Scientifically accurate, three-dimensional digital representations of historical environments allow architectural historians to explore viewsheds, movement, sequencing, and other factors. Using real-time interactive simulations of the Roman Forum during the mid-Republic and the early third century CE, Diane Favro and Christopher Johanson examine the visual and sequential interrelationships among audience, actors, and monuments during funeral rituals. Death in Motion: Funeral Processions in the Roman Forum presents a hypothetical reconstruction of the funeral of the Cornelii family in the early second century BCE and argues that the conventional understanding of the staging of the funeral oration may be incorrect. It then reviews the imperial funerals of the emperors Pertinax and Septimius Severus to compare the ways that later building in the Roman Forum altered the ritual experience, controlled participant motion, and compelled the audience to submit to an imperial program of viewing.
The calendars of republican and imperial Rome were overflowing with a plethora of religious and state events, many of which were marked by animated parades that wound through the city. Interspersed among these were melancholy processions that carried the deceased from home to a final resting place outside the walls of the capital. For members of the elite, the route and activities of the Roman funeral offered a valuable opportunity to display and increase their symbolic importance.1 Previous studies have considered the long history of funerals in antiquity, commemorative activities such as the burning of the pyre outside the city limits, or specific features such as the carrying of death masks.2 Few have contextualized the funerary procession (pompa funebris) with specific spaces or in relation to the intricately constructed Roman experience of a funeral.3 Rome's most illustrious and ambitious citizens choreographed their funerals with memorable activities in the Forum Romanum, yet the effect of this symbol-laden public venue on the honorific imperial funeral parades and activities has not been critically evaluated.4
Three funeral parades will be analyzed and illustrated contextually using interactive, immersive digital models of the Forum Romanum that have been specifically designed to represent spatial and urban relationships.5 The examples, one from the mid-Republic and two from the imperial period, demonstrate changes in the interplay between Roman funerary practices and a specific urban space and provide a platform for the use of phenomenological analysis. This research lays the groundwork for a comparison of the use and manipulation of architecture and imagery in the Republic and Empire.
The experiential aspects of any event in the forum require an understanding of that entire space as well as of those parts of the surrounding cityscape that are connected visually and aurally to the forum. With only fragmentary physical remains, the forum has rarely been reconstructed in toto as it existed in any specific period, although there are generalized reconstructions representing entire eras (e.g., the republican forum) and simplified representations devoid of texture, color, artwork, people, and other rich sensory-stimulating features.6 The late imperial forum has most frequently been reconstructed because the archaeological remains from this era are the best preserved.
In general, scholars have avoided making either pictorial or three-dimensional physical reconstructions of the forum as an urban space, for obvious reasons. The scientific recreation of larger scale environments is extremely time consuming, requiring extensive research, which detracts from a scholar's focus on particular issues.7 In addition, there are disciplinary deterrents. The fashioning of an entire urban space requires hypotheses and assumptions about many unknown aspects, including the upper floors of buildings, the placement and scale of art, colors, textures, and ephemera (such as plantings, scaffolding, and banners). Too often reconstruction images or models do not make variations in level of accuracy visible. Such indeterminacy, no matter how well reasoned, is unpalatable to many scholars, but especially to archaeologists, who are trained to appreciate accuracy, not speculation.8
The close experiential reading of historic processions such as the Roman funeral has also been hampered by the scarcity of specific details of these events. Only a few imperial funerals are described at length by ancient authors; even fewer by contemporary eyewitnesses. Furthermore, these accounts by male elite voices generally serve specific agendas and often use the description of a funeral for calculated effect.9 Few detail the setting of the funeral or mention the sensorial impact of the sights, sounds, and smells of the emotionally and politically charged event, perhaps because they considered such perceptual information too obvious to merit comment. The same familiarity may explain the relative silence about funeral activities.10 Depictions of ancient processions in art tend to focus on the participants and offer only limited representation of the physical context, which would inform an assessment of the experiential impact. Graham Zanker has perceptively noted that the omission of architectural environments in ancient art provoked viewers to complete the picture in their minds, an act of supplementation that engaged ancient observers, but frustrates modern historians (Figure 1).11
The situation is exacerbated for the Forum Romanum. The geographical touchstone of the Roman world, this urban space was well known; throughout the vast empire, Romans constructed complex mental pictures of this site, which were informed by references in texts, depictions of individual buildings, word of mouth, and actual visits.12 Given this collective familiarity, it is not surprising that the forum was rarely represented holistically in Roman art.
Two notable exceptions are the marble imperial reliefs known as the Anaglypha or Plutei Traiani/Hadriani, which were found in the forum in 1872.13 Although their exact placement and date are disputed, scholars agree that the scenes represent events occurring in the forum. On one an emperor (either Trajan or Hadrian) stands on the Rostra Augusti (speaker's platform) while giving a public address or adlocutio backed by six lictors (Figure 2); on the other an emperor seated on the opposing rostra oversees the burning of debt books (Anaglypha) (Figure 3).14 Behind the figures rise the Basilica Iulia and other buildings on the southwest side of the forum. Although the reliefs may not have been seen together in their original disposition, they show a continuous architectural setting. The myth-laden fig tree (Ficus Ruminalis) and the statue of Marsyas appear in both reliefs, affirming the coincidence of the setting; one depicts the area east of the statue and the other, the west.
