So a funny thing happened on the way to the Forum …
It didn’t actually, but I could NOT avoid using that line.
Craig and I spent a sweltering day in Ancient Rome, looking at ancient stuff and poking around ruins. We wandered the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Forum. It was exhausting but so interesting we didn’t feel it for hours.
The Colosseum, originally the Flavian Amphitheatre (Latin: Amphitheatrum Flavium, Italian Anfiteatro Flavio or Colosseo), is an elliptical amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire. It is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and Roman engineering.
Arch of Constantine
The Arch of Constantine (Italian: Arco di Costantino) is a triumphal arch in Rome, situated between the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill. It was erected by the Roman Senate to commemorate Constantine I’s victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge on October 28, 312.
The Palatine Hill (Latin: Collis Palatium or Mons Palatinus) is the centremost of the Seven Hills of Rome and is one of the most ancient parts of the city. It stands 40 metres above the Forum Romanum, looking down upon it on one side, and upon the Circus Maximus on the other.
Finally to the Forum
The Roman Forum (Latin: Forum Romanum, Italian: Foro Romano) is a rectangular forum (plaza) surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the centre of the city of Rome. Citizens of the ancient city referred to this space, originally a marketplace, as the Forum Magnum, or simply the Forum.
It was for centuries the centre of Roman public life: the site of triumphal processions and elections, venue for public speeches, criminal trials, and gladiatorial matches, and nucleus of commercial affairs. Here statues and monuments commemorated the city’s great men. The teeming heart of ancient Rome, it has been called the most celebrated meeting place in the world, and in all history.
The Arch of Titus
The Arch of Titus is a 1st-century honorific arch located on the Via Sacra, Rome, just to the south-east of the Roman Forum. It was constructed in c.82 AD by the Roman Emperor Domitian shortly after the death of his older brother Titus to commemorate Titus’ victories, including the Siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
It became a symbol of the Jewish diaspora. Roman Jews refused to walk under it. However, when David Ben Gurion declared independence for the State of Israel, the chief rabbi gathered the entire Roman Jewish community by the arch and in solemn procession, walked the opposite way under the arch to symbolise the return to Jerusalem and Israel.
Inside the Curia Julia
Curia Julia is the third named Curia, or Senate House, in the ancient city of Rome. It was built in 44 BC when Julius Caesar replaced Faustus Cornelius Sulla’s reconstructed Curia Cornelia, which itself had replaced the Curia Hostilia. The work, however, was interrupted by Caesar’s assassination at the Theatre of Pompey where the Senate had been meeting temporarily while the work was completed. The project was eventually finished by Caesar’s successor Augustus in 29 BC.
Arch of Septimius Severus
The white marble Arch of Septimius Severus (Italian: Arco di Settimio Severo) at the northwest end of the Roman Forum is a triumphal arch dedicated in AD 203 to commemorate the Parthian victories of Emperor Septimius Severus and his two sons, Caracalla and Geta, in the two campaigns of 194/195 and 197-199.
After the death of Septimius Severus, his sons were initially joint emperors. Caracalla had Geta assassinated in 212; Geta’s memorials were destroyed and all images or mentions of him were removed from public buildings and monuments. Accordingly Geta’s image and inscriptions referring to him were removed from the arch.
The House of the Vestal Virgins
The House of the Vestal Virgins (Latin: Atrium Vestae) was located behind the circular Temple of Vesta at the eastern edge of the Roman Forum, between the Regia and the Palatine Hill.
I’ve long been interested in the Vestal Virgins. In ancient Roman religion, they were priestesses of Vesta, goddess of the hearth. They were considered fundamental to the security of Rome and protected the sacred fire that was not allowed to go out. The Vestals were freed of the usual social obligations to marry and bear children, and took a vow of chastity in order to devote themselves to the study and correct observance of state rituals that were off-limits to the male colleges of priests.
The Vestals were ordained into the priesthood before puberty & sworn to celibacy for 30 years. These 30 years were divided into decade-long periods during which they were respectively students, servants, and teachers.
Afterwards their 30 year term was up, they were retired and replaced by a new inductee. Once retired, a former Vestal was given a pension and allowed to marry. A marriage to a former Vestal was highly honoured, and thought to bring good luck.
It doesn’t sound like the worst way to live as a woman in Ancient Rome.