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Fori Imperiali
 

:
The Forum Area
Temple of Peace (Forum of Vespasian)

71 A.D. – Vespasian has the Forum constructed
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 Urbis Romae;
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 masterpieces.
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.

Functions
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 magistrate's acts.
Nevertheless, we cannot exclude the civil utilization of the Forum, which can be clarified by further intervention in the archeological excavation.

Historical Context
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 Nicomaco.

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 blocks.
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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