The overall representation is quite revealing about the Romans' experience of public events in the forum. The carvings selectively mix accurately represented features (such as the blank segments that correspond to the streets that entered the forum) with inaccurate building orientations.15 All of the structures are seen frontally, regardless of their actual positioning. For example, in the Debt Burning relief, the Temples of Saturn, and of Divine Vespasian are shown side by side, though they actually stood at right angles (see Figure 3). Such an unrealistic arrangement was not solely a result of the pragmatic restrictions of the relief format, but owed also to Roman experiential interpretations that were filtered through cultural ideas of viewing and processing.16
Ancient texts and pictorial representations affirm that the Romans believed buildings of importance should be viewed frontally, ideally from an inferior position.17 Vitruvius specifically recommended that temples along "the sides of public roads should be arranged so that the passers-by can have a view of them and make their reverence in full view."18 Such hierarchical positioning was regularly employed to indicate the status of depicted individuals. In the Adlocutio relief, the emperor is elevated atop a speaker's platform; all figures look up to him both literally and metaphorically (see Figure 2). Action occurs below and leads the eye toward the emperor either by the directional movement of the figures or the turn of their heads. In the Debt Burning relief, soldiers carry the heavy account books toward the seated emperor atop the Rostra Augusti. The fire consuming the records is appropriately set before the Temple of Saturn, site of the state treasury, and at the feet of the seated emperor on the rostra. In reality, Saturn's temple stood farther west, at a higher elevation and behind the speaker's platform. In the Adlocutio relief the men forming the crowd lean slightly forward toward the emperor, their garments clearly identifying status: the toga for senators toward the front of the crowd, the paenula for poor citizens pushed to the rear (see Figure 2). Gestures clarify the action, with the standing emperor raising his arm in a familiar signal of address. Overall, the emphasized body language underscores the importance of visual cues in an open space where a speaker's words quickly wafted away.19
The reliefs also demonstrate the active role of statues whose location in the visual hierarchy is equal (or superior) to that of the human participants in forum events.20 In this case the artist selected, from among all the statues in the forum, a depiction of Marsyas, which was associated with libertas, and a group with Italia, her children, and the seated Trajan, which celebrated the alimentary program. The reliefs reinforce the closed topographical experience of the imperial Forum Romanum, which afforded limited views of the surrounding city, focusing inward on the two opposing rostra that defined the space and action.
Despite their usefulness in explicating the interaction between public events and the forum, the Plutei Traiani leave many questions about the experience of the events unanswered. How did accompanying sounds reinforce the activities? Did lighting and temperature affect the participants' comfort? Was color used to attract the eye? Did the smell of the burning books drive the audience away? Where did spectators stand? Were women and slaves allowed to watch? What route to the forum was taken by participants?
Unfortunately, the established methodological apparatus for analyzing the symbiotic exchange between kinetic ceremonies and urban form is not especially useful for ancient specialists. Modern anthropological and urban analyses are usually based on first-person documentation, interviews, and cognitive mapping; such approaches are not applicable to periods when voices are few and primarily of the elite. Techniques developed to convey kinetic progression, such as the serial views and cognitive maps popular with urban planners in the 1960s, have rarely been included in the architectural historian's toolbox.21
During subsequent decades, the popularity of reception theory led to increased interest in the "gaze." In Roman studies, a number of publications dealt with viewing in situ. Most considered intervisuality in elite artworks and environments, usually the Roman house.22 A few employed semiotic ideas to consider the experiences of urban buildings as linked together to form narratives.23 While some authors explored kinetic viewing, the majority emphasized what could be seen from fixed positions, a preference that minimized the impact of peripheral viewing and the full-bodied, synergistic interplay of all the senses.24 Beyond sight, sensorial analyses of Roman environments have been few.25
In part, the available representational tools have been deterministic. Sketches, measured drawings, and physical models have for decades been the primary instruments for making reconstructions of historic environments, yet these can be costly and require skills not developed by scholars. Furthermore, the necessity to present scholarship in text-based publications has favored simplified, static visual representations, which are in many ways antithetical to the experience of events such as ritual processions. In the formulation of research, as well as its publication, lively parades with fluttering banners, cacophonous sounds, and animated dancers are distilled into static lines on two-dimensional plans (Figure 4).26 Such depictions disguise the realities of topography, three-dimensional sequencing, temporal changes, and the ease (or difficulty) of movement, among other factors, while emphasizing particular aspects (sequencing), experiences (static viewing), and approaches (semiotics). Verbal or cinematic attempts to recreate the experience of moving through a historic city can be evocative, but are often devalued by the scholarly community as too fanciful or entertaining.
Today researchers interested in the experiential aspects of the ancient funeral——its sights, movement, sounds, and smells——have more data, improved tools, and advanced methods with which to work. New technologies and approaches to "knowledge representation," a term borrowed from the sciences, facilitate the reconsideration of historic events that were situated within sensorially rich, kinetically experienced environments. Digital recreations visually and experientially aggregate current knowledge about the environment. Digital technologies have made possible the fashioning of more dynamic and flexible depictions of ancient spaces for use in research, teaching, and presentation, all readily linked to metadata that documents the level of accuracy of restored components.27 Scholars can now reconstruct historic environments that allow observers to move in real time through carefully constructed topographic contexts. A rich range of sensorial stimuli can be added to kinetic viewing to shape more robust recreations of the original environmental experience. Depictions of actual times of day, year, and century reaffirm the essential temporal aspects——the fourth dimension. Various experimental scenarios can be presented to ascertain the impact of alternative reconstructions, climatic conditions, and hypothetically distributed ephemera.28
Every sensorial layer requires a method of citation and analysis, and a large measure of scholarly caution. How can it be proved that ancients experienced light in the same way as moderns? How does one add scholarly rigor to the simulation of smell or sound? Various sensorial additions to a simulation can detract if they are included as an afterthought, even if an illustrative one.
Roman environments have been among the first to be extensively recreated digitally. The attraction reflects awareness of the experiential richness of Roman design. Not surprisingly extensively designed rooms, such as those preserved at Pompeii, are cited as early immersive "simulations."29 Given the ancient evidence and the current technological toolset, Roman spatiality offers the greatest opportunity for serious scholarly investigation.
