Monday, January 6, 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 Augusto
Forum of Augustus
The second Fora to be built. Built to celebrate the victory of Augustus (27 BC/14) over Brutus and Cassius in the battle of Philippi in 42 BC
Works took fourty years and the Forum was only inaugurated in 2 BC.
As the Forum of Caesar, it was built on land occupied by private houses and bought with the proceeds of booty
A MASSIVE WALL 30 m (100 feet) high, made out of huge "peperino" blocks and "gabina" stone with inserts of "travertine" marble, was erected to separate the Forum from the nearby slum of Subura, the poor district where Julius Caesar had been born
There were only two archways to the north with three openings, and to the south with a single arch, called Arco dei Pantani (Muddy Arch) even in the fifteenth century, because of the mud which flooded the Forum through it
The function of the forum was to give vent to the crowds, new areas for trials, and above all a center for the representation of the imperial glory
125 x 118 m (410 x 390 feet)
Nowadays Via dei Fori Imperiali covers the front part of the Forum
On the longer sides there were two higher porches on three marble steps and columns made of "cipollino" marble (Marmor Carystium) on which there was a high attic decorated with caryatids, alternating with shields of Jupiter Ammon and other deities
Beyond the arcades, paved with polychrome marbles, there were TWO LARGE SYMMETRICAL EXEDRAS in blocks of tuff and lava stone in the center of which there were niches framed by two columns of "cipollino" marble:
In the exedra to the left of the temple
"Statue of Aeneas with Anchises and Ascanius" and, between the bays of the arcades, "Ancestors of the Gens Iulia and king of Alba Longa"
In the exedra to the right of the temple
"Statue of Romulus carrying in triumph the spoils of Acron, king of Ceninensi", whom he defeated and killed, and among the bays of the arcades, the "Probiviri" (Arbitrators) famous people in the history of Rome
The semicircular exedra on the left of the temple is repeated today in the fa├žade of the HOUSE OF THE KNIGHTS OF RHODES
AT THE CENTER OF THE FORUM there was the "Statue of Augustus on the triumphal chariot", while another large statue (14 m - 46 feet) occupied the end of the porch on the left, on a large base in the HALL OF THE COLOSSUS, by walls richly decorated with paintings of Apelles: it was the famous "Colossus of Augustus", maybe built here by order of Claudius. The head of the statue is maybe the one in the Courtyard of the Pine Cone of the Vatican Museums
"Through the figurative decoration a line of thought ideological and very finely propogandistic is made explicit, summarizing well the guidelines of the new course of the state. In the personal Forum of the Princeps the mythical origin of the family of the ruler merges with that of Rome itself, so that Augustus and Rome become protagonists of an absolute story, a direct expression of the supreme will of the gods" (Gian Luca Grassigli)
The far side of the square was closed in by this huge temple on a high podium with steps in front of blocks of tufa
Ultor meant "avenger" of Caesar's murderers and legendary father of Romulus,
It was covered with large slabs of Carrara marble and the porch had eight fluted columns of 15 m (50 feet) with Corinthian capitals, while eight others were on the long sides: only the last three of the south-east side are left with the entablature that connects to the surviving stretch of the cella wall through a coffered ceiling
The cella was paved with colored marble slabs and housed the statues of Mars, Venus, and probably of Caesar deified
It was also the venue for meetings of the Senate, especially during time of war
Inside there were the works of immense value to the city, like the sword of Caesar or the Legionary insignia taken in 53 BC from Crassus and returned to Augustus by the Parthians
"The massive and monumental size the Forum of Augustus gave it a clear symbolic meaning as it marked the border between the simplicity of the residential quarters and the maiestas and magnificence of temples and public buildings" (Paul Zanker)
Renovation of the so-called Domitian's Terrace, maybe part of a monumental fountain located at the end of the Aqua Marcia aqueduct, in the years 1467/70 for Cardinal Marco Barbo, nephew of Pope Paul II Barbo (1464/71)
Paul II had entrusted to his nephew the administration of the Sovereign Military Order of the Knights of St. John the Baptist, later known as Knights of Rhodes and later on still as Knights of Malta, an order of knights (hospitalers) dedicated to help poor, sick or injured pilgrims to the Holy Land founded in 1099 at the time of the First Crusade
At the beginning of the thirteenth century the order had occupied the church and monastery of the Basilian monks, founded in the ninth century on the Temple of Mars Ultor
The structure had become the seat of the Order at the end of the twelfth century
Two centuries later they moved on the Aventine Hill but kept this property until the end of the fifteenth century
The regained only in 1946 when they opened the church and began the restoration of the structures
In the LOGGIA fragments of frescoes with "Trees, landscapes and medallions with emperors" by artists of the school of Andrea Mantegna (about 1431/1506 )
Transformation into a church in 1946 of the ancient structures that maybe constituted the atrium of a Roman house
The carvings on the altar are by Alfredo Biagini (1886/1952)

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