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and inclosed by a wall about six miles in circuit. A temple of Diana was
erected on the Aventine, besides two temples to Fortune, one to Juno,
and one to Luna. Servius also dedicated the Campus Martius, and enlarged
the Mamertine Prison by adding a subterranean dungeon of impenetrable

[Sidenote: Tarquinius Superbus.]

On the assassination of Servius Tullius, B.C. 535, his son-in-law,
Tarquinius Superbus, usurped the power, and did much for the adornment
of the city. The Capitoline Temple was completed on an artificial
platform, having a triple row of columns in front, and a double row at
the sides. It was two hundred feet wide, having three cells adjoining
one another, the centre appropriated to Jupiter, with Juno and Minerva
on either hand. The temple had a single roof, and lasted nearly five
hundred years before it was burned down, and rebuilt with greater

[Sidenote: Rome under the early consuls.]

[Sidenote: Roman roads.]

Such were the chief improvements of the city during the kingly rule.
Under the consuls the growth was constant, but was not marked by grand
edifices. Portunus, the conqueror of the Tarquins at Lake Regillus,
erected a temple to Ceres, Liber, and Libera, at the western extremity
of the Circus Maximus. Camillus founded a celebrated temple to Juno on
the Aventine. But these, and a few other temples, were destroyed when
the Gauls held possession of the city. The city was rebuilt hastily and
without much regard to regularity. There was nothing memorable in its
architectural monuments till the time of Appius Claudius, who
constructed the Via Appia, the first Roman aqueduct. In fact the
constant wars of the Romans prevented much improvement in the city till
the fall of Tarentum, although the ambassadors of Pyrrhus were struck
with its grandeur. M. Curius Dentatus commenced the aqueduct called Anio
Vetus B.C. 278, the greater part of which was under ground. Its total
length was forty-three miles. Q. Flaminius, B.C. 220, between the first
and second Punic wars, constructed the great highway, called after him
the Via Flaminia - the great northern road of Italy, as the Via Appia was
the southern. These roads were very elaborately built. In constructing
them, the earth was excavated till a solid foundation was obtained; over
this a layer of loose stones was laid, then another layer nine inches
thick of rubble-work of broken stones cemented with lime, then another
layer of broken pottery cemented in like manner, over which was a
pavement of large polygonal blocks of hard stone nicely fitted together.
Roads thus constructed were exceedingly durable, so that portions of
them, constructed two thousand years ago, are still in a high state of

[Sidenote: Ancient basilicas.]

[Sidenote: Temple of Hercules.]

[Sidenote: Asiatic luxuries.] The improvements of Rome were rapid after
the conquest of Greece, although destructive fires frequently laid large
parts of the city in ruins. The deities of the conquered nations were
introduced into the Roman worship, and temples erected to them. In the
beginning of the second century before Christ we notice the erection of
basilicas, used as courts of law and a sort of exchange, the first of
which was built by M. Portius Cato, B.C. 184, on the north side of the
Forum. It was of an oblong form, open to the air, surrounded with
columns, at one end of which was the tribunal of the judge. The Basilica
Portia was soon followed by the Basilica Fulvia behind the Argentariae
Novae, which had replaced the butchers' shops. Fulvius Nobilia further
adorned the city with a temple of Hercules on the Campus Martius, and
brought from Ambrasia, once the residence of Pyrrhus, two hundred and
thirty marble and two hundred and eighty-five bronze statues, beside
pictures. L. Aemilius Paulus founded an emporium on the banks of the
Tiber as a place of landing and sale for goods transported by sea, and
built a bridge over the Tiber. Sempronius Gracchus, the father of the
two demagogue patriots, erected a third Basilica B.C. 169, on the south
side of the Forum on the site of the house of Scipio Africanus. The
triumph of Aemilius Paulus introduced into the city pictures and statues
enough to load two hundred and fifty chariots, and a vast quantity of
gold and silver. Cornelius Octavius, B.C. 167, built a grand palace on
the Palatine, one of the first examples of elegant domestic
architecture, and erected a magnificent double portico with capitals of
Corinthian bronze. With the growing taste for architectural display,
various Asiatic luxuries were introduced - bronze beds, massive
sideboards, tables of costly woods, cooks, pantomimists, female dancers,
and luxurious banquets. Metellus erected the first marble temple seen in
Rome, before which he placed the twenty-five bronze statues which
Lysippus had executed for Alexander the Great.

[Sidenote: Sack of Corinth.]

[Sidenote: Adornment of the Forum.]

