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What was the Forum of Caesar?

By Yona Williams    6/25/12

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Julius Caesar was an infamous ancient Roman general and statesman, who had many building dedicated in his honor over the years. However, Caesar is responsible for constructing the Forum of Caesar in 46 BC, which was located close to the Forum Romanum in Rome. In this article, you will learn more about the construction and significance of this ancient Roman building.

When Caesar decided to build a forum that would bear his name, he bought parcels of land in the region that were quite costly. Construction of the forum started in the northeast section of the Forum Romanum in 54 BC. The dedication went to Caesar and his deeds in 46 BC when it was finally completed. When the dedication took place, elaborate games were held – with Caesar footing the bill. Caesar truly invested a lot of time, energy and money into the project.

Originally, the Forum of Caesar was meant to become an expansion of the Forum Romanum. However, as time passed, the intentions for the Forum morphed to include a gathering place for public business related to the Senate, as well as a shrine to Caesar. Before Caesar was assassinated, the Senate met with him at his temple. The Senate was not pleased with this move. The Forum of Caesar was also seen as affecting the Curia, which he started to reconstruct in 44 BC. With these construction plans, the Forum of Caesar became much closer to the Curia. The proximity of the Senate house to the Forum was a symbol of the unity Caesar felt between him and the Senate.

In front of the temple, Caesar placed a statue of his favorite horse. When he was assassinated, a statue of Caesar riding this horse was added to the décor.

The Temple of Venus Genetrix found in the Forum is home to a significant collection of artwork, including statues, paintings and engravings. For example, there was a statue of Cleopatra VII that was made out of gold, which jumpstarted a trend in having statues to dedicate notable women. A painting of Medea (the mythological Greek hero of Euripides' play of the same name), as well as one of Ajax (mythological Greek hero of Sophocles' in a play of the same name) is found in the forum. The Forum also housed six collections of engraved gems that Caesar owned. Interestingly, no one knows how the senator came into possession of the collections.

It is not clear why a reconstruction took place, but following the rule of Caesar and Augustus, the Forum underwent a complete makeover – at the request of Roman Emperor Domitian. And then a devastating fire took over the city in 80 AD and it affected the Forum Romanum. Rebuilding the Forum of Caesar did not take place until 96 AD. After this reconstruction, not many senatorial activities took place at the Forum.

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