The Mid-Republican Funeral Procession (183 BCE––145 BCE)
Ancient accounts of funerals during the mid-Republic describe the movement of the aristocratic pompa funebris through the city to the Forum Romanum. Unfortunately, specifics about the route are few.30 There is no description of the parade path before it arrived in the forum, and the purpose of the procession can only be speculated. It would seem that it functioned both as a means of gathering the participants, who would later crowd the forum during the funeral oration, and as a way of displaying the popularity of the deceased and the family.31 Hence, the more circuitous the route, the better the attendance for the event, an important factor at least during the Republic when funerals had to vie for attention from citizens who continued to conduct their daily business in the forum.32 The reality of housing distribution in Rome further complicated matters. The aristocracy lived along the streets that led into the forum (including the Sacra Via) and on the nearby Palatine Hill.33 Therefore, most aristocratic funerals began only a few hundred meters away from the forum itself. In order to lengthen the parade route and attract a larger audience, processions from residences near the forum may have diverted to side streets to extend the route to the forum (Figure 5).34
Parades most likely entered along the Sacra Via in the mid-republican period, a symbolically potent route followed in numerous ritual processions, including the triumphal parade, which was an event that the funeral procession mimicked in many ways.35 Upon entering the forum, the pompa funebris crossed the central open plaza to the rostra, where the deceased was put on display (Figure 6).36 From atop the rostra the primary heir gave a eulogy, flanked by members of the cortege who wore ancestor masks (imagines) and sat in a row of ivory chairs that faced the assembled crowd. Scholars have underlined the obvious potential for symbolic manipulation in the content of the speech (laudatio funebris), the ancestor masks, and the composition of the crowd.37 Less analyzed, but equally significant, are the sights, kinetic sequences, and interaction with the physical environment experienced by the funeral parade.
Physical and textual evidence demonstrate that the forum during the mid-republican period was radically different in appearance than its imperial descendants.38 Sadly, there is a severe lack of robust archaeological data about the buildings in the forum during the first half of the second century BCE. In situ evidence for the third (vertical) dimension is particularly difficult to find. Today's researchers can bring into play additional information, including high-resolution satellite imagery, citywide cadastral maps, and GPS coordinates that precisely situate verifiable archaeological remains within a geographic coordinate system, yet they still lack sufficient data to create academically justifiable hyperrealistic reconstructions.39
In most cases, only the general massing of buildings and architectural monuments can be modeled with any certainty. For this research the models are schematic, shaded for legibility, but necessarily textureless.40 They are knowledge representations of the current evidence——more often textual than material——and can approximate only one of many interpretations of the mid-republican forum's appearance.41 Strict care must be taken to map out the parameters for each exploration and to explain its experimental nature (Figure 7).42 Within these working parameters, however, valuable investigations can be undertaken about the experiential and propagandistic impact of the funeral on the processors and audience members, and in particular the importance of the critical intervisibility between buildings in and near the Forum Romanum.
The multilayered visual effects of the parade route require three-dimensional analysis, but an in situ examination of the viewshed and relationship between the Capitoline Hill and the republican forum is impossible due to present-day conditions. The current paving in the modern archaeological park lies 2 to 4 meters above the republican forum floor. Major buildings from the mid-Republic period are represented by scattered fragments often immured or obliterated by subsequent rebuildings.43 The republican remains of the great temple to Jupiter atop the Capitoline are today encased within the Palazzo dei Conservatori, its visual connection to the forum blocked by post-antique construction.
Experiential understanding has been further compromised by the inaccurate siting of buildings on published plans. For example, no readily available plans use a unifying geographic coordinate system to demonstrate and validate the precise location of the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus in relation to the buildings of the mid-republican forum. Three-dimensional paper-based reconstructions, hampered by modern in situ viewshed difficulties, only approximate the original visual relationship between Capitoline and forum; furthermore the majority of reconstructions depict the state of the forum in the imperial period and adopt an omniscient god's-eye view.44 The most accurate three-dimensional reconstructions represent the area during either its Augustan or late imperial phases, and even these frequently exaggerate the elevation information to such an extent that perceptions have been powerfully informed by the image of Jupiter's temple looming majestically over the city (Figure 8).45
Case Study 1: The Funerals of the Cornelii
The funerals of the mid-Republic (183––145 BCE) provide a useful case study of republican funerary practices.46 The Cornelii were a prominent aristocratic family of the middle republic, and the only clear evidence of the occasional alteration of the usual processional route is associated with this clan.47 To the traditional cortege path, which moved from the house of the deceased to the rostra in the forum and then to the burial site, the Cornelii added a visit to the Capitoline Hill to collect the wax mask (imago) of Scipio Africanus, the famed conqueror of Hannibal during the second Punic Wars and the most illustrious member of their family. They introduced this new itinerary after Scipio's death in 183 BCE.48
Roman aristocratic families usually housed such imagines of ancestors who had attained a curule magistracy in dedicated cupboards in the atria of their residences. Only on special occasions were these open for viewing, and only at the Roman funeral were the masks paraded through the streets.49 For reasons not entirely clear, the wax mask of Scipio Africanus was placed in the cella of the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, in effect equating the residence of the most powerful god in the Roman pantheon with the atrium of Scipio's house.50
The Cornelii followed other practices that differed from the norm. For instance, while the rest of Rome cremated their loved ones, the Cornelii continued to inhume the deceased.51 Perhaps the reason was pragmatic; the house of Scipio Africanus stood immediately next to the Roman forum behind the Tabernae Veteres, which meant that a funeral procession to the republican rostra (located directly to the northeast of the later Rostra Augusti) would have been a short walk of less than one hundred meters——not long enough to attract an appropriately large crowd (see Figure 5, Figure 9).52 The detour to the Capitoline Hill to acquire the important ancestral mask significantly lengthened the parade. Simultaneously, it emphasized a sequence of vistas to notable buildings, art, and urban features that were seen by parade participants and a reciprocal sequence of views of the funeral parade by the audience gathered in the forum. Although it is problematic to build an argument about the Roman funeral of the middle Republic based on a famous exception, a visual analysis of the alteration of the Cornelii's processional route offers a potential key to understanding the choreography of this mid-second-century event. The case study places the evidence for the funeral into the reconstructed topographic context of 183––145 BCE (Figure 10).
