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Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Gift of Emperor Trajan

Trajan's Forum; Beauty in the Heart of Rome

   Located across the via (common Latin term for "road" or "way", as in Via Appia) from the Primary Roman Forum, Emperor Marcus Ulpius Traianus, or Trajan, as an English-speaker would call him, developed this incredible work for the people of Rome during the turn of the second century CE.  As will be mentioned in a later post, the Forum Romanum was not only the epicenter of Rome the city, but Rome the empire.  Within the walls of this open space laid various temples, market places, and the Senate house.  However, by the time of Trajan, this forum had become much too overcrowded.  This problem had been solved before by emperors like Caesar, Nerva, and Augustus, but never on such a magnificent scale and never with such a significant attempt to make its patron immortal.
   In order to construct a forum, placed conveniently within a minute's walking distance from the original Forum, Trajan chose the greatest architect of the time, Apollodorus of Damascus.  The foundation was first laid in 107 CE by demolishing an entire hill.  The forum is then divided into two separate sections: a piazza (which simply refers to an open market or public square) and a basilica.  Contrary to common thought, a basilica wasn't a church.  Instead, this was a governmental building, similar to a court.  What personally makes this forum unforgettable is the "multi-level market" (stoa.org) in the piazza, among well paved roads that allowed for a major development in the economy and trade.  This was the first "shopping center" to ever have been built.  Thanks to the genius of Apollodorus and the piggy bank of Trajan, this new forum proved to be among the most magnificent ever created.  Even though this was a work for the people, it becomes clear that this emperor wanted to earn a reward from his charity.  As any great and ambitious leader, he wanted to be remembered.  In order to become unforgettable, he built a magnificent column in the center of Rome, within the forum, for all to see.

http://www.roman-empire.net/tours/rome/forum-romanum.html
http://www.stoa.org/trajan/introductory_essay.html#emperor

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