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the period now spoken of, the Rostra stood, according
to him, at one end of the Comitium, about the point 14.

In the year 698 the Curia Hostilia was burned to the
ground, and Julius Caesar profited by the accident for
transforming the place into a new and more splendid
shape. He enabled Paulus -^railius to complete the
Basilica which bore the name of his family ; and he
himself founded his Basilica Julia on the site of the
Sempronia, transferring the Rostra likewise to a position
in front of his new building. His successor executed
another of his plans, the erection of a noble hall for the
senate instead of that which had perished in the confla-
gration ; and Bunsen maintains that we see the remains
of the edifice which Augustus so constructed, in that


massive pile of brick (15) beliind tlie church of Santa
Maria Liberatrice, which the antiquaries more com-
monly refer to the older Curia. In connexion with this
edifice, also, he ingeniously places the celebrated Three
Columns of marble, which occupy (at 16 on the plan)
the most conspicuous position in the open space. They
are singularly fine specimens of the Corinthian order,
supporting an ornate yet well-proportioned entablature ;
and late examinations have exliibited them as belonging
to an extensive and admirably-planned building, whose
name, date, and purpose have hardly been stated alike
by any two antiquaries.* Our author assigns them to an
edifice built by Augustus, which was styfed sometimes
the Chalcidicum, and sometimes a Temple of Minerva,
but which, at all events, communicated with the Curia
of Julius. The Temple of Castor and Pollux is sup-
posed by Bunsen to have stood between the Three
Columns and the Basilica Julia.

The Forum, thus for the second time built by Julius
and Augustus, suffered severely in Nero's conflagration.
Domitian and others erected new edifices, of which the
Temple of Vespasian and that of Antoninus are the
only ones that have left remarkable ruins ; and we
next reach a period in which the corner nearest to the
Capitol became the site of a multitude of monuments.
The Arch of Septimius Severus is the most conspicuous
among these effbrts of decaying art ; another (at 17 on
the plan) is the " nameless column with a buried base,"
which, no longer either nameless or buried, has been
proved, by the inscription on its pedestal, to have been
erected in the year of grace 608, in honour of the eastern
usurper Phocas, having been stolen for that purpose
from some edifice of a better time. Tliree shapeless
bases, near this pillar, belong to the same era ; as does
also, in all probability, a structure somewhat resembling
the Rostra, which may be observed between the Arch of
Severus and the Temple of Vespasian.

• See Burgess' Rome, vol. i. note, p. 356 ; and Dublin Review,
No. IX.


Here, in the earliest stage of the dark ages, we leave
the Roman Forum for a while, to observe the adjoining
monuments of the classical times.

No light is throAvn on the topography or arrange-
ments of the Forum Romanum by the other great
Fora which lay on the north and east in its immediate
neighbourhood. The Forum of Julius Caesar is built
over, and its exact site not well ascertained ; those of
Augustus and Nerva have left some noble ruins, but their
place, choked up by streets, is with difficulty distin-
guishable ; and that of Trajan, the finest of all, was
intended for purposes quite different from those that
were served by the republican prototype. We may,
therefore, without in the mean time turning aside to
these, finish our survey of the Campo Vaccine.

Proceeduig from the site of the Arch of Fabius towards
the Colosseum, we leave the Forum, and find ourselves
on the Sacred Way. On our right rises the Palatine
Hill : on our left lie several ruins of much magnifi-
cence. We first encounter the circular Temple of Re-
mus, an miperial work, which is now formed into the
vestibule of a church, dedicated to the Saints Cosmas
and Damian. This building is followed by one of the
most imposing remnants of ancient grandeur, which is
usually called the Temple of Peace ; but is really, as
has been clearly established, a Basilica, erected, or rather
completed, by Constantine. Three huge vaulted roofs,
fretted with coffers, standing side by side, face the road ;
and recent levellings, laying open the ground-plan of the
edifice, show that these composed one side of a rect-
angular building divided into three aisles, and enclosing
a space of 300 feet by 230. The ascending road next
leads us to the Arch of Titus, the oldest and most
elegant of those triumphal edifices now remaining. It
possesses an especial interest as having been erected in
commemoration of the fall of Jerusalem, the sacred things
of whose temple are still seen figured on its frieze.

