Imperial Forum


The other Imperial Fora (I BC - II AD) 4 huge meeting places with Temples, are scattered to the left and right of Mussolini's avenue, Via dei Fori Imperiali, which runs on top of them, more or less down the middle.

Imperial ForumIn the summer these Fora can often be visited by night, with a guide.

You pass from one side of the main road to the other by means of a 15C drain the height of a man. On the right side of the road is a new type of archeological dig in which all of the strata are exposed.

Lowest level: the giant Etruscan drain the Cloaca Maxima; on top a Roman mosaic floor of perhaps a servants room; above still a medieval house with loggia (large balcony); on the other side of a small footpath was the abattoir.

Animal bones embedded in the pavement show that they were slaughtered here. Over the centuries, the area was filled in with sand, making a still-life floor with bones.

Forum of Caesar

Julius Caesar, from an antique sculpture(Foro di Cesare, 50 BC). Caesar's Forum is the very first of the privately financed Fora. On the right side looking at the Colosseum is a large well-proportioned rectangle. At the end of it is the Temple of Mars Venus Genetrix soaring up its flight of stairs, reaching for the gods.

At its base is the pedestal for a "Quadriga" statue (4 horses galloping with the Dictator in a chariot standing behind, his cloak flying). Noteworthy on the edge of Caesar's Forum is the large public lavatory which could accommodate 50 people. Only the seating area was covered, comfortable even in the rain.

Fresh running water was piped in under the seat and into the urine channel in front. And what did they use for paper? In Imperial times the rich used the feathers on the tummies of live birds.
Trajan built these into the first floor of Caesar's shopping mall facing Via Suburra, 150 years later.

Via dei Fori Imperiali (Map I 6 - J 7)

Forum of Augustus

Imperial Forum(Foro di Augusto, 2 BC). Next to Trajan's Forum on the left. Augustus had to buy many private houses - an expense in those days too - in the "suburbs" to make room for his Forum, which was peopled by giant statues; the one of himself 17m/50ft high! Only part of a crooked finger and the back of his hand (bigger than one's arm) is left. It stood against the firewall he had built between the populace's housing and his Forum complex. The wall rose to 35m/110 ft high and was meant to keep the Augustan space safe from the rampages of fire that swept through the mud brick and wooden crowdedness outside.

A statue of Augustus on a chariot showed how much he must have admired Caesar's like statue of himself. (Copying is the highest form of flattery.)

All the covered spaces were beautified with expensive marbles: "giallo antico" (bright veined yellow), and purple being the favored colors. The pavement outside was made of whiter-than-white Luni marble. It must have staggered the eye on a sunny day without the benefit of sunglasses.

The giant temple in the middle, dedicated to Mars the Avenger, god of War, again copied Caesar's Forum. Vast fluted columns held up a triangular "portico", with images on either side of Mars, Venus, Aeneas and Romulus. The sculptural remnants around the friezes are very fine and detailed. There is one of a rolling wave which is almost modern in its beauty (right side.)

Via dei Fori Imperiali (Map I 6 - J 7)

Going towards Via Cavour the next oblong was Nerva's Forum:

Forum of Nerva

(Foro di Nerva). (98 AD) Now only partly visible, and situated next to the large square Temple of Peace.

Temple of Peace

(Tempio della Pace) (Vespasian's Forum, 75 AD). This was really a public park in which Nerva put ancient Greek statues that Nero had stolen from Athens 15 years earlier, for his private garden.

Scholars do now say that Nero used to have days in his vast property, when people could wander in and see how the other half lived (now the Colosseum area).

Next door was a Temple of Minerva. All that remains today are two lofty columns with lovely sculpting, a statue of Minerva and a deep frieze showing women at work.