Entrance to the Foro Romano from Via dei Fori Imperiali (Map J 7)
WE ARE IN THE YEAR 347 AFTER CHRIST: COME WITH ME TO VISIT THE FORUM
Along the Sacred Way, victorious generals enter Rome to receive the accolade of the City. Go toward the Colosseum and you may see one of these "triumphs".
The excitement of the crowds is so intense the Emperor usually places a man in the general's chariot to keep whispering in his ear "Remember, thou art only a man!" They will clatter by on the way up to the Temple of Jupiter.
But be careful of the enemy prisoners following in chains; they're unpredictable and might try to catch you by the throat. Anyway they're dirty (barbarians never wash) and might have horrible diseases.
After the official doings up on the Capitoline Hill, don't miss the public banquet down here in the Forum
Temple of Antonius and Faustina
(Tempio di Antonio e Faustina). Built 200 years ago this temple has a beautiful staircase, which leads up, past an altar to the 10-columned facade.
Don't miss the inscription on the architrave where Emperor Antonius' name has been added to that of his wife - also be sure to look at the beautiful frieze running along the two sides with griffins and candelabra.
Rumor hath it that Faustina was serially unfaithful. Antonius was very pious to put up with her - he even elevated her to Goddess and ordered the temple.
Temple of Romulus
(Tempio di Romolo). Lovely domed circular building dedicated only 50 years ago by Emperor Maxentius to honor his son Romulus who died young.
Beautiful bronze doors are noteworthy, as are the concave niches on the facade (which some have dubbed Baroque).
Near the tavern are the state-run houses of ill repute. This seedy area of our Great Rome is where you find the "Hetaerae", girls recognizable by their yellow gowns.
Young boys cruising here for the men who fancy them are usually illegal immigrants from Greece, including bright-robed transvestites. In our hypocritical society, we condemn the "Greek vice" though of course we can do what we want with our own slaves.
Basilica of Maxentius
(Basilica di Massenzio). This has been called the Climax of Roman Architecture - as if our Empire weren't to continue forever.
Far more grandiose than the basilicas built three centuries ago by Julius Caesar and the Aemelia family, it is three times their size and 10 times more ornate - being based on our giant Baths like Caracalla's and Diocletian's. Sheer size has become very important to us Romans.
Maxentius began this giant courthouse forty years ago when he became Emperor, but Constantine who tried to add his own name to it defeated him. Don't miss the deeply coffered ceilings in the three vast vaults.
Arch of Titus
(Arco di Tito). There are several triumphal arches along the Sacra Via, but only Emperors and generals having their victory procession Triumph can pass through them. So go around the arch! This one was erected by Emperor Domitian to mark his eldest son Titus' destruction of Jerusalem.
Inside the arch is a bas relief showing our soldiers carrying the great candelabra from the Jews' Temple of Solomon, just seventy years after their renegade Christ was born.
Temple of Venus and Rome
(Tempio di Venere e Roma). This is the largest, and so for us the best, of the temples in the Roman Forum. The facade close to the Colosseum is dedicated to Venus, and the one at the other end to Rome. Hadrian who sent his designs to Apollodorus of Damascus designed it 200 years ago.
The great Syrian architect was so scathing in his criticism that the Emperor, who had already exiled him, had him killed. On a holy day watch the priests' procession as they come chanting toward the tethered bull.
Of course the forum is so crowded with temples that there isn't a time when you don't hear the moaning of these beasts being sacrificed. In that respect Emperor Constantine's adoption of the Christ Cult may be a good idea, though we will have to see what results from his moving the seat of power to his new city at the Eastern end of "Mare Nostrum".