Immediately beyond this melancholy monument are
the i-uins of the double Temple of Venus and Rome,


built, and even planned, by Hadrian, and still exhibit-
ing, notwithstanding the criticism for which the im-
perial artist punished the architect ApoUodorus with
death, the vestiges of an excellent plan, and of great
richness of execution. On a rectangular basement
elevated twenty-six feet above the surrounding level,
and approached by broad stau'cases at each end, was
placed an inner platform raised on seven marble steps,
and supporting the temple, round which ran a colon-
nade 860 feet in length by 175 in width. Within
this peristyle rose the walls of the cella, whicli was
entered at each end, by a portico of marble columns
leading into a vestibule. The building was divided in
the midst by a cross wall, and facing each of the porti-
cos was a vaulted and fretted niche, in which sat re-
spectively the statues of the two divinities to whom the
fane was dedicated. Excavations have discovered very
splendid fragments, and allowed the plan to be distinctly
traced ; but no part of the temple remains erect except
the two niches and portions of the two cellae.'"

The Sacred Way is believed, after quitting the Forum
at the Arch of Fabius, to have passed through that
of Titus, and thence to the fountain called the Meta
Sudans, which stands in front of the Colosseum. In its
course from this last point, round the Palatine and
through the Circus iMaximus, it assumed the title of
the Via Triumphalis, from the processions to which it
was dedicated.

We may now resume our historical sketch of the
vicissitudes of the city.

The magnificence of Imperial Rome expanded at once
under its first emperor, who, with equal liberality,
dedicated the public wealth and his own private fortune
to the embellishment of his metropolis, while his example
stimulated several of the leading men in the state, parti-

* For an ingenious and instructive restoration of this temple by
Pardini, an Italian architect, see Burgess' Rome, vol. i., or the
Beschreibung, vol. iii. part 1., and its plates.


cularly Maecenas and the enterprising Agrippa. Of the
edifices of the Augustan period, we still see very remark-
able remains, including some of the finest monuments of
the city, and one temple the most admired of all.

On the Palatine Hill Augustus erected the earliest
Palace of the Caesars. The dwellings of Hortensius the
orator, and the demagogue Clodius, together with Cicero's
house overlooking the Forum, made way for this mag-
nificent mansion, with its temples, porticos, and libraries.
Of a Forum designed by the same emperor, between
the Roman Forum and the foot of the Quirinal Hill,,
there remain, at the Arco de' Pantani, 600 or 600 feet
of a lofty, strong, and nicely finished wall, with columuKS
supposed to have belonged to a temple of Mars the
Avenger, constructed within the area. No fewer than
eighty-five republican temples were rebuilt during the
same prince's reign. But his exertions were chiefly
directed to the embellishment of the Campus Martins ;
and accordingly, it is amidst the streets of the Papal city
that we have to search for the relics of his time. The
fallen ruins which filled up the mterior of the Theatre
of jMarcellus, have raised huge mounds on which is built
the Orsini Palace ; and of the external walls, converted
into a fortress in the twelfth century, there still stands a
portion transformed into dirty shops, and presenting, to
the extent of eleven arches, both stories of the ancient
elevation. These remains have excited the admiration
of architects : the Ionic of the upper story is positively
good, and the Doric of the under one is recognised as the
best specimen of the indifferent form given by the Ro-
mans to that severe order.* The Portico of Octavia was
one of the most splendid of the Augustan structures, and
became a treasure-house of ancient art, containing many
of the most exquisite paintings and statues of the Greek
artists.t It was a rectangular peristyle, entered by a
magnificent vestibule, and containing two fine temples,

* Woods, Letters of an Architect, vol. i. p. 351.
t Plinii Historia Naturalis, Jib. xxxiv. cap. 6. Lib, xxxv. cap.
10. Lib. xxxvi. cap, 5.


besides other buildings. Its remains stand near to the
theatre of Marcellus, in and beside the modern fish-
market. They consist chiefly of three columns of the
temple of Juno, and of a portion of the vestibule, which
was originally formed by two Corinthian colonnades of
marble, having four columns and two pilasters in each,
and supporting an entablature and pediment. Four of
the columns and all the pilasters are still erect, with a
part of the supported members.