After the imago of Scipio Africanus was placed in the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, funeral processions for the Cornelii clan began at the house of the deceased family member, moved through the forum, and then turned away from the gathering crowd to ascend the Clivus Capitolinus (Figure 10a).53 Once the cortege moved past the Temple of Saturn, visual contact with spectators in the low-lying forum plaza was severed. How the imago was collected from the temple has not been recorded, but presumably the event occurred atop the Capitoline Hill before the south-facing Temple of Jupiter, where an actor wearing triumphal regalia donned the mask (Figure 10b). The action would have been visible from the aristocratic houses on the northwestern Palatine for those with an unobstructed view and good eyesight, yet most of the nobility would have already joined the awaiting audience in the low-lying forum.54 Some curious spectators may have followed the musicians, mimes, and dancers as they proceeded up the hill to the Capitoline temple, but the Clivus Capitolinus, and even the much larger platform on the hill above, offered only limited room to turn a large procession. Doubtless, most spectators preferred to secure good viewing spots for the oration in the forum. How did the Cornelii connect this unique segment of their family funeral with the more traditional program of the republican funeral? To what degree were the symbolic connections between the funerary activities at the rostra and those on the Capitoline magnified by spectacle?
Digital reconstructions facilitate the experiential examination of the connections between the forum and the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus in this period (Figure 10c).55 Unfortunately, without information on sounds, smells, and haptic responses, the exploration remains vision-centered, an emphasis that must be constantly kept in mind. Static and kinetic viewsheds are predicated on the accurate depiction of an environment and of building massing in particular. In this instance, the height and footprint of the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus remain somewhat controversial. The dispute centers on whether the measurements given by Dionysius of Halicarnassus and confirmed by recent archaeological work can refer to the temple's podium, as asserted by Einar Gjerstad in the 1960s——a reconstruction that produces intercolumniations substantially larger than even those of the Pantheon——or to a platform on which a smaller structure rose, as championed more recently by John Stamper.56
The two reconstructions give notably different results when viewed virtually from the mid-second century BCE forum as reconstructed. With Gjerstad's version, whose dominating form is seen in most reconstructions, the temple pediment looms over the city, clearly visible to spectators standing at ground level in the eastern end of the forum (Figure 10d). From elsewhere in the forum, observers would have seen the entablature and roof of the temple, but caught only glimpses of its podium (Figure 10e). The fortunate ones who had staked out desirable positions near the rostra were well situated to see the bier and the actors wearing ancestor masks line up in front (see Figure 7). They could readily hear the eulogies and see other activities associated with the funeral, but except for those positioned directly in front of the rostra, the view to the faççade and area in front of Jupiter's distant temple was almost entirely occluded.
Stamper's reconstruction reduces the temple's overall size and profile, eliminating nearly all views of it from the ground level of the forum (Figure 10f). Viewsheds from more elevated positions would not have been much better. Observers who jockeyed successfully for viewing spots in the upper balconies (maeniana) above the shops in front of the Basilica Sempronia on the west side of the forum had good views of the rostra and the central open space, but not of the Capitoline (Figure 10g). Only those on the upper level of the shops fronting the Basilica Fulvia across the open space could readily see the Temple of Jupiter and, at a lower level, the Cornelii funeral parade as it re-entered the forum (Figure 10h). Furthermore, in a culture where seeing and being seen were both important, most of these spectators would not have been visible to those clustering around the rostra.57 Curiously enough, in the two reconstructions only the Comitium, the natural cavea to the northwest of the rostra, affords clear views of the Temple of Jupiter (Figure 10i).
Clearly, an understanding of the Roman funeral necessitates knowledge of the context of the event. Just as there are alternative reconstructions of the built environment, there are likewise alternative reconstructions of the performance, including most importantly, the orientation of the primary speakers. One interpretation is based on the later funerary customs of Ciceronian Rome in the late first century BCE; the other is shaped by an appreciation of the oratorical practices of the mid-Republic over a century earlier. An assessment of the visual impact of the funeral parade of the Cornelii clarifies the differences between these two scenarios.
Alternative 1: Orators Face the People
Since their view was blocked by many of the surrounding buildings (Figure 11), the audience gathered in the forum would have gauged the approach of the Cornelii funeral procession down from the Capitoline by the smoke rising from torches and the sounds (Figure 11a). The accompanying music and chants became gradually louder, reaching a crescendo as the cortege rounded the Temple of Saturn at the lower terminus of the Clivus Capitolinus and burst into full view of the awaiting crowd (Audio).58 At this potent moment the sound level escalated, freed from the constraints of the narrow, building-lined street. (Of course, wind, weather, and ambient noise would have diminished this aural effect.) The elevated imago of Scipio Africanus was prominent, along with the ancestor masks of the deceased and other illustrious Cornelii. The procession stopped at the northwest corner of the forum and mounted the rostra where the body of the departed was displayed (Figure 11b). The jostling audience at ground level looked up to the famous ancestors represented by actors wearing death masks who were seated among the statues crowding the platform; behind them the Curia Hostilia formed a monumental backdrop.59 The ancestors, in turn, looked down on the majority of the audience——the inverse of the spatial arrangement in Greek oratory. Only the spectators on the upper floors of the basilicas could look down on the speakers, but their viewing status from a position on high was diminished by a lack of visual clarity due to distance (Figure 11c).60
As appropriate for Roman viewing conventions, the funeral participants on the rostra saw senators and other elite citizens positioned close by, identifiable by their garb and placement, an important factor since no clear physical boundary separated them from the masses on the forum floor. The son of the deceased, if there was one of suitable age, faced the forum and the crowd to give the laudatio and then praised, in chronological order, the ancestors arrayed behind him.61 After the speech the group descended from the rostra and, amid mourning wails, carried the deceased to his final resting place outside the city.62 Funerary games (ludi funebres and munera), most likely held in the forum followed, completed the ceremony.