The same year that witnessed the triumph of Metellus, B.C. 146, also saw
the fall of Carthage and the sack of Corinth by Mummius, so that many of
the choicest specimens of Grecian art were brought to the banks of the
Tiber. Among these was the celebrated picture of Bacchus by Aristides,
which was placed in the Temple of Bacchus, Ceres, and Proserpine. The
Forum now contained many gems of Grecian art, among which were the
statues of Alcibiades and Pythagoras which stood near the comitium, the
Three Sibyls placed before the rostra, and a picture by Serapion, which
covered the balconies of the tabernae on the south side of the Forum.

[Sidenote: Aqua Marcia.]

In the year 144 B.C., Q. Marcius Rex constructed the Aqua Marcia, one of
the noblest of the Roman monuments, sixty-two miles in length, seven of
which were on arches, sufficiently lofty to supply the Capitoline with
pure and cold water. Seventeen years after, the Aqua Tepula was added to
the aqueducts of Rome.

[Sidenote: Triumphal Arches.]

The first triumphal arch erected to commemorate victories was in the
year B.C. 196, by L. Sertinius. Scipio Africanus erected another on the
Capitoline, and Q. Fabius, B.C. 121, raised another in honor of his
victories over the Allobroges. This spanned the Via Sacra where it
entered the Forum, and at that time was a conspicuous monument, though
vastly inferior to the arches of the imperial regime.

[Sidenote: Temple of Concord.]

[Sidenote: Basilica Opimia.]

When tranquillity was restored to Rome after the riots connected with
the murder of the Gracchi, the Senate ordered a Temple of Concord to be
built, B.C. 121, in commemoration of the event. This temple was on the
elevated part of the Vulcanal, and was of considerable magnitude. It was
used for the occasional meetings of the Senate, and contained many
valuable works of art. Adjoining this temple, Opimius, the consul,
erected the Basilica Opimia, which was used by the silversmiths, who
were the bankers and pawnbrokers of Rome. The whole quarter on the north
side of the Forum, where this basilica stood, was the Roman exchange -
the focus for all monetary transactions.

[Sidenote: Private palaces.]

[Sidenote: Houses of the nobles.]

The increasing wealth and luxury of Rome, especially caused by the
conquest of Asia, led to the erection on the Palatine of those
magnificent private residences, which became one of the most striking
features the capital. The first of these historical houses was built by
M. Livius Drusus, and overlooked the city. It afterwards passed into the
hands of Crassus, Cicero, and Censorinus. Pompey had a house on the
Palatine, but afterwards transferred his residence to the Casinae,
another aristocratic quarter. M. Aemilius Lepidus also lived in a
magnificent palace; the house of Crassus was still more splendid,
adorned with columns of marble from Mount Hymettus. The house of
Catullus excelled even that of Crassus. This again was excelled by that
of Aquillius on the Viminal, which for some time was the most splendid
in Rome, until Lucullus occupied nearly the whole of the Pincian Hill
with his gardens and galleries of art, which contained some of the
_chefs d'oeuvre_ of antiquity. The gardens of Servilius, which lay
on the declivity of the Houses of Aventine, were adorned with Greek
statues, exceeded in beauty by those of Sallust between the Pincian and
the Quirinal hills, built with the spoils of Numidia, and ultimately the
property of the emperors. The house of Clodius on the Palatine, near to
that of Cicero, was one of the finest in Rome, occupied before him by
Scaurus, who gave for it nearly fifteen million sesterces, about
$650,000. It was adorned with Greek paintings and sculptures. The house
of Cicero, which he bought of Crassus, cost him $150,000. Its atrium was
adorned with Greek marble columns thirty-eight feet high. Hortensius
lived in a house on the Palatine, afterwards occupied by Augustus. The
residence of his friend Atticus, on the Quirinal, was more modest, whose
chief ornament was a grove. Pompey surrounded his house with gardens and

[Sidenote: Destruction and rebuilding of the Capitol.]

The year 83 B.C. was marked by the destruction by fire of the old
Capitoline Temple, which had withstood the ravages of the Gauls. Sulla
aspired to rebuild it, and caused to be transported to Rome for that
purpose the column of the Olympian Zeus at Athens. It was completed by
Caesar, and its roof was gilded at an expense of $15,000,000. The
pediment was adorned with statuary, and near it was a colossal statue of

[Sidenote: Theatre of Pompey.]