The vastness which, even in the last age of the repub-
lic, had begun to distmguish the sepulchral architecture
of Rome, is proved to have subsisted in the Augustan
period by several of the tombs on the Appian Way, the
most remarkable of which, the Columbarium, or com-
mon sepulchre of the household of Livia, has been
wantonly destroyed since the middle of last century ;*
and the same fact is attested l:>y that huge and gloomy
Pyramid Avhich is built up in the city wall, near the
gate of St Paul, transmitting to us the name of the
obscure Roman Caius Cestius, and casting its shadow
over the solitary and beautiful burying-ground of the
Protestants. But in a mean quarter of the modern city
we find the Mausoleum of Augustus himself, now a
shapeless heap of ruins, the interior of which has been
converted into an amphitheatre, where are exhibited
bull-fights, fireworks, horsemanship and rope-dancing.
Strabo describes this building as the most remarkable
object in the Campus Martins, as surrounded by a wood
with shady walks, raised on a lofty substruction of white
stone, planted to its summit with evergreens, crowned
by a bronze statue of the emperor, and containing re-
ceptacles for his ashes, with those of his kindred and

Agrippa's works vied both in splendour and utility
with those of his master. He decorated the city with
700 wells, and 105 foun tarns ; he constructed a series of
sewers in the Campus Martins ; and he erected a hall

• Yenuti, Roma Antica, torn. ii. p. 9. Ed. 1763.


for the mock assemblies of the people. But his other
undertakings are eclipsed by his Thermse or Baths, and
his celebrated Temple, usually called the Pantheon,
which was connected with the foiTner buildings, or com-
posed a part of them. The Thenuse of this age gave
the hint for those vast edifices which the emperors after-
wards constructed for the use of the people under the
same name, but with a far wider extension of purpose.
Little is known as to Agrippa's baths, except their
position among the streets now covering the Campus
Martins ; and the insignificant remains which exist
throw no light on their plan.

The Pantheon, according to the inscription on its
frieze, was dedicated in the year of the city 727, and was
afterwards restored by Hadrian and Septimius Sevenis.
Its consecration (a. d. 608) as a Christian church, under
the title of Santa Maria Rotonda, has preserved, for the
admiration of the modern world, this most beautiful of
heathen fanes. It is situated m the filthy herb-market ;
the flight of steps which led up to its portico is nearly
buried in rubbish ; two hideous modern belfries deform
its summit ; emperors, Saracens, and popes, have succes-
sively plundered it of its bronzes and marbles ; and the
floods of the Tiller periodically inundate its floor. But
through degradation, nakedness, and disfigurement, its
serene beauty shines out undimmed ; and its name is
still the synonjane of architectural perfection. The
faultless proportions and striking effect of the portico
which fronts the temple, while they cannot be unfelt
even by the unprofessional visitant, are most duly valued
by the architect ; but, in the interior, every mind
which possesses the faculties that appreciate art, must at
the same time be entranced and awed.

The portico is formed b}^ sixteen Corinthian columns
of granite, with bases and capitals of Grecian marble.
Eight of these stand in front, supporting an entablature,
above which rises a pediment, once adorned with bas-
reliefs. Through a short vestibule, supported by fluted
marble antse and pilasters, we enter the Cell, which con-


sists of a circular drum sustaining a dome. On the
marble door-way hang magnificent gates of bronze,
which are probably those of an ancient temple. The
pavement of the interior is composed of porphyry and
marble, disposed in large alternate slabs. The drum or
upright wall, contains seven large niches ; while small
ones occur in the intermediate spaces, as well as in the
larger recesses. Columns of pavonazzetto and giallo
antico flank the main niches ; and above these a beautiful
and perfectly preserved cornice runs round the whole
building. Over a second story in the drum, formed
by an attic sustaining an upper cornice, rises the beau-
tiful dome, which is divided internally into square pan-
nels, now plastered with stucco, but supposed to have
been originally inlaid with bronze ; and in the centre of
it a circular aperture admits the only light which the
place receives. Christian altars now fill the recesses of
the temple of Jupiter the Avenger ; and beneath one of
these shrines reposes the dust of Raffaelle d'Urbino.*

Either to the Augustan age or to the last days of the
republic seem to belong the remains of a temple and
circus, which stood in the beautiful grounds of the liis-
torian Sallust, on the Pincian Hill, named from them
the Mount of Gardens. To the former age, too, we may
perhaps refer the romantic grotto, which, beyond the
walls in the green and wooded valley of the Almo, re-
calls the poetical legend of Numa's intercourse with the
nymph Egeria.