Alternative 2: Orators Face the Senate
As recognized by modern scholars, the rostra became the oratorical stage for the forum in the late Republic. Only in 145 BCE did the orientation reverse when a tribune first turned his back on the Curia to address the people directly, a populist move meant both to appease the masses and annoy the magisterial classes.63 Thus the interpretation given in Alternative 1 is based on a retrojection from a later period. Prior to the mid-second century, orators faced the Comitium and the Curia, not the forum.64 The implications of this original, reversed staging have not been fully explored. Was the funerary laudatio originally configured in the same way?
The topography of the area facilitates a reconstruction with a Curia-centered oration. Until at least 184 BCE the Cloaca Maxima, which ran through the middle of the forum, was apparently uncovered.65 It would have formed a natural partition between the large eastern portion of the forum's central plaza and the western half, occupied by the political nucleus of the Curia, the Comitium, the senaculum, and the Graecostasis.66 The natural topography of the area formed a theatrical cavea centered on the rostra. The Comitium lies in a small depression surrounded by gentle upward slopes on all sides save the forum plaza.67 The Temple of Saturn offered a lengthy stepped approach that would have served as a convenient tiered viewing area. M. Porcius Cato's decision as censor to buy up land near the Curia to build the first named basilica in Rome (the Basilica Porcia) implies that this was a space that, among other things, would benefit from a public porticoed structure, that is, a shaded viewing area (Figure 11d).68 The masses would have gathered in the forum plaza and at the southwest end of the forum in front of the Temple of Saturn, but the elite would fill the Comitium, line its steps, and command the privileged views next to the seat of magisterial power, the Senate House (Figure 11e). The speaker would be elevated above many of the people, but the elite could demonstrate their own station by being in clear sight of the speaker and by forming the backdrop seen by the surrounding audience.
If political oratory required the speaker to face the Curia, one must contemplate the practical ramifications of this substantially different staging. While the famous beaks of the rostra pointed toward the forum, in which direction did the statues face? Imperial reliefs always depict the speaker and the statues facing the same way. It seems unlikely that the majority of political oratory in the mid-Republic would be framed by the backs of those commemorated in stone.69 What of the audience? A Curia-centered oration would have taken place in a relatively intimate setting. Because of the naturally sloped and stepped viewing area, the audience could both see and be seen more effectively. Many would be close enough to hear the speech clearly. Moreover, assembling in the western end of the forum would mitigate the interference caused by the open shops and the ongoing business surrounding the forum plaza (Figure 11f). Of course, for those farther removed from the rostra and who could not hear, gestures would still convey the meaning, although it would require a skilled orator to use gestures that even an audience facing his back could interpret.
The grouping of the spectators on the western side of the forum also alters the potential symbolic viewsheds, for in this location the speaker and the audience can share the same deictic references to the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus.70 As the procession of the Cornelii began to fill the Comitium and the surrounding space, a branch of the parade moved up the slope of the Clivus Capitolinus, in clear view of the majority of the more privileged spectators, those in the cavea to the west of the Comitium (Figure 11g). Such attendees were situated well for the upcoming laudatio and could also view the ceremony that was occurring on top of the Capitoline, in either the Gjerstad or Stamper reconstruction of the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus. Even many of those outside the Comitium would be able to witness the spectacle above. The value placed on such intervisuality explains why the Cornellii's revered ancestor Scipio Africanus was transported in such a way that he emerged from around the corner of the Temple of Saturn, thus clarifying the symbolic association. Even the uneducated (and the non-Latin speakers) would immediately understand that this relative of the Cornelii's clan had been communing with the most powerful god in the city. Perhaps it was in emulation of the Cornelii's bold symbolic association with the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus that the family of the novus homo, Marcus Porcius Cato, installed his imago in the Curia Hostilia, whence it was retrieved during funerary events.71 This familial competition would have been not only symbolic, but spectacular. Rather than remain hidden from the audience by the rostra, the imago of Cato would have emerged from the Curia in full view of the parting crowd and would have served as a reminder of this particularly admirable ancestor (Figure 11h).
Ancient sources note the exceptional funeral choreography of the Cornelii. Having two parades enter the forum certainly drew attention to the event and helped differentiate this funeral from others——a necessary goal given the number of distractions in the city of Rome. Experiential analysis facilitates a consideration of the link forged between the Capitoline and the forum by the procession. The effect of this visual connection, in turn, permits reevaluation of the textual evidence and reconsideration of the configuration of the event. By emphasizing movement from the forum up to the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, the program recalled the triumphal parade, an association reinforced by the garbing of the actor who wore the mask of Scipio Africanus in triumphal regalia. Yet the directional change of the procession, coming down from the hill rather than moving up to the temple, underscored another connection even more strongly. The famous conqueror of Hannibal was acknowledged by some Romans to be the son of Jupiter, and his funeral mask was thus kept in the "residence" of his progenitor. The parade route from Jupiter's temple to the forum suggested a direct connection between Scipio Africanus, his descendants, and the great god by highlighting a genetic and a spectacular topographic descent.72
The visual connection with the Temple of Jupiter was desirable, but not essential. As the most important shrine in the Roman world, its appearance was familiar to all spectators. They did not have to see the connection; the wisps of smoke, the echoes of processional music, and the entrance of the cortege from the direction of the temple were enough to forge the associations desired by the Cornelii. It is clear, however, that in one possible configuration most of the audience could have seen the event on the hill, and that an understanding of the visual impact of the Cornelii's procession helps to clarify the organization of the event below. The oratorical stage of the mid-Republic prior to 145 BCE was different than that of the first century, and the earlier configuration both better accommodates the evidence and better solves practical logistical problems.
