Roman Forum Tour
Jessica Kastello | Latin
Welcome to the Roman Forum!
The Roman Forum (Forum Romanum) began as a market place, but later became the economic, political, and religious center of Rome. Today I will take you on a tour of the following locations:
- Golden Milestone
- Arch of Septimius Severus
- Arch of Titus
- Temple of Saturn
- Lapis Niger
- Temple of Vesta
Many of these structures have been reconstructed over time due to fires, but even so, they have been worn down and today we see what remains of the great Roman Forum.
The Golden Milestone, or Miliarium Aureum, was a marble column with gilded bronze at which point all major roads of the Roman Empire diverged. The names of the major cities and their distances from Rome were inscribed on it. However, the measurements were taken starting at the city gates, not the Golden Milestone. Emperor Caesar Augustus had it built around 20 BC and intended it to be a reminder to those who passed it of the central nature of the Forum and how large the Roman Empire extended. The phrase "all roads lead to Rome" is a reference to the Golden Milestone.
Today, only the base of the column remains.
Height: 345 cm
Diameter: 1 m (column), 3 m (base)
Arch of Septimius Severus
After the death of Septimius Severus, his sons, Caracalla and Geta, became joint emperors. Then, Caracalla had his men assassinate Geta in 212 AD. Geta's memorials were destroyed and records of him were removed from public buildings and monuments, so inscriptions of Geta were removed from the arch.
Today, the Arch is mostly still standing.
Height: 23 m
Width: 25 m
Depth: 12 m
Arch of Titus
The arch has intricate decorative relief sculptures depicting scenes including the spoils of the battles in Jerusalem and Titus's apotheosis, recognition by a deceased ruler's successor as having been divine/having god-like status.
The inscription on the front of the arch means: "The Roman Senate and People dedicate this to the divine Titus Vespasianus Augustus, son of the divine Vespasian."
Temple of Saturn
A statue of the god inside the temple was made of wood and filled with oil. The wooden legs were covered with bands of wool.
Most of the temple has collapsed, and only the front pillars remain standing from the third restoration, after a fire in 283 AD.
The shrine consists of an altar next to a truncated column with an inscription on it that is partially buried under stone. The inscription is carved vertically in boustrophedon style, written left to right and then right to left, alternating back and forth like a series of switchbacks. From what can be interpreted, the inscription mentions a king, so the shrine could date back to the days of the first king of Rome, Romulus, and possibly be the king's tomb, and also curses anyone who dares to disturb it, which supports the tomb theory.
The Lapis Niger was used as a meeting place near the senate house where speakers would address the public.