In the early ages of the republic there were no theatres at Rome,
theatrical representations being regarded as demoralizing. The regular
drama was the last development even of Grecian genius. The Roman
aristocracy set their faces against dramatic entertainments till after
the conquest of Greece. These plays were introduced and performed on
temporary stages in the open air, or in wooden buildings. There was no
grand theatre till Pompey erected one of stone, B.C. 55, in the Campus
Martius, which was capable of holding eighty thousand spectators, and it
had between its numerous pillars three thousand bronze statues.
[Footnote: _Plin. H. N._, xxxvi. 24.] He also erected, behind his
theatre, a grand portico of one hundred pillars, which became one of the
most fashionable lounging-places of Rome, and which was adorned with
statues and images. Pompey also built various temples.

[Sidenote: Forum Julian.]

[Sidenote: Basilica Julia.]

His great rival however surpassed him in labors to ornament the capital.
Caesar enlarged the Forum, or rather added a new one, the ground of which
cost $2,500,000. It was called the Forum Julian, and was three hundred
and forty feet long by two hundred wide, containing a temple of Venus.
He did not live, however, to carry out his magnificent plans. He
contemplated building an edifice, for the assembly of the Comitia
Tributa, of marble, with a portico inclosing a space of a mile square,
and also the erection of a temple to Mars of unparalleled size and
magnificence. He commenced the Basilica Julia and the Curia Julia - vast
buildings, which were completed under the emperors.

[Sidenote: Rome under the Emperors.]

Such were the principal edifices of Rome until the imperial sway.
Augustus boasted that he found the city of brick and left it of marble.
It was not until the emperors embellished the city with amphitheatres,
theatres, baths, and vast architectural monuments that it was really
worthy to be regarded as the metropolis of the world. The great
improvements of Rome in the republican period were of a private nature,
such as the palaces of senatorial families. There were no temples equal
to those in the Grecian cities either for size, ornament, or beauty.
Indeed, Rome was never famous for temples, but for edifices of material
utility rather than for the worship of the gods; yet the Romans, under
the rule of the aristocracy, were more religious than the Corinthians or

[Sidenote: Works of Augustus.]

[Sidenote: The Subura.]

[Sidenote: Forum Romanum.]

[Sidenote: Its magnificence.]

[Sidenote: Surrounding buildings.]

[Sidenote: Temple of Castor and Pollux.]

[Sidenote: Basilica Julia.]

[Sidenote: Arch of Septimius Severus, and columns of Trajan.]

[Sidenote: Forum Julium.]

[Sidenote: Forum Augusti.]

[Sidenote: Forum of Trajan.]

[Sidenote: Basilica Ulpia.]