The Imperial Funeral and the Roman Forum
In the imperial era, power was focused in the hands of single individuals, but republican traditions and governmental structures continued, at least superficially.73 Beginning with the commemorations of Augustus, funerals for the emperors became iconic, with grand events in the forum. The choreography still included a parade and eulogies from the rostra, but the ancestors who marched were largely stand-ins, not a collection of genetically related ancestors, but an assembly of famous persons from Rome's history. The body of the deceased, too, was often represented symbolically rather than actually included. The speeches, like the event in general, addressed a world audience, since the death marked a change in state leadership.74
Imperial funerals were characterized by their great size, magnificence, and especially by the inclusion of participants and features from throughout the empire.75 At the rostra the emperor's body (or its simulacrum) lay on display in a shrine-like structure recalling the baldachins of Eastern Hellenistic rulers. The pompa funebris began at the imperial residence on the Palatine, descended the Clivus Palatinus, then moved into the forum. While no exhaustive description of an imperial funeral exists, accounts written around 200 CE provide a number of visual details about the events in the Forum Romanum. In 193 CE the emperor Septimius Severus organized a lavish funeral in honor of his predecessor Pertinax and himself was honored by an extravagant event at his death in 211 CE. Cassius Dio gave an eyewitness account of the first; Herodian, who resided in Rome during this period, commented on the funeral of Septimius and others of his day.76
While funerals grew steadily larger, the physical space of the performance shrank significantly after the mid-Republic period. More permanent buildings and over-scale monuments crowded the Forum Romanum. The increased verticality of the surrounding buildings sealed off much of the forum from external visual influence. While views toward the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus had been difficult to gain during the mid-Republic, they were almost entirely blocked by the middle of the Empire (Figure 12). The arteries leading into the area were narrowed as the basilicas expanded on each side and arches spanning entire streets operated as doorways into the forum. The surrounding urban fabric also changed. To the east, the expanding imperial fora wiped out vast areas of housing. The large imperial palace system on the Palatine supplanted private aristocratic houses as the focus of power and the launching point for major funerals. As a result the route of a pompa funebris for an emperor became truncated. Well publicized, the deceased emperor, or rather, his imago, did not have to move through the city to attract spectators from their houses (most of which were now concentrated away from the city center). The crowds came to him in the forum.
By the middle of the second century, the forum had likewise become more restricted in activities and meaning. Although significant objects from the Republic remained visible, every building, sculpture, painting, space, and event was now imprinted with calculated imperial messages. The layout of the forum had also become more rigidly defined. The central forum was now smaller, its "walls," higher. The large, opposing Basilica Julia and Basilica Aemilia framed the two long sides. The central area was unified by sparkling paving, mostly of white marble, although the clarity of the spatial volume was obscured by numerous eye-catching commemoratives and statues.77
In relation to funeral activities, the most significant physical change to the forum was the alteration to the speaker's platform. At the end of the first century BCE Julius Caesar reworked the traditional locus of speechmaking and assembly near the Senate House. He summarily eliminated the republican rostra and began construction on a new speaker's platform, the so-called Rostra Caesaris, shifted to the west, directly on axis with the open space that was now more clearly defined by his large new Basilica Julia on the southwest.78 The new platform, enlarged and completed by Augustus (designated by scholars the Rostra Augusti), was the locus for many memorable events of those tumultuous years, including the funerals of Caesar and Augustus whose impact reverberated throughout subsequent state funerals.79 Caesar's funeral also inspired a major addition to the forum. After a riotous crowd burned the dictator's body in the forum rather than at the burial site outside the city limits, Augustus marked the spot with a magnificent new temple to the deified Caesar (Divus Iulius) directly opposite the rostra.80
Documentation of imperial funerals is more complete than for those of the mid-Republic. Much more is also known about the physical layout of the entire Forum Romanum in the later period. Better preserved and more thoroughly excavated, the archaeological evidence for the high Imperial period is far more extensive, and it is thus more easily reconstructed. At least partial remains of many buildings survive in situ, which facilitates modern surveys and substantially increases the fidelity of the reconstructed setting. The funerals of Pertinax and Septimius Severus offer a chance to explore how the topography of the forum affected and guided funerary activities.
Case Study 2: The Funeral of Pertinax
In 193 CE Septimius Severus became emperor following the bloody and short reigns of four predecessors, the last of whom was Pertinax. Hoping to signal an end to turmoil, he immediately affirmed his right to power by declaring his predecessor to be a god and accepting the name Pertinax as his own.81 To celebrate further his restoration of liberty and peace, the same year Severus held a lavish funeral honoring the previous emperor. At the head of the cortege were carried statues of the viri illustri, famous Romans of the past, confirming the continuity and stability of Rome; these themes were reinforced later in the parade by more statues of other historic figures who were admired for their great deeds or discoveries, and by representatives of the city's various collegia (associations). Along with male choruses singing funeral hymns processed subordinate officials, soldiers and bearers of heavy bronze statues whose regional costumes identified them as representations of Rome's provinces——symbols of the power and geographic extent of the Empire. Racehorses and a panoply of funeral gifts alluded to the elaborate games to follow. The procession climaxed with a portable golden altar bedecked with ivory and precious stones.
Notably, the actual remains of the deceased were not in the funeral parade. Pertinax, who had died months earlier and had been cremated, was represented by a wax effigy, dressed in triumphal regalia and placed on view in a small building with columns of gold and ivory erected atop a temporary stage in front of the rostra.82 To maintain the fiction of a traditional funeral with a corpse, and to displace the memory of Pertinax's bloody beheading, a slave boy waved a fan of peacock feathers as if to keep flies away from the decomposing body. The new emperor, now called Lucius Septimius Severus Pertinax, not the deceased's son, gave the funeral oration, confirming his role as heir.
