Rome - the Roman Forum

Our first day in Rome, we decided to take the bus that went into the old city until we saw some old stuff. This didn't take long. It so happened that we ended up at the Roman Forum. The forums of Rome were the city center in Rome's height. This is where votes were taken, congresses held, and speeches given. This is where Caesar's body was taken to inform the people of his assassination, and where the column marking the center of the Roman Empire once stood.


One thing we noticed immediately was the crappy repair job on this pedestal. A closer look, though, shows that at least some of the brink work is the very thin bricks characteristic of the Imperial age of Rome, around the 1st-3rd centuries AD. The original marble pedestal probably dates to the Republican era, around the 1st century BC. Rome is full of examples of repair and re-use through the ages. You are surrounded by the impression that this land has had a living, thriving city on it for over 2500 years.


The Piazza del Campidoglio leads to the Forums, and is flanked by massive twin statues of Castor and Pollox, each with a horse. Notice the struts holding the leg of the horse and the arm of Castor in place. These statues date from a time when they had not quite figured out how to keep the legs in place without struts to hold them. They were originally in the Temple of Castor and Pollux, which dates to 496 B.C.


Enormous statues of another god-like figure are on the other end of the Piazza. Eric attempts to provide some perspective.

No one seems to know or care who this statue depicts. It (and its twin, facing the opposite direction and on the other side of the entrance to this building) is in the drawings for the original plans for the Piazza, conceived by Michaelangelo.


The Roman Forms are still under active excavation. One can get a sense of the grandeur of ancient Rome as you walk down the Via Sacra, some of it still paved with the original Roman stones. Several columns from the Temple of Saturn are in the foreground.


The entrance to the Forums is marked by the Arc of Septimus Severus. This archway was erected in 203 AD to celebrate the Roman victory over the Parthians, the Arabs, and the Assyrians.


It retains much of its detailed carvings, although the soldier on the keystone retains only a torso. The carvings depict stories from the wars that the Arc commemorates.


The back of the arc is equally detailed.


Next stop down the way is the Temple of Saturn. The foundations for this temple were laid around 500 B.C., making them the oldest surviving foundations in the Forum. The columns and bits of roof that remain are from the third reconstruction of the temple, around 290 A.D. (it had been rebuilt after being burned by the Gauls in the 4th century B.C.).

The interior of the temple contained a wooden statue of Saturn, filled with oil and clothed in linen. The statue was only uncovered on December 17th, Saturnalia.

Saturn was the god of agriculture, but over time as offerings to Saturn changed from grain, wool, and oil to gold and silver bars, he became the god of wealth. The empire's reserves of gold and silver were stored within this temple, as were the official scales for the weighing of metals.


More columns, of a different style, on the other side of the aisleway.


A side view of the columns. Note the carved flowers far overhead, around the roof of the temple.



Eric and Ace pose by a piece of the roof that has fallen to the ground. This piece gives a feel for the size and intricacy of the temple.

Note the large, flat stones in the foreground. These are part of the original Roman roads.

The 2500 year-old foundation is in the background.