard with little food and sexually enjoyed if the master so desired.
And if they displeased their master or mistress they could be beaten, whipped, branded, killed (crucified) or sold into a worst fate (mines, brothels, farms were also brutal, etc). �


Ok now, turn around and look at that intact small 2 short-story high brick building just across the Via from you.

It has a modern metal door and on the roof a modern skylight ^ so in modern times it has and likely still is being used for something (storage?).
Possibly even by the early archaeologists?

I believe the 3 stone steps were placed there in modern times to give access from the lower excavated groundlevel into this building.
I believe this because the level below the doorjam is the concrete foundation and from the doorjam up it is faced with Roman bricks.
So this structure was built when the Via Sacra was higher than the present day Augustus level.
This door level would be roughly where Nero's higher Via Sacra was and he put many shops along this section.

So this structure has to be post-64AD or later.
I have searched for years in archaeological books, the internet and even read the *very detailed* archaeologist's excavation report of the Via Sacra when ~100yrs ago it was dug down well below the present day level, where they list *every* single minor little thing they found and even its height above sea level.
But no one ever mentions this intact in-your-face structure ever, ever!!!
Even detailed guidebooks mention things like those scant remains of the 4/5C Bath across the street but not This???
And it is definitely from the Roman era built with a concrete foundation and Roman bricks?

This is my guess and I think it's very possible that I might be correct?

This was 1 of the many shops built side by side that were the same structure [``][``][``][``][``] seperated by walls (think small strip-mall) that Nero built here facing the Via Sacra (which is a fact).

It was possibly taken over has a house or shop in Medieval Times and kept-up but the other shops were not and were stripped of any useful building materials and fell into ruins?

Even as the groundlevel slowly rose it could still be used by just keeping the front door clear with steps down to it with the sides shored-up with a little wall?
Like the outside bulkhead entrance into a modern suburan home's basement?
Over time it is completely buried intact until the excavations?

The remains of these other ruined 1C-AD ugly brick and concrete shops are built over centuries of the Domus Publica's layers (rooms, walls, floors, drains, etc).
(The Domus Publica's roofed-over Impluvium is *right* behind this structure.)

So Royal Palace to Pontifex Maximus' house vs. some common brick and concrete ruins of 1C-AD shops in the way?
Easy choice to make, destroy them (even if they were intact) and continue the excavations down to the really MAJOR historical levels.
And if 1 shop was intact leave it alone too show that 1C-AD level and a structure from it?

I know its ugly looking but it could have been marble-faced but most likely it was faced in white stucco and then lines were etched into the stucco making the facade look like it was build of white marble blocks (very common practice and alot cheaper).
Figure a nice door with an elaborate frame, a shop sign, trim brightly painted, etc.
And it also has a narrow sloped roof-tile awning across the middle of the facade just above the door.

Well that's my guess that it once was a Roman high-end Shop possibly a Goldsmith or Jeweler or something similar for the tastes of the Rich.


Ok walk-up the Via Sacra until just past the intact Round Temple (we'll get to that next).

I want you to look towards the House of the Vestals beyond this and line yourself up that far eastern end [``````````] of the Vestals House.
So Vestals House, Domus Publica and the Via Sacra that you are standing on.

Now look back over to the modern roof over the Domus Publica�s Impluvium directly behind the mystery 2-story brick building we just left.

Now we have already seen the Domus� front entrance in the trees earlier and this section directly in front of you is the rear of the Domus.

So picture the roofed-over Impluvium which is a small pool in the center of the larger Atrium [```=```] with rooms off to each long side of it and at this end the atrium opens into the Tablinum (Fancy Impressive Room where the owner has all his cool stuff to show-off and where he would meet with friends, businessmen, VIPs, etc) so this
(The Tablinum's rear wall is Apse } shaped ``T} and the floor mosaic.)

So with everything lined-up straight from the roofed-over small Impluvium (pool) ---->--=-->-- surrounded by a larger Atrium [```=```] with rooms on each long side you can give this site its width as you know where the center axis is.

Now picture this Tablinum Room directly in front of you and what you see (nothing really) is just the excavated floor-level of this room in 44BC.

The Room where very, very likely Julius Caesar's body was publicly waked as it's the only logical place for that honor in a person's Domus (the showroom of the house).

Also on the short walk to here you saw two pedestal bases in the Domus area.
They were both dug-up in this general area and the excavators placed them there just to display them. They likely had nothing to do with the Domus Publica or the Vestals as another one like the inscribed one on the left was found by the Arch of Titus and it's possible there were more though-out the city.

The left one is inscribed (need binoculars) in 3 lines LARIBVS AVG SACRVM but it's best for us to rearrange the words to this SACRVM LARIBVS AVG so it reads SACRED (to the) LARES (of) AUGUSTUS.

Every Roman home or apartment has a small shrine to the LARES (household gods) that protect their family and home.
It could just be on a shelf with a small statutette shrine that you offer a piece of bread too if poor.

But in this case it's possible that this was for a blessing to the Emperor and the Empire's Lares to protect the Emperor (family) and the Empire (home)?

My guess is that this/these were just public monuments perhaps tucked in an open public small shrine niche or just displayed alongside streets. Like you sometimes see Catholic Saints or the Virgin Mary displayed in a building's niche or statues in Italy along the streets.

It's dated to the 1C-AD so it could be for *THE* Augustus but most of the later Emperors also took that name in their very long names along with Caesar so I don't know if it's just a general term to cover whatever Emperor is in power at the time?
Plus it's only the abbreviation AVG for Augustus and not more specific?

This looks like a statue base but it is an Altar (cippus) and the other one on the right has a nicely engraved fancy water pitcher (long slender neck with wide spout and a nice handle).
This type of pitcher was used for pouring libations (water, wine or oil) at sacrifices.
So these 2 were very likely a pair wherever they were displayed.

Also along the farside of the Domus (where you were standing in the large courtyard of the Vestals looking at the line of Vestal statues and bases earlier) this was discovered in the excavations "parts of the columns of a long court with a colonnade, like the peristyle of a Greek house...".
So the Domus did invade the later Vestal's Atrium (courtyard) with a large Peristyle which here would have likely been 'long rows of columns surrounding an outdoor courtyard' which was a beautiful garden likely with statues, fountains, pools, flowers, trees, etc.

Below is a short version of what the archaeologists found over 100yrs ago when 1st excavated, sadly the weather has washed away all the paint, stucco and wall paintings. (Out of Copyright)

"...we reach the travertine half-columns of the facade, and a channel for the rain-water from the roof (Stylobate I mentioned).
Within is the Atrium, with a curiously deep Impluvium, which in this historic house reminds us of the fact that in very early times the tank of the atrium was sometimes dug deep to serve as a reservoir for rainwater.
Beyond there is the usual Tablinum (Fancy Impressive Room), with its apse and a mosaic floor.
Parts of its walls are still of the tufa blocks of an early time, and parts have been restored in concrete in the first century B.C. Both tufa and concrete were covered with stucco, and painted with designs on a background of bright "Pompeian " red.
A side room on the right has a most delicate mosaic floor, and a wall painting of trees and birds against a background of blue sky, one of those realistic simulated woodland views that the Romans loved, and of which the best instances are in Livia's villa on the Via Flaminia, and in the Garden-House of Maecenas in Via Merulana.
Behind again are parts of the columns of a long court with a colonnade, like the peristyle of a Greek house, which was often imitated in Rome, and was common at Pompei.
This Domus Publica is a striking example, first of the extreme smallness of rooms required when the whole life is spent out of doors..."
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