A participant in these funerary ceremonies, Cassius Dio provided a detailed description. Septimius first moved across the forum to the speaker's platform (Figure 13). Behind him came Cassius Dio and other senators dressed in somber togas of mourning; their wives followed, having eschewed colorful garments for respectful white.83 Elite male attendees took seats in the open air near the Rostra Augusti, where they were visible to all; the women moved to less-exposed locations out of the sun in the shadowy porticos of the flanking basilicas.84 In solemn anticipation, the patrician audience awaited the procession. Hearing a muddled cacophony of sounds coming from the walled portion of the sacred road between the Basilica Aemilia and the Temple of Divus Iulius, all looked to the southwest. As the funeral parade passed the podium of the temple the sounds distilled into the distinctive dirges sung by the funerary chorus that accompanied the statues of viri illustres at the head of the pompa (see Figure 11b).85 From their elevated position, the sculpted representatives of Rome's history carried aloft in the procession looked directly toward the Temple of Concord, symbol of harmony among the classes, rising majestically behind the rostra (Figure 13a). As the procession extended into the sunlit open space, attention was drawn to the effigy of the deceased in his purple robes ensconced in a glittering golden shrine clearly visible above the heads of the seated senators. Behind this tableau rose the towering faççade of the Tabularium.86
Once the parade had passed the influential spectators, Severus mounted the rostra and gave the laudatio with the statues on the platform behind him bearing silent witness and the crowd shouting in approbation.87 The senators seated near the Rostra Augusti craned their necks upward, their field of vision filled by the gesticulating emperor, surrounding retinue, and statuary (Figure 13b). One can imagine that the laudatio included gestures toward the Temple of Concord, where Pertinax had first met the senate after being proclaimed emperor, or to the Temple of Jupiter, where the father of the gods would welcome the newest member of the Roman pantheon.88 At the end of the speeches the senators proceeded out of the forum toward the tomb. They marched ahead of the bier amid beating of breasts and cries of lamentation, with the emperor and the effigy of the deceased following.
Septimius used the funeral of Pertinax to validate his claim to the throne. Traditional and reverential in nature, the choreography reflected the continuation (or fossilization) of the established model for funerals, which emphasized the emperor as representative of the collective. In Pertinax's funeral, participants carried statues representing illustres viri from Rome's history, not the illustrious ancestors of the deceased. The staging reflected the realities of the imperial government, assigning the senators to a more symbolic and passive role than that played by their republican predecessors. They sat as spectators awaiting the action and responded on cue with moans and lamentations. A hint of their attitude is given in an aside by Cassius Dio about the eulogy by Septimius: "We shouted our approval many times in the course of his address, now praising and now lamenting Pertinax, but our shouts were loudest when he concluded."89 The forum provided a familiar, history-laden background for the action.
Once in power, Septimius Severus and his wife Julia Domna began to imprint their identity on the Forum Romanum.90 Among the sculpted monuments that they added was a large equestrian statue, the Equus Severi, which recalled the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius whom Septimius also claimed as his father.91 In the southern forum they repaired various structures ravaged by an earlier fire in 191/192 CE.92 Affirming her role as matrona and wife of the pontifex maximus, Julia Domna assumed responsibility for rebuilding the Temple of Vesta.93 At the opposite end of the urban space Septimius and his sons restored the Temple of Vespasian and added an inscription commemorating their work. Honorific columns placed on top of the rostra date to the Severan period as well (Figure 14).94
These interventions paled beside the addition of a magnificent new arch. Significantly, this was the first large, complete building added to the central area of the forum since the Temple of Divus Iulius over a century earlier.95 In 202 CE Septimius celebrated the tenth anniversary of his reign (decennalia) and returned from successful eastern campaigns against the Arabs, Parthians, and Adiabeneans. He declined a triumph, but along with his sons was voted an arch by the senate and people of Rome completed by 203 CE.96 The massive monument still stands north of the Rostra Augusti, near the Comitium, a spot chosen in part to affirm the locus of a prescient dream of Septimius (Figure 15).97 The inscription honored the emperor as "Pertinax" and "son of Marcus" for having achieved "the restoration of the state and the extension of the empire."98 Detailed reliefs recounting the successful campaigns embellished the two facades, and an impressive sculptural display of the emperor in a chariot flanked by his sons originally stood atop the monument (Figure 16). The style and complex iconography of the carvings and sculpture have been thoroughly explored.99
The monument was obviously a counterpoint to the arch located southwest of the rostra, which Tacitus described as propter aedem Saturni.100 That memorial celebrated the Germanic successes of the emperor Tiberius, who was also strongly associated with Parthia.101 A third Parthian memory was evoked by the Arch of Augustus that flanked the Temple of Divus Iulius. The large size of the new Severan arch, and the inclusion of stairs in the central opening, impeded vehicular access to the Rostra Augusti and Clivus Capitolinus thereby necessitating adjustments to the area, including the reworking of the surrounding paving and the street approaching from the east.102
Case Study 3: The Funeral of Septimius Severus
In 211 Septimius died in Eboricum (York) at the age of sixty-six. His wife and their two sons Caracalla and Geta brought his ashes to Rome and placed them in the Mausoleum of Hadrian. Herodian records that an effigy of the dead emperor was fashioned out of wax and laid atop an ivory couch displayed before the imperial residence.103 For seven days doctors attended the effigy before proclaiming him officially dead; an apotheosis ceremony followed shortly. Dressed in purple, the combative sons of Septimius led the funeral procession down from the Palatine and into the forum. Esteemed young senators and equestrians followed, carrying the ersatz corpse to the Rostra Augusti. The voices of women garbed in white rang out from temporary bleachers on one side of the "body," those of children similarly dressed rose from bleachers from the other side.
Such a generalized description only partially conveys the symbolic and physical complexities of the processional experience. The insertion of the Arch of Septimius Severus into the forum substantially altered movement along the main imperial processional route, advancing straight from the Temple of Divus Iulius along the front the Basilica Aemilia northwest toward the Severan arch.104 The stairs on the southeast side of the monument prevented the choreography of wheeled traffic passing through the dynastic arch. Instead, the elite participants in the funeral procession were now compelled to leave their vehicles and walk uphill through the arch to approach the rear stairs of the rostra, or to climb to the rostra by means of temporary wooden stairs on the front; the latter was perhaps the better alternative.105
Alternative 1: Entry North of the Temple of Divus Iulius
Two possible scenarios can be suggested for the parade choreography (Figure 17). According to the first, the procession entered the forum along the north side of the Temple of Divus Iulius (Figure 17a). After passing the temple's flank, wheeled vehicles lined up in front of the Basilica Aemilia or parked temporarily in one of the side streets (Argiletum or Clivus Argentarius). The new co-emperors Geta and Caracalla, as well as others who needed to ascend the rostra, walked through the Severan arch, turned left along the Clivus Capitolinus, and then climbed the curved stairs of the Rostra Augusti (Figure 17b). This choreography, however, was not ideal, since it hid these notables from the audience's view for a significant amount of time at a key moment in the event. A temporary wooden stairway may have provided direct access to the rostra front or to an adjacent temporary stage such as that constructed for the funeral of Pertinax.106 Other parade participants dispersed into the crowd that gathered behind the senators who, dressed in black, congregated (or sat) before the rostra. Alternatively, the parade may have passed before the front of the rostra and then around the southwest end of the speaker's platform to reach the stairs at the rear (Figure 17c).
