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What was the Forum of Augustus?
Posted In: Ancient Civilizations  6/24/12
By: Yona Williams

The first emperor of the Roman Empire, Augustus, is responsible for building the Forum of Augustus, which was known as one of the Imperial forums in Rome. Not only did the structure serve as a place of honor, but it also was used to store the treasures that came from their battles. In this article, you will learn more about the history and significance of this site.

During the battle of Philippi in 42 BC, Octavian vowed to build a temple honoring Mars, who was the Roman god of war. When the fighting was done and he came away victorious, he had become the first emperor of Rome in 27 BC – taking the name Augustus. He soon made plans for a temple to be constructed in a new forum that would be named after himself.

Construction for the Forum did not take place until around 20 BC. This was the time when Augustus avenged Rome once again and he was in negotiations for the release of what had been lost to the Parthians. Augustus had already owned the land that the Forum was planned to be built on. During the process, he faced various land issues and several architectural pitfalls that prolonged construction. In 2 BC, the forum was still incomplete (40 years after Augustus said it would be built), but the temple was inaugurated despite this fact.

Inscriptions found at the Forum paint a picture to as some of the events that took place. It stood as a place for educational events and cultural gatherings. The Forum was built to house a temple that honored Mars, while another space was used for legal proceedings since the Roman Forum was crowded.

Commencement ceremonies were held at the Temple of Mars before military generals went off into battle. Other ceremonies held at the Forum included the assumption of the toga virilis – an event that involved young men. To discuss topics of war, the Senate gathered at the Temple. At the altar of the Mars temple, generals who claimed victory would dedicate their spoils there. The Forum was also a place where weapons and stolen goods from their enemies were stored.

The last notice of the forum was given in 395, but an earthquake or damage during wartime could have seriously hindered the use of the structure. Eventually, a lot of great buildings started to disappear and the original name of structures began to fade. The Forum of Augustus was one of the first respected buildings of Rome to fall victim to this trend. Sometime during the 9th century, the ruined temple had been replaced by a Basilian monastery.

The Forum was also known for the impressive collection of statues on the grounds. Examples of standouts include statues of Augustus in full military outfit (which was located at the center of the Forum), Mars, Venus, men in the Julian-Claudian family, and an ivory depiction of Athena.


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