Roman Forum and the Remnants of Empire

The location of the Roman Forum is in a small valley between Capitoline Hill and Velian Hill. This inconspicuous location became the heart of Rome beginning in the 7th century B.C.E. From its meager beginning as a swampy marshland, it would evolve during the Imperial Period to become the center of the Roman Empire.

Overview of the Roman Forum 

The Roman Forum was the center of commercial affairs, triumphal processions, gladiatorial marches, criminal trials and elections. Additionally, the government of the Roman Empire and the administration buildings were located in this vicinity.

Other structures that were built here include Rome’s ancient temples, basilicas, triumphal arches and many statues of gods and emperors. As a result, it was the heart of the Roman empire and its ruins attract over 4.5 million visitors annually.

Roman Forum
The Roman Forum stretches 130 meters eastwards from Capitoline Hill and ends at the Arch of Titus. During the height of empire it was flanked by the Basilica Julia to the right (south) and the Basilica Aemilia to the left (north), although very little remains of these former structures in present day. Photo taken from Capitoline Hill.
Roman Forum from Palantine Hill
Photo of Roman Forum looking towards the west/southwest. Capitoline Hill is situated on the left behind the Temple of Saturn and Arch of Septimius Severus.

Arch of Septimius Severus

Although much of the ancient architecture of the Roman Forum has been destroyed over time, one of the best preserved structures is the Arch of Septimius Severus.

This monumental arch was constructed in 203 A.C.E. to commemorate two victories over the Parthians in 195 and also 199 A.C.E. The arch is named after the Emperor Septimius Severus but it also celebrates the contributions of his two sons, Caracalla and Geta.

Arch of Septimius Severus
The Arch of Septimius Severus is seen on the left and in the distant top right of the photo sits the Arch of Titus at the east end of the Roman Forum. Photo taken from Capitoline Hill

The Brutality of Caracalla

After the death of the Emperor Septimius Severus, his two sons would rule the empire jointly. However, Geta was murdered by his ambitious brother in 212 A.C.E. and Caracalla assumed complete control of the empire. Thereafter, Caracalla had all of the statues and monuments of Geta destroyed including the inscriptions dedicated to him on the Arch of Septimius Severus.

During his rule Caracalla would quickly gain a reputation for brutality. He was to be assassinated by an aggrieved soldier during a campaign against the Parthian Empire in 217 A.C.E. 

Temple of Saturn

In Roman mythology, Saturn was the god of wealth and he was associated with the golden age. The Temple of Saturn was constructed in 497 B.C.E. and therefore it is one of the oldest ruins that can still be observed at the Roman Forum.

The temple used to house the treasury of the Rome and all of the gold and silver was held there. Unfortunately, all that is left of the temple is the foundation and a set of pillars on the northern end.

Temple of Saturn
The remaining pillars and foundation of the Temple of Saturn are seen on the right hand side of the photo. Directly behind the temple is the Arch of Septimius Severus. Both of these structures sit at the foot of Capitoline Hill.

Additional Photos:

Roman Forum
Unique photo taken from between two buildings on Capitoline Hill. It shows the length of the Roman Forum running east and the Arch of Titus is seen at the far end.
Roman Forum
This photo was taken from Palantine Hill and shows the eastern half of the Roman Forum running horizontally.
Roman Forum
My friend poses for a photo on Palantine Hill with the Roman Forum in the background.
Roman Forum
I joined her for this photo on Capitoline Hill.

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