Sunday, 7 September 2014

Forum for the Fainthearted

OK so you have 'done' the Colosseum, had enough of ruins but you don't want to waste your Forum/Palatine part of the ticket. I feel your pain, hence this post which could also be titled 'Forum Lite'. It is a walk through the Forum picking out highlights. You never know it might inspire you to return  for a more in depth visit on future trips to the Eternal City.

Arch of Titus
A good place to start as it is pretty close to the Colosseum. This triumphal arch celebrates the crushing of a rebellion in Judea by Titus, son of Emperor Vespasian. You can see the Jewish Menorah being paraded as captured treasure on the inside of the arch.

Via Sacra
This main route through the Forum will have seen many triumphal processions. They always started with the captured gold and other treasures, followed by exotic animals, then prisoners and finally the conquering hero.

Temple of Julius Caesar
Caesar was cremated on this spot. He was very popular with the ordinary people of Rome because of his military victories but not so popular with the Senate. The warning of his impending murder 'Beware the Ides of March' was uttered in this very Forum.

Temple of Saturn
The Via Sacra leads to this, the oldest temple in the Forum, and  where the captured treasure from conquered lands was stored.


Basilica Julia
The steps of this law court contain gaming boards that were used to fill in time between cases.

Temple of Vesta
Rome's most sacred spot where the Vestal Virgins tended the sacred flame. As long as the flame burned Rome would stand.

The Vestal Virgins were young girls, before the age of 10, chosen from noble families. They served for 30 years and were esteemed members of society. They sat close  to the Emperor during the games at the Colosseum and had the power to grant prisoners freedom.
They lived in the House of the Vestal Virgins

Arch of Septimus Severus
This triumphal arch was built to celebrate Emperor Septimus Severus' victory in Partha (modern day Iran)
Over the carvings on the arch there was an inscription with gleaming bronze letters, but the bronze has been stolen away, and only the nail holes and grooves for the letters are still there. That is enough for us to read the inscription, and also for us to see where Septimus Severus' son Caracalla, when he became emperor and killed his brother Geta, had his brothers name scratched out of the inscription. Check it out on the third line from the bottom.

Who would have thought that such a whistle stop tour of the Forum would reveal  tales of murder, treasure, beautiful girls beyond reach and an ancient form of tiddlywinks!

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