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The Urban Legacy of Ancient Rome Photographs from the Ernest Nash Fototeca Unione Collection



According to tradition, Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome, made a gift to the Pontifex Maximus of his royal abode, the Regia, which stood beside the Sacra Via. During the republic, and until the time of the emperors, the building remained the official headquarters of the Pontifex Maximus. It was orientated east-west, as were the pre-Neronian Atrium Vestae (q. v.) and the Domus Publica (q. v.). The Regia was destroyed by fire in 148 B.C., restored, and then burnt again. In 36 B.C., Cn. Domitius Calvinus replaced it with a new building of marble, of which some fragments of architectural decoration are preserved. Excavations began in the last quarter of the 19th century, and were completed in 1898/99. The eastern edge of the pronaos was found, during excavations of the Fornix Fabianus (q. v.), in July 1953 (s. plan, Arcus Augusti I, 94).

Regia, aerial view
Regia, as viewed from the west
Regia, door featuring marble thresholds on the eastern side between the covered edifice and the pronaos
Regia, northeast corner of the pronaos during the excavations of July 1953
Regia, corner of the entablature. The obtuse angle corresponds with the trapezoidal form of the pronaos
Regia, northern side featuring travertine steps and open-air room, as viewed from the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina

Romulus, Divus, Templum

[Also known as: Temple of Divine Romulus]

On the basis of Maxentian coins, which show a circular temple, and of mediaeval sources, the rotunda, which stands beside the Sacra Via, between the Temple of Faustina and the Basilica of Constantine, has been accepted as the Temple of Divus Romulus, which Maxentius built in memory of his son, M. Valerius Romulus, who died in 309 A.D. A fragment of an inscription bearing the name of Constantine (CIL VI, 1147), was seen above the doorway until the 16th century. Neither the very divergent evidence of the coins, nor the mediaeval literature, (in which the title "Templum Romuli" was used indiscriminately for the Temple of Venus and Roma and for the Basilica of Constantine), furnish conclusive proof for the identification of this building. It was used as a vestibule between the Forum and the Church of SS. Cosma e Damiano, which was built into the library of the Forum Pacis under Felix IV (526-530). Soon after 1750, Benedict XIV had the eastern of the two apsed side-halls, which adjoined the rotunda, converted into the Oratorio della Via Crucis; it was destroyed during the excavations of the Sacra Via in 1877/79, when everything was removed except the ancient walls.

Temple of Romulus, with the church of Ss. Cosma e Damiano
Temple of Romulus, façade featuring the ancient gate, removed during the time of Pope Urban VIII and returned to its original position in 1879
Temple of Romulus, right leaf of the ancient bronze door
Temple of Romulus, the door lock
Temple of Romulus, with the church of Ss. Cosma e Damiano


The orator's platform of the Roman Republic lay between the Comitium and the Forum Romanum. It took the name "Rostra" from the beaks of the ships, captured from the people of Antium, with which the side facing the Forum was decorated by the consul C. Maenius, in 338 B.C. Part of the excavated remains of the republican Rostra, to the east of the Lapis Niger, dates from the time of Maenius, who presumably built the first stone platform, while the part with a curved front and steps belongs to a later building of the time of Sulla. The Rostra was destroyed, when Caesar replanned the Forum, and its foundations disappeared under the raised pavement of the new Comitium. The building of a new Rostra, on the west side of the Forum, was started by Caesar and completed by Augustus (s. Rostra Augusti).

Rostra Augusti, view of the excavations of 1956
Rostra Augusti, side facing the Forum, featuring a tufa wall in opus quadratum
Rostra Augusti, side facing the Forum, featuring a tufa wall in opus quadratum, as viewed from the southwest
Rostra Augusti, eastern side of the stairs
Rostra Augusti, back (eastern) side

Rostra Augusti

The orator's platform was moved from the Comitium to the north-west side of the Forum, in the course of Julius Caesar's replanning of the Forum, which coincided with the building of a new Curia, while the Comitium was reduced in size and raised to a higher level. Caesar's structure, which had approximately the same measurements as the Rostra Augusti, was completed at the beginning of 44 B.C. At the festival of the Lupercalia on the 15th February, statues of Caesar and Pompey and an equestrian statue of Sulla already stood upon it. The Rostra consisted of two parts; the western, a concrete core faced with a straight brick wall on the east side, forming a stepped access to the platform. The eastern part consisted of the front wall, decorated with the beaks of ships, and the side-walls, all of opus quadratum; two rows of piers in the interior supported the platform. The straight corridor which lay between the two parts was broadened at its north side, probably when the Arch of Septimius Severus was built, by cutting out a segment of the concrete core of the western part; the remaining curved wall (Hemicyclium) was faced with slabs of Portasanta marble. The remains of the Rostra were discovered when a road was built across the Forum in 1831/34 connecting Via Bonella with Via della Consolazione. The monument was then recognized as the Rostra, but it could only be properly excavated and examined after the road, which had been built on top of it, was removed in 1882.

Roman Forum, Column of Phocas and the Curia Julia
Rostra Augusti
Rostra Augusti, the north end of the front of the Rostra
Rostra Augusti, southeast side
Rostra Augusti, the north side of the corridor under the Rostra, the bricks of the pavement bear stamps of the time of Caracalla
Rostra Augusti, flooring between the Hemicycle and the Rostra, as viewed from the north with traces of the impluvium
Rostra Augusti, the south side of the corridor
Rostra Augusti, outer surface of the hemicycle, clad in Portasanta marble
Rostra Augusti, northern extremity featuring the "Rostra Vandalica"
Rostra Augusti, traces of an earlier straight flight of steps, behind, the curved steps that correspond to the hemicycle
Rostra Augusti, northern side
Rostra Augusti, outer surface of the hemicycle, clad in Portasanta marble, as viewed from the southeast
Rostra Augusti, hemicycle staircase