Forum of Caesar


Forum of Caesar

The Forum of Caesar, also known as "Caesaris" [Hornblower, Simon and Antony Spawforth. "The Oxford Classical Dictionary". 3d Ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.] , is a section of the Forum Romanum in Rome. It was built by Julius Caesar in 46 BC.

Construction

Caesar decided to construct a forum bearing his name in the northeast section of the Forum Romanum, of which he purchased a very expensive, select amount of parcels of land in that area. [D.R. Shackleton-Bailey. "Cicero's Letters to Atticus." Vol. II. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965. 199.] Forum construction began in 54 BCcite book | first=Leland M. | last=Roth | year=1993 | title=Understanding Architecture: Its Elements, History and Meaning | edition=First | publisher=Westview Press | location=Boulder, CO | id=ISBN 0-06-430158-3 | pages=219] , and it was dedicated to Caesar and his deeds in 46 BC upon completion. Some scholars, however, believe that Augustus, who claims this as well, furnished the west side with the shops and offices that were considered part of the Forum of Caesar, therefore being the one to see its completion. [Anderson, Jr., James C. "The Historical Topography of the Imperial Fora". New York: Johnson Reprint Corporation, 1984.] The Forum spanned from the "Argiletum" on the southeast side of the Forum Romanum to the "Atrium Libertatis" and spanned 160 meters by 75 meters. [Hornblower, Simon and Antony Spawforth. "The Oxford Classical Dictionary". 3d Ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.] As part of the dedication, lavish games were offered and funded by Caesar, indicating the staggering cost and consequentially the personal interest that Caesar had invested.

Purpose

The Forum of Caesar originally meant an expansion of the Forum Romanum. The Forum, however, evolved to serve two additional purposes. As Caesar became more and more invested in this project, the Forum became a place for public business that was related to the Senate in addition to a shrine for Caesar himself as well as "Venus Genetrix".

Before his assassination, Caesar would have the Senate meet him before his Temple, an act deemed very unpopular by the Senate. The Forum of Caesar also had an effect on the Curia, which Caesar began to reconstruct in 44 BC. This reconstruction moved the Forum of Caesar much closer to the Curia. The ten tabernae located on the western side of the Forum and its now close approximation to the Senate house symbolized the unity that Caesar felt between him and the Senate.

Caesar also placed a statue of his favorite horse in front of the temple. Following his assassination, a statue of Caesar was added, riding this horse. Caesar (gens Julia) claimed to have been descended by Venus through his ancestor Julus. The "Temple of Venus Genetrix" was completed after Caesar's assassination by Roman senators, which included lavish games in reference to Caesar's original dedication to the Forum. Caesar had plans for this Temple well in advance, having dedicated the construction of a temple to "Venus Victrix" at the climactic Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC, though never being able to see its completion. This original dedication was done because it was Pompey's favorite goddess, and Caesar hoped to gain the goddesses favour before the battle against Pompey.

Art

Within the "Temple of Venus Genetrix" contained an important collection of statues, paintings, and engravings. A guilded statue of Cleopatra VII was erected, setting a precedent for dedications to notable women in the precinct. Paintings in the forum included one of Medea, a Greek goddess, as well as "Ajax", a mythological Greek hero, done by Timomachus. Perhaps more personal to Caesar was six collections of engraved gems. This surpassed in number the collection of "Mithrodates" that was dedicated by Caesar's rival Pompey. It is not known where or how Caesar obtained these six collections.

Reconstruction

Following the era of the Forum during the Caesar and Augustan reign, a total reconstruction took place, headed by the Roman Emperor Domitian. Why this reconstruction occurred is not exactly known. Under the reign of Titus, a massive fire happened in AD 80 that ravaged the city, including the Forum Romanum. The Forum of Caesar was not rebuilt until AD 95 however, indicating that perhaps Domitian had a personal interest invested in the reconstruction. This could be seen in the separation of the Curia from the Forum, symbolizing a reversal of Caesar's wish to have the Senate closely united to him. Not much senatorial business took place in the Forum afterwards, except for the "secretarium senatus" in the 4th century AD.

In late May 2006, a team of archaeologists under the direction of Dott.ssa Anna de Santis and Dott.ssa Poala Catalano [ M.G. Filippi, IL MESSAGGERO 03.05.2006, pg. 35 ] unearthed an inhumation tomb dating from the 10th century BC in the Forum of Caesar, in comparison to the previous five cremation tombs unearthed there from July 1999 to April 2006. [ R.Meneghini, L'AREA DEI FORI DALLA PREISTORICA ALLA TARDA ETA` REPUBBLICANA,pp.18-21.IN: R.Meneghini & R. Santangeli Valenzani (edt.), I FORI IMPERIALI - Gli scavi del Comune di Roma. VIVIANI EDITORE ROME (2007).]

References

Anderson, Jr., James C. "The Historical Topography of the Imperial Fora". New York: Johnson Reprint Corporation, 1984.

Hornblower, Simon and Antony Spawforth. The Oxford Classical Dictionary. 3d Ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

External links

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* [http://www.flickr.com/photos/imperial_fora_of_rome/sets/72157594586673331/] Martin G. Conde, ROME – IMPERIAL FORA. The Forum of Caesar. The Bronze Age Tombs (c. 10th century BC). Excavations & Related Studies (1997-2007).


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