|The Forum Area
Temple of Peace (Forum of
71 A.D. Vespasian has the Forum
75 A.D. Dedication of the Forum
192 A.D. Devastating fire under emperor Commodus
205-208 A.D. Years of realization of the Forma Urbis
208-211 A.D. Setimius Severus renovates the Forum and exhibits the Forma
V century A.D. Another fire and the Forum abandoned
526-530 the southern angle of the Forum is transformed into the Church of
Saints Cosmos and Damian
1903: in the Campidoglio the Forma Urbis is displayed for the first time on
a graphic sketch by R. Lanciani
The Imperial Forum Complex was ideally closed
toward the south-east by the Temple of Peace, dedicated to Vespasian, and initially
destined to contain the spoils of the Judaic wars as well as some Grecian art
The fact that this structure is not mentioned as having a civil function has withheld it
from being classified as a true Forum. Therefore the structure was simply identified as
the Templum Pacis until the late Empire.
In fact at the far end of the Forum, a temple opened up to the Velia hills, but it was
destroyed in the 30's to construct Via Dell'Impero on which the IV century Basilica of
Maxentius was also erected.
The temple was constructed by a large apsidal hall that opened up like an exedra at the
bottom of the portico. A worship statue was kept in the apse.
A row of columns distinguished the portico from the temple. A large fragment in African
marble from one of these columns is still visible in the garden bed in front of the actual
entrance to the Roman Forum.
Finally, in 211 A.D., a topographical map of Rome (Forma Urbis) incised in marble
was arranged on one of the large portico exedras. In the interior of the Forum, there was
also a library with a planimetry similar to one by Adrian of Athens. Here, many works of
art were located, of which Elder Pliny recalls those stolen by Nero for the Domus Aurea.
The works, originally from Greece and Asia Minor, were returned to the possession of the
citizens by Vespasian.
The construction scheme and almost 'museum' quality of the Forum lead to believe that it
was used as a refined seat of delegation with precise cultural connotations- the eventual
function of the Forum of Trajan.
Other notable similarities to the Forum of Trajan were the location of the apsidal piazza
at the bottom of the Portico and the worship statue located in the apse. This likeliness
suggests that their was an anticipated mutation of the Forum structures- Vespasian's
project as the basis and Trajan affirming the image of absolute power by the emperor. The
presence of the Library connected to the temple recalls the Principia system- forum
piazzas inside military camps in which the libraries were designated to contain the
Nevertheless, we cannot exclude the civil utilization of the Forum, which can be clarified
by further intervention in the archeological excavation.
The theme proposed by Vespasian for his Forum was that of pacification derived from
wartime victories. In order to truly express the Temple of Peace, the Pax was the symbol
of the complex itself.
Naturally, the architectural decoration and entire figuration of the Forum was connected
to the concept of universal peace. This is demonstrated by the display of spoils from the
Judaic wars which is not only a sign of conquest, but also one of desire to continue peace
between the two populations.
The works of art that Nero wanted to keep for himself were returned to the public by
Vespasian as an internal sign of peace. It was also a sign of invitation to share with the
Emperor the appreciation of Greek art which included masterpieces by; the Galati group
from Pergamo, the Ganimede of Leochares, statues by Fidia and Policleto, and paintings by
Severian Forma Urbis
The most important nucleus of the Forum's remains is still in the southern angle of the
site, next to the Basilica of Maxentius.
This area of the Forum was preserved from destruction because it became integrated into
the church of Saints Cosmos and Damian. Proving this were two legible traces found in the
two halls at the right of the Temple. In the first hall is the south-west wall 18 meters
in height where a series of holes are arranged that held the incised marble slabs of the
Roman map (Forma Urbis). This was registered in the documented archives of the
Prefecture located in the Forum of Septimius Severes of 211.
The slab fragments- a total of 151 divided into 11 rows, were first recovered in 1562.
They are presently preserved in the Museum of Roman Civilization while waiting to be
reassembled in a more appropriate setting.
Although a small part of the Forma Urbis is conserved, it is still the most
important document giving us knowledge of antique Rome's topography.
A Forum that isn't there
The most preserved sections of the Forum is today integrated into two monuments: the Torre
dei Conti- at the beginning of Via Cavour, where there is still a square piece of the
Forum visible in one of the portico's exedras the base of the tower; and the Church of
Saints Cosmos and Damian, erected from 526-530 above the southern angle of the Forum,
inside the hall behind the Forma Urbis.
The site was probably divided into two spaces: the space behind the wall with the Forma
Urbis, has been identified as the Library, as demonstrated from excavated niches that
were used for books just like the ones in the Forum of Trajan's library; the other is a
space of apse origin against the so-called Temple of Romulus in the Roman Forum. Here you
can still see the external wall at the door of access, composed of peperino and travertine
The Temple of Peace's destiny brings to mind the law of Dantesque retaliation. In fact, at
the moment of its construction, the forum complex lead to the destruction or integration
of republican memories such as the Forum of Piscarium and the Macellum- the large Subura
market. Even today, the Temple of Peace is overwhelmed by posterior constructions while
only a modest portion can be seen of the other Forums.
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