Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Imperial Fora
Successive extensions of the republican Roman Forum in the imperial period, with the same functions, although in larger spaces enriched with decorations, for the purpose of public utility and propaganda of the emperors
Foro di Traiano
Forum of Trajan
107/112 Apollodorus of Damascus for Trajan (98/117)
It was the last of the Fora to be built and the largest of them all
It measured about 300 x 180 m (990 x 590 feet) with a rectangular square (120 x 90 m - 400 x 300 feet) and a huge equestrian statue of Trajan as well as statues of the previous emperors and their families
In the ATTIC OF THE TWO PORCHES there were statues of Dacian prisoners instead of caryatids
The MAIN ENTRANCE was located on the border with the Forum of Augustus and was composed of a large square hall with a central portico
For its implementation the ridge that joined the Capitol to the Quirinal was removed, also destroying everything that was there, including a stretch of the old city walls and the ATRIUM LIBERTATIS by Asinius Pollio, where the freeing of slaves (manumissio) used to take place: its functions were transferred to the new Forum
The statue of Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, which was present in the Atrium Libertatis inspired Frédérick Bartholdi when he designed the Statue of Liberty in New York
Each wealthy family of Rome owed on average between five to twelve slaves
BASILICA ULPIA (Ulpian Basilica)
It was the largest basilica in Rome, about 180 x 60 m (590 x 197 feet)
The nave was 25 m wide (82 feet) including the two apses
It opened on the square with three entrances to the front porch and was crowned by an attic decorated with a frieze
The interior was divided into five naves by four rows of longitudinal gray granite columns with Corinthian capitals in white marble partially restored
The basilica was leaning against two large buildings (libraries) facing each other on an arcaded courtyard at the center of which there was the Trajan's Column
COLONNA TRAIANA (Trajan's Column)
Inaugurated in May 113
29.74 m (97.5 feet) high, 40 m - 131 feet with base and capital
It consists of eighteen large overlapping drum (1.5 m high with a diameter of 3.5 m) carved in Carrara marble inside with a spiral staircase that leads to the small terrace
It is considered the greatest surviving masterpiece of ancient Roman sculpture
At the top of the column there was a statue of Trajan lost in the Middle Ages and replaced in 1587 by order of Sixtus V Peretti (1585/90) with the current statue of St. Peter by Tommaso Della Porta (about 1550/1606) and Leonardo Sormani (before 1530/after 1589)
It rests on a base shaped like a cube on a pedestal crowned by a cornice with at the corners four eagles holding garlands and decorated on three sides by reliefs of Dacian weapons and military insignia
On the fourth side, the main one, a panel is placed held by two women representing "Victories" and bearing an inscription which says among other things: "The Senate and the Roman people dedicated to Trajan to indicate how high was the hill demolished with these works"
Inside the basement, accessible through a door below the inscription, the golden urn containing the ashes of Trajan and his wife Plotina used to be kept
Along the column a SPIRAL FRIEZE encircles it 23 times. It was conceived by a single unknown great master conventionally named Master of Trajan's achievements. Maybe it was the architect Apollodorus of Damascus himself
The relief is about 200 meters - 656 feet - long with a height that varies, depending on the perspective, from 90 cm to 1.15 m (3 to 3.8 feet) in 155 boxes illustrating the most important stages of the wars of Trajan against the Dacians (in today's Romania) in the two campaigns of the years 101/103 and 107/108
"There is a profound difference of ethical and political conception between these representations and those that we will find already on the Column of Marcus Aurelius, where the enemy is killed and reviled. This respect for the defeated enemy was still a reflection of an ethics derived from the Greek culture and the Stoic philosophy" (Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli)
About 2500 figures have been counted and Trajan is present in about 60 scenes
It was designed as an ancient book, a scroll (volumen) that it is rolled out around the stem of the column and could be admired at a close distance from the terraces of the two libraries and of the Ulpian Basilica, located around the column
The frieze was of course, like all the sculpture of any ancient civilization, PAINTED WITH BRIGHT COLORS
"New formal language that combines in a balanced and original way a style derived from the classical tradition, the so-called classical art, and a style of its symbolic tradition, commonly called plebeian art. A language where the tone of classical, balanced and calm severity, absorbs also iconographic models of the Hellenistic tradition, such as the scenes of battle, as well as symbolical iconographic models" (Gian Luca Grassigli - TMG)
"The art of the Flavian period was a revival of the fruitful contact between Eastern Hellenism and mid-Italic artistic traditions, which had started already in the Republican period (discontinued in the Augustan period by the borrowing of the formal and artificial Neo-Attic artistic culture), the result of which was Roman art. It is in Trajan's art, and particularly in the Column of Trajan, that the merger is realized most fully and it truly gave birth to a new art form, that we can describe as entirely Roman" (Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli)
In the fourteenth century the Cappella di S. Niccolò (Chapel St. Nicholas) was built, leaning against the base, used by a hermit as a bell tower
Probably to the north-east (the exact location is disputed) of the column there was the magnificent TEMPLE OF TRAJAN AND PLOTINA, probably dedicated in 121, of which only an inscription in the Vatican Museums, a column with capital lying near the Column of Trajan and two large fragments of columns in the basement of the Palazzo Valentini
The columns were probably over 20 m (66 feet) high and it was the only building of the many made by Hadrian (117/138) on which he inscribed his name
MERCATI TRAIANEI (Trajan's Markets)
One of the most perfect achievements of Roman utilitarian construction maybe also by Apollodorus of Damascus, just north of the Forum where the hill was removed
Maybe it was used as a storehouse of food or retail shops clustered around the Via Biberatica

Large central room with a bold six-bays vault on travertine corbels

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