On the destruction of the senatorial or constitutional party that had
ruled since the expulsion of the kings, and probably before, and the
peaceful accession of Augustus, B.C. 31, a great impulse was given to
the embellishments of the city. His long reign, his severe taste, and
his immense resources, - undisputed master of one hundred and fifty
millions of subjects, - enabled him to carry out the designs of Julius,
and to restore an immense number of monuments falling to decay. But Rome
was even then deficient in those things which most attract attention in
our modern capitals - the streets and squares. The longest street of Rome
was scarcely three fourths of a mile in length; but the houses upon it
were of great altitude. Moreover the streets were narrow and dark -
scarcely more than fifteen feet in width. But they were not encumbered
with carriages. Private equipages, which form one of the most imposing
features of a modern city, were unknown. There was nothing attractive in
a Roman street, dark, narrow, and dirty, with but few vehicles, and with
dingy shops, like those of Paris in the Middle Ages. The sun scarcely
ever penetrated to them. They were damp and cold. The greater part of
the city belonged to wealthy and selfish capitalists, like Crassus, who
thought more of their gains than the health or beauty of the city. The
Subura, the Sub Velia, and the Velabrum, built in the valleys, were
choked up with tall houses, frequently more, and seldom less, than
seventy feet in height. The hills alone were covered with aristocratic
residences, temples, and public monuments. The only open space, where
the poor people could get fresh air and extensive prospect, was Circus
Maximus and the Forum Romanum. The former was three fourths of a mile in
length and one eighth in breadth, surrounded with a double row of
benches, the lower of stone and the upper of wood, and would seat two
hundred and eighty-five thousand spectators. The Forum was the centre of
architectural splendor, as well as of life and business. Its original
site extended from the eastern part of the Capitoline to the spot where
the Velia begins to ascend, and was bounded on the south by the Via
Sacra, which extended to the arx or citadel. It was that consecrated
street by which the augurs descended when they inaugurated the great
festivals of the republic, and in which lived the Pontifex Maximus.
Although the Forum Romanum was only seven hundred feet by four hundred
and seventy, yet it was surrounded by and connected with basilicas,
halls, porticoes, temples, and shops. It was a place of great public
resort for all classes of people - a scene of life and splendor rarely if
ever equaled, and having some resemblance to the crowded square of
Venice on which St. Mark's stands. Originally it was a marketplace, busy
and lively, a great resort where might be seen "good men walking quietly
by themselves," [Footnote: _Plautus Cuve_, iv. 1. ] "flash men
strutting about without a denarius in their purses," "gourmands clubbing
for a dinner," "scandal-mongers living in glass houses," "perjured
witnesses, liars, braggarts, rich and erring husbands, worn-out
harlots," and all the various classes which now appear in the crowded
places of London or Paris. In this open space the people were assembled
on great public occasions, and here they were addressed by orators and
tribunes. Immediately surrounding the Forum Romanum, or in close
proximity to it, were the most important public buildings of the city in
which business was transacted - the courts of law, the administrative
bureaus, the senate chamber and the principal temples, as well as
monuments and shops. On the north side was the Comitium, an open space
for holding the Comitia Curiata and heavy lawsuits, and making speeches
to the assembled people. During the kingly government the temples of
Janus and Vesta and Saturn were erected, also the Curia Hostilia, a
senate-house, the Senaculum, the Mamertine Prison, and the Tabernae or
porticoes and shops inclosing the Forum. During the republic the temple
of Castor and Pollux, which served for the assembly of the Senate and
judicial business, was erected, not of the largest size, but very rich
and beautiful. The Basilica Portia, where the tribunes of the people
held their assemblies, was founded by Cato the Censor, and this was
followed by the Basilica Fulvia, with columns of Phrygian marble,
admired by Pliny for its magnificence, the Basilica Sempronia, the
Temple of Concord, and the Triumphal Arch of Fabius, to commemorate his
victories over the Allobroges. Under the empire, the magnificent
Basilica Julia was erected for the sittings of the law courts, and its
immense size may be inferred from the fact that one hundred and eighty
judges, divided into four courts, with four separate tribunals, with
seats for advocates and spectators, were accustomed to assemble.
Tiberius erected a triumphal arch near the Temple of Saturn. Domitian
built the Temple of Vespasian and Titus, and erected to himself a
colossal equestrian statue. Near it rose the temples of Divus-Julius and
of Antoninus and Faustina. Beside these were the Triumphal Arch of
Septimius Severus, still standing; the Columns of Phocas and Trajan, the
latter of which is the finest monument of its kind in the world, one
hundred and twenty-seven feet high, with a spiral band of admirable
reliefs containing two thousand five hundred human figures. Beside
these, new fora of immense size were constructed by various emperors,
not for political business so much as courts of justice. The Forum
Julium, which connected with the old Forum Romanum, was virtually a
temple of great magnificence. In front of it was the celebrated bronze
horse of Lysippus, and the temple was enriched with precious offerings
and adorned with pictures from the best Greek artists. It was devoted to
legal business. The Forum Augusti was still larger, and also inclosed a
temple, in which the Senate assembled to consult about wars and
triumphs, and was surrounded with porticoes in which the statues of the
most eminent Roman generals were placed, while on each side were the
triumphal arches of Germanicus and Drusus. More extensive and
magnificent than either of the old fora was the one which Trajan
erected, in the centre of which was the celebrated column of the
emperor, so universally admired, while the sides were ornamented with a
double colonnade of gray Egyptian marble, the columns of which were
fifty-five feet in height. This was one of the most gigantic structures
in Rome, covering more ground than the Flavian Amphitheatre, and built
by the celebrated Apollodorus of Damascus. It filled the whole space
between the Capitoline and Quirinal. The Basilica Ulpia was only one
division of this vast edifice, divided internally by four rows of
columns of gray granite, and paved with slabs of marble.

[Sidenote: Beauty of the Roman Forum.]

Nothing in Rome, or perhaps any modern city, exceeded the glory and
beauty of the Forum, with the adjoining basilica, and other public
buildings, filled with statues and pictures, and crowded with people.
The more aristocratic loungers sought the retired promenade afforded by
the porticoes near the Circus Flaminius, where the noise and clamor of
the crowded streets, the cries of venders, the sports of boys, and the
curses of wagoners, could not reach them. The Forum was the peculiar
glory of the republican period, where the Gracchi enlightened the people
on their political rights, where Cato calmed the passions of the mob,
where Cicero and Hortensius delivered their magnificent harangues.