The reign of Tiberius is chiefly distinguished in the
topography of Rome by the erection of a camp by
Sejanus for the Praetorian guards. This huge barrack
became truly the citadel of Rome ; three of its sides
were taken into the rampart of Aurelian, and the camp
was dismantled and its fourth wall thrown down by

* Dimensions : — Height of columns in portico, 46.^ English feet;
diameter of shafts, 3; height of door-way, 39; width, 19 : — Inter-
nal diameter of dome, 143 ; internal height from the ground the
same, of which height the dome occupies one-half. — Taylor and
Cressy's Rome, 1821.


Constantine. In the Villa Macao, a vineyard of the
Jesuits, we still see remarkable specimens of the arches
of Tiberius, interspersed with the hasty work of Beli-
sarius' fortification, and with modern additions.*

Caligula extended the buildings of the Imperial Pa-
lace on the Palatine, joining that hill to the Capitol by
a bridge ; and the unfortunate Claudius erected aque-
ducts, of which there are noble remains at the Porta
Maggiore, where operations in 1838 uncovered a curious
tomb built up in the imperial brickwork.

From Augustus to Nero, the eastern quarter of the
city was the favourite residence of the nobles, whose
mansions, placed beyond the old walls, stood in gardens
between the great roads. In this district was the palace
of Maecenas, and that of the Laterani, destined to be so
celebrated in Christian Rome. An inferior class now
occupied the three streets, which alone, till the end of this
period, deserved the name. These were the Via Sacra,
the Carinse, and the Suburra, the two latter of which
had been in the republican times the aristocratic quarter.

But every thing that had been done for the em-
bellishment of the city was surpassed by the extrava-
gantly magnificent undertakings of Nero. The circus
in the region of the Vatican, founded by Caligula, and
completed by him, is covered by the sacristy and part
of the church of St Peter, and was, beyond a doubt, the
scene of the earliest Christian martyrdoms in Rome.t
His public market has disappeared, and his splendid
baths lie buried beneath modem palaces near the Col-
lege of the Sapienza. The Domus Transitoria, which
formed his first addition to the palace of the Caesars,
was destroyed by the frightful conflagration which he
is charged with having wilfully kindled, and which,
burning to the ground three of the fourteen regions of

* The circuit of its three remaining sides measures in all 5400
feet. — Burgess, vol. ii. p. 306.

+ Suetonius in Nerone, cap. 22. Taciti Annalium, lib. xiv.
cap. 14; lib. xv. cap. 44. Compare the Beschreibung, vol. ii.
part 1. pp. 13, &c.



the city, and almost entirely ruining seven more,* pro-
duced a reconsti-uction of Rome under the emperor's
plans and superintendence. The streets were made for
the first time wide and straight, and were lined with
colonnades ; and the height of dwelling-houses, then re-
stricted to seventy feet, was afterwards limited to sixty.

But the elegance of all the new fabrics was eclipsed
by the pomp of Nero's huge palace, called the Golden
House. On the southern shoulder of the Palatine, where
it approaches the Esquiline, stood the main buildings of
that mansion, fronted by a vestibule admitting the em-
peror's colossal statue, which was probably placed some-
where on the site now occupied by Hadrian's Temple of
Venus and Rome. The picturesquely wooded grounds
extended over a large portion of the Caelian Mount,
where, marked by the cypress thicket and the solitary
palm-tree of the Passionist convent, massy remains are
supposed to belong to the celebrated reservoir ; the arti-
ficial lakes of the park filled the valley of the Colosseum ;
and its lodges and walks rose on the Esquiline Hill, dis-
placing the house, tomb, and gardens of Maecenas, of
which, as well as of Nero's erections, the ruins probably
exist amidst the later buildings of the Baths of Titus.t

Vespasian and his vutuous successor haye bequeathed
to us these latter monuments, together with the Colos-
seum or Flavian Amphitheatre.

Titus demolished a great part of the stupendous piles
of Nero, and availed himself of their substructions on
the Esquiline, for the erection of those buildings which
still stretch out their intricate corridors on the heights
overlooking the Colosseum. From the form of these
remains, and from that of the separate reservoir called
the Sette Salle, it cannot be doubted that baths consti-
tuted, at all events, a part of their plan ; but the design
of the edifice, founded on older works, and altered and

* Taciti Annal. lib. xv. cap. 40. Beschreibung, vol. i. part 1.
p. 185-191.

■f Beneath these latter ruins, too, lies the grave of Horace. —
Sueton. in Vita Horatii.


extended by the later emperors, especially Trajan, is not
easily comprehended, and is even supposed to have been
an imperial residence. Its remains, though very strik-
ing, have owed their chief interest to the beautiful paint-
ings they yet contain.

