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THE ROMAN FORUM
A TOPOGRAPHICAL STUDY
FRANCIS MORGAN NICHOLS M.A. F.S.A.
FORMERLY FELLOW OF WADHAM COLLEGE OXFORD
LONDON. LONGMANS AND CO.
[The right of translation is reserved.]
PRINTED BY J. B. NICHOLS AND SONS,
25, PARLIAMENT STREET.
Ors ap 13 6,5
redlarred August 26,192687
Vielleicht kömmt einst eine glückliche Zeit, welche den tief unter Schutt und Erde liegenden alten Boden offen gelegt sieht, und daraus mit Leichtigkeit und Sicherheit Resultate ziehen kann, die sich jetzt nur mühsam und vermuthungsweise aus den Nachrichten der Schriftsteller gewinnen lassen. Becker, Handbuch der Römischen Alterthümer. Theil. i. p. 216.
The surpassing interest of the topography of Ancient Rome is derived from its connection with the history of the dominant nation of the world. It follows as a consequence that this interest has its principal seat in the place which was the centre of the public life of the Roman people. A host of stirring associations, such as belong in our own history to many different localities, gathered around the Roman Forum. There the Senate sate in its Curia, the people met in their Comitia. There laws were passed which reformed the constitution of the sovereign state, decrees were made which determined the fate of subject populations. The judicial business of an empire was there transacted; statesmen were attainted, and civil causes involving the fortune of a Crassus were determined; while at another tribunal the police of a great city was conducted and ordinary criminals sentenced and punished. The state prison and the place of public execution were close at hand. The same area which was the Westminster Hall, the Old Bailey, and the Tower Hill, was also the Lombard Street and the Exchange of Rome. The most important financial transactions of the world were there arranged; loans were contracted by which armies were to be raised, provinces to be bought, kingdoms to be conquered, or the liberty of the Republic itself to be overthrown. The great religious festivals of Rome were celebrated in the same area, which was overlooked by the principal temples of the national deities; and the popular spectacles, which in imperial times filled the great amphitheatre, had their earlier home in the Roman Forum.
It is the province of topography to enable the student to conceive more vividly and accurately the events of history and the life of a bygone age, by associating them with their actual localities, and with such remains of ancient monuments as Time may have spared. The identification of historical sites is the first business of the topographer; but this mere identification presents a task of no slight difficulty where the remains of antiquity are few and indistinct, and the whole configuration of the ground has been altered in the course of ages. Ancient Rome lies buried at various depths below the surface of the modern city, and the archaeologists of the last three centuries have been disputing over topographical problems which could only be finally solved with the aid of ruder tools than those with which they laboured.
Within the last few years the shovel and pickaxe have been busy, and a large part of the ancient