[Sidenote: Works of Augustus.]

[Sidenote: Temple of Apollo.]

[Sidenote: Theatre of Marcellus.]

The glory of the Augustan age was more seen in the magnificent buildings
which arose upon the hills, although he gave attention to the completion
of many works of utility or beauty in other parts of the city. He
restored the Capitoline temple and the theatre of Pompey; repaired
aqueducts; finished the Forum and Basilica Julia; and entirely built the
Curia Julia. He founded, on the Palatine, the Imperial Palace,
afterwards enlarged by his successors until it entirely covered the
original city of Romulus. Among the most beautiful of his works was the
Temple of Apollo, the columns of which were of African marble, between
which were the statues of the fifty Danaids. In the temple was a
magnificent statue of Apollo, and around the altar were the images of
four oxen - the work of Miron, so beautifully sculptured that they seemed
alive. The temple was of the finest marble; its gates were of ivory,
finely sculptured. Attached to this temple was a library, where the
poets, orators, and philosophers assembled, and recited their
productions. The Forum Augusti was another of the noblest monuments of
this emperor, in order to provide accommodation for the crowds which
overflowed the Forum Romanum. He also built the theatre of Marcellus,
capable of holding twenty thousand spectators.

[Sidenote: Pantheon.]

[Sidenote: Thermae Agrippae.]

[Sidenote: Campus Martius.]

[Sidenote: Works of the Nobles.]

Nor was Augustus alone the patron of the arts. His son-in-law, and prime
minister, Agrippa, adorned the city with many noble structures, of which
the Pantheon remains to attest his munificence. This temple, the best
preserved of all the monuments of ancient splendor, stood in the centre
of the Campus Martius, and contained only the images of the deities
immediately connected with the Julian race and the early history of
Rome. Agrippa was the first to establish those famous baths, which
became the most splendid monuments of imperial munificence. The Thermae
Agrippae stood at the back of the Pantheon. It was fed by the Aqua Virgo,
an aqueduct which Agrippa purposely constructed to furnish water for his
baths. Many other architectural monuments marked the public spirit of
this enlightened and liberal minister, especially in the quarter of the
Circus Flaminius and the Campus Martius. This quarter was like a
separate town, more magnificent than any part of the ancient city. It
was adorned with temples, porticoes, and theatres, and other buildings
devoted to amusement and recreation. It had not many private houses, but
these were of remarkable splendor. Other courtiers of Augustus followed
his example for the embellishment of the city. Statilius Taurus built
the first permanent amphitheatre of stone in the Campus Martius. L.
Cornelius Balbur built at his own expense a stone theatre. L. Marcius
Philippus rebuilt the temple of Hercules Musarum, and surrounded it with
a portico. L. Cornificius built a temple of Diana. Asininius Pollio an
Atrium Libertatis; and Munatius Plaucus a temple of Saturn. Maecenas, who
lived upon the Esquiline, converted the Campus Esquilinus, near the
Subura, a pauper burial-ground offensive to both sight and health, into
beautiful gardens, called the Horti Maecenatis.

Nunc licet esquiliis habitare salubribus atque,
Aggere in Aprico Spatiari, quo modo tristes.
Albis informem spectabant ossibtis agrum.

[Footnote: Horace _Sat._ i. 8.]

Near these gardens Virgil lived, also Propertius, and probably Horace.
The Esquiline, once a plebeian quarter, seems to have been selected by
the literary men, who sought the favor of Maecenas, for their abode. Ovid
lived near the capitol, at the southern extremity of the Quirinal.

[Sidenote: Mausoleum of Augustus.]

Among the other buildings which Augustus erected, should not be omitted
the magnificent Mausoleum, or the tomb of the imperial family at the
northern part of the Campus Martius, near which lay the remains of Sulla
and of Caesar, and which remained the burial-place of his family down to
the time of Hadrian. [Transcriber's Note: Lengthy footnote relocated to
chapter end.] He also brought from Egypt the obelisk which now stands on
Mount Citorio, and which was placed in that receptacle for
monuments - the Campus Martius.

[Sidenote: Imperial palace.]

Tiberius did but little for the improvement of his capital beyond
erecting a triumphal arch, in commemoration of the exploits of
Germanicus, on the Via Sacra, and establishing the Praetorian Camp near

Online LibraryJohn LordThe Old Roman World, : the Grandeur and Failure of Its Civilization → online text (page 9 of 50)