Forum of Caesar
The Forum of Caesar and the Temple of Venus Genetrix
|Location||IV Templum Pacis|
|Built in||46 BC|
|Built by/for||Gaius Julius Caesar|
|Type of structure||Imperial fora|
|Related||Theatre of Pompey, Augustus Caesar|
Caesar decided to construct a forum bearing his name in the northeast section of the Forum Romanum, of which he purchased a very expensive, select amount of parcels of land in that area. Forum construction began in 54 BC, and it was dedicated to Caesar and his deeds in 46 BC upon completion. Some scholars, however, believe that Augustus furnished the west side with the shops and offices that were considered part of the Forum of Caesar, therefore being the one to see its completion. The Forum spanned from the Argiletum on the southeast side of the Forum Romanum to the Atrium Libertatis and spanned 160 meters by 75 meters. As part of the dedication, lavish games were offered and funded by Caesar, indicating the staggering cost and thus the personal interest that Caesar had invested in the project.
The Forum of Caesar originally meant an expansion of the Forum Romanum. The Forum, however, evolved so that it served two additional purposes. As Caesar became more and more involved in this project, the Forum became a place for public business that was related to the Senate in addition to a shrine for Caesar himself as well as Venus Genetrix.
Before his assassination, Caesar would have the Senate meet him before his temple, an act deemed very unpopular by the Senate. The Forum of Caesar also had an effect on the Curia, which Caesar began to reconstruct in 44 BC. This reconstruction moved the Forum of Caesar much closer to the Curia. The ten tabernae located on the western side of the Forum and its now close approximation to the Senate house symbolized the unity that Caesar felt between himself and the Senate.
Caesar also placed a statue of his favourite horse in front of the temple. Following his assassination, a statue of Caesar riding this horse was added. Caesar (gens Julia) claimed descent from Venus through his ancestor Julus. The Temple of Venus Genetrix was completed after Caesar's assassination by Roman senators, which included lavish games in reference to Caesar's original dedication to the Forum. Caesar had plans for this temple well in advance, having dedicated the construction of a temple to Venus Victrix at the climactic Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC, though never being able to see its completion. This original dedication was done because it was Pompey's favourite goddess, and Caesar hoped to gain the goddess's favour before the battle against Pompey.
The temple was re-built after the removal of the gap between the Capitoline Hill and the Quirinal Hill, under the reigns of Domitian and Trajan; during the adaptation of the gap, a second floor of tabernae was created behind the west portico of the square and a building with pillars made of tuff blocks, named Basilica Argentaria, was erected. The new temple was inaugurated in the same day as the Trajan's Column, on May 12, 113, as attested by an inscription in the Fasti Ostienses.
The Temple of Venus Genetrix contained an important collection of statues, paintings and engravings. A gilded statue of Cleopatra VII was erected, setting a precedent for dedications to notable women in the precinct. Paintings in the forum included one of Medea, mythological Greek hero of Euripides' play Medea, as well as one of Ajax, mythological Greek hero of Sophocles' Ajax, done by Timomachus. Perhaps more personal to Caesar were six collections of engraved gems. These surpassed in number the collection of Mithridates dedicated by Caesar's rival Pompey. It is not known where or how Caesar obtained these six collections.
Following the reigns of Caesar and Augustus, a total reconstruction of the Forum took place, headed by the Roman Emperor Domitian. Why this reconstruction occurred is not exactly known. Under the reign of Titus, a massive fire ravaged the city in AD 80, including the Forum Romanum. The Forum of Caesar was not rebuilt until AD 95, however, indicating that perhaps Domitian had a personal interest in the reconstruction. This could be seen in the separation of the Curia from the Forum, symbolizing a reversal of Caesar's wish to have the Senate closely connected with him. Not much senatorial business took place in the Forum afterwards, except for the secretarium senatus in the 4th century.
In late May 2006, a team of archaeologists under the direction of Anna de Santis and Paola Catalano  unearthed an inhumation tomb dating from the 10th century BC in the Forum of Caesar, in comparison to the previous five cremation tombs unearthed there from July 1999 to April 2006.
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- Hornblower, Simon; Antony Spawforth (1996). The Oxford Classical Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Forum of Caesar.|
- "Forum of Caesar". Capitolium.org - Imperial Forums Official Website. June 26, 2002. Retrieved August 2, 2006.
- Platner, Samuel Ball; Ashby, Thomas (1929). "Forum Iulium". A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome. London: Oxford University Press. Retrieved August 2, 2006.
- Forum of Caesar (1995-2011): Archaeological Investigations, Related Studies, Exhibitions, Publications, & Digital Resources. Dr. Barbara Baldrati / F. of Caesar (Architectural Survey 2002-04).
- Forum of Caesar (1998-2011): Archaeological Investigations, Related Studies, Exhibitions, Publications, & Digital Resources. Archaeological Investigations and Restoration works (1930-33, 1998-2011).
- Forum of Caesar (1998-2011): Archaeological Investigations, Related Studies, Exhibitions, Publications, & Digital Resources. The Area before the Forums (12th-9th Century B.C., Ancient Burials and Artifacts).
- High-resolution 360° Panoramas and Images of Forum of Caesar | Art Atlas