The Flavian Amphitheatre, the boast of Rome and of
the world, founded by Vespasian, was completed and
dedicated by Titus in the eightieth year of our era, ten
years after the taking of Jerusalem. It received suc-
cessive additions, alterations, and repairs, till the time
of Theodoric the Goth, who fitted it up for its former
uses in the year 519 ; during the middle ages, it was
occupied as a fortress by Roman nobles ; in the fifteenth
century, its materials began to be used for the buUdings
of Papal Rome, a spoliation which continued two hun-
dred years ;* and after a long period of neglect and
decay, it was consecrated, in 1750, to the memory of
those Christian martyrs who had perished in its arena.
Since that time it has been protected from pillage by the
reverence due to the crucifix which occupies its centre,
to the fourteen stations of prayer which are disposed
round its arena, and to the soldiers who sentinel its
gates ; and during the present ceq^tury, noble walls have
been built by the Popes to prop up the tottering portions
of the fabric.

The gigantic edifice is in form an ellipse ; and its ex-
ternal elevation consisted of four stories, presenting 240
arches in all. These were disposed in the three lower
stories, each of which had eighty arches, supported by
half-columns, Doric m the first range, Ionic in the second,
and Corinthian in the third ; while the fourth story had
externally a solid wall, faced with Corinthian pilasters,
and lighted by forty rectangular windows. Of this

• The materials of the amphitheatre were used in at least the fol-
lowing buildings :— the Palace of St Mark (a. d. 1470) ; the Palace
of the Chancery (1494) ; some buildingg in the Capitol and else-
where (1531— l(j04. — Hobhouse, p. 275); the immense Farnese
Palace (1535); and the Barberini Palace (1623), commemorated
in the Roman saving, "What the Barbarians did not, the Barberini
did."— See Gibbon, chap. 71.


majestic circuit, scarcely a half now presents its original
height ; and throughout a great part of it the travertine
arcades are demolished, and the rough wall inside, par-
tially erect, and tangled with grass and shrubs, is covered
by the modem support. In the interior, the centre is
occupied by the oval Arena, under which subterraneous
constructions have been lately discovered, apparently de-
signed for the gladiators, wild beasts, and other apparatus
of the spectacles. Round the arena, and resting on a huge
mass of arches rising upon arches, the sloping seats for the
spectators, forming the division called the Cavea, ascend
towards the summit of the external wall. The Podium,
or covered gallery for the emperor and persons of the
first rank, formed the lowest partition of the cavea ;
behind which rise three successive orders of seats, sepa-
rated by perpendicular walls (the prsecinctiones or bal-
thei) ; and, above all, an upper gallery reached to the
vela, or moveable awning which covered in the whole.
This attic, and the uppermost row of seats, have disap-
peared ; the second range has been partially preserved ;
the lowest is nearly perfect ; but the podium is in a
ruinous state, and appears to be an addition made by some
one of the many restorers. The Regionaries say that the
Amphitheatre contained places for 87,000 spectators.*
Architects have professed to discover in the Colosseum
little that is worthy of admiration, except the vastness
of its dimensions ; but on those who do not pause to
ca,lculate by rules of art the impression produced by the
mighty ruin is altogether overpowering.

Passing over Domitian's additions to the Palatine Pa-
lace, and just noticing the Forum erected by Nerva, close
to that of Augustus, of which some striking remains are
yet visible, we reach the glorious reign of Trajan. The
Funeral Pillar of this wise sovereign, and the fragments

* A.mphitheatrum quod capitloca Ixxxvii millia. Publius Victor
in Regiou. Urbis ; in Graevii Thesauro, torn. iii. — Dimensions :— .
Superficial area, nearly six acres ; major axis, 620 English feet j
minor axis, 613 (counted to outside) ; height of outer wall, 157 ;
arena, length, 287, width, 180. — Taylor and Cressy.


of his Basilica, still bear witness to the splendour of his
Ulpian Forum, of which they are the relics. The site
of the forum is chiefly covered by modern houses and
streets ; but a space around the column was excavated
by the French to the depth of the ancient pavement,
and allows us to trace the plan of the Basilica Ulpia.
The column stood in the midst of an oblong court, two
sides of which were enclosed by a double colonnade,

Online LibraryWilliam SpaldingItaly and the Italian islands, from the earliest ages to the present time (Volume 1) → online text (page 21 of 35)