Alternative 2: Entry South of the Temple of Divus Iulius
It is also possible that the parade entered the forum on the southwestern side of the Temple of Divus Iulius moving through the Arch of Augustus and then along the road in front of the Basilica Iulia (Figure 18).107 Following this path the procession turned right in front of Tiberius's arch (viewed to the left between the basilica and the Temple of Saturn), to approach the rear stairs of the Rostra Augusti. Elite participants mounted the platform, later rejoining the funerary retinue gathered below for the march to the tomb.108
The kinetic viewsheds along these two possible processional routes differ significantly. Each affected the parade participants by drawing their attention to different referents. The first processional route along the Basilica Aemilia offered internal views of the forum. The Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, which had loomed above the smaller, more recessed basilicas flanking the forum in the mid-republic, was now hidden from view by the towering verticality of the enormous Basilica Iulia. The Arch of Septimius Severus directly ahead defined the end of the imperial Sacra Via, its front-facing billboard-like faççade celebrating not only the emperor's military successes, but also the dynasty he established (see Figure 17a).109 As they moved farther into the forum, the imperial heirs at the head of the cortege would have been drawn toward the rostra, attracted in part by the mournful songs and white robes of the singers on the bleachers. The sea of black-garbed senators in front of the choir provided a neutral base above which they could see the honorific columns erected by Septimius on the rostra, the Temple of Saturn housing the state treasury, and farther back, the Temple of Vespasian restored by the deceased.
If the pompa funebris followed the second route, entering the forum through the Arch of Augustus south of the Temple of Divus Iulius, however, a related but different panorama of imperial imagery unfolded before the viewer. Those who passed along the road in front of the Basilica Iulia would have faced the Temple of Vespasian; the Temple of Saturn partially blocked the view of the facade, leaving visible a potent word in the lowest line: SEVERUS (Figure 18b).110 The visually and programmatically rich Rostra Augusti to the right would soon draw their gaze, with the broad Temple of Concord rising behind, evoking Severan claims of state and dynastic harmony. Simultaneously the great Severan arch loomed toward the north.111 In fact, to view the rostra from this route demanded that one view the arch as well. Although too distant to be read in detail, the great panels on the arch evoked the well-known spiral narratives on the columns of Trajan and Marcus Aurelius (Figure 18c). This association was reinforced for viewers on the southwest side of the forum in front of the Basilica Julia; far in the distance they could see Trajan's statue atop his column (Figure 18d).112 Moving toward the rostra this visual link was soon obstructed by the impressive Severan arch (Figure 18e).
Following the disruptions that preceded his accession to power, Septimius had been anxious to secure his position by associations with revered past dynasties and to lay the groundwork for future stability.113 By erecting his monument after a long hiatus in new building additions to the forum, he established a clear association with earlier Julio-Claudian projects. The Severan arch responds directly to the Arch of Augustus that stood diagonally across the forum, south of the Temple of Divus Iulius, and which similarly honored successes in Parthia.114 Just as Trajan, Marcus Aurelius, and Lucius Verus, Septimius was given the name Parthicus. A literate observer viewing the funerary events at the rostra would doubtless note the bronze inscription PARTHICO repeated on the upper corners of the arch attic. Like the tri-level relief, the reference was a verbal extension of the Column of Trajan in the distance (see Figure 18d). Whereas the column depicted the Dacian conquest, the arch reminded knowledgeable viewers that Trajan's Parthian conquest was short-lived and that it was Septimius Severus who ultimately completed the task begun years before. The recorded date for Severus's Parthian triumph was 28 January 198 CE, the same day as the dies imperii of Trajan (when he was officially proclaimed emperor in 98 CE, one hundred years earlier).115
The views of the arch observed by the procession were compelling, suggesting that the monument was specifically designed to interact with the funeral, a hypothesis that requires a further investigation of its place in imperial history. The death of an emperor always entailed great difficulties, and it was Augustus who first decided to plan ahead in monumental fashion. As early as 28 BCE, in his sixth consulship, Octavian, not yet Augustus, established a dynastic funerary tradition by building a monumental family tomb, the so-called Mausoleum.116 But it was much more. In name and form it recalled funerary monuments of the east and in so doing advertised his victory, operating as a Mausoleum-Tropaeum, a "tomb and trophy."117
In the first century CE Domitian erected a commemorative arch for his elder brother, the emperor Titus, southeast of the forum. Although not specifically celebrating a triumph, the memorial drew upon triumphal associations, while simultaneously underscoring dynastic continuity and reminding viewers of the donor's quasi-divine status as brother of a god. Celebrating the achievements of the deceased, the arch echoes the funerary practice of presenting a res gestae (list of accomplishments).118
While the funerary function of the Arch of Titus is questionable, that of the Column of Trajan is not. Whether it was envisioned as a tomb from the beginning, this memorial of the successful Dacian campaign certainly functioned as one when Trajan's ashes were placed within a chamber in the base.119 The Arch of Septimius Severus follows the tradition started with these imperial memorials. It was built as a triumphal trophy, but this function was compromised by the stairs on the forum side, which prevented a triumphing general in his gilded chariot from passing through the central opening. The arch also served specific propagandistic purposes: it was both an advertisement for dynastic continuity and a visual res gestae in the style of the Column of Trajan.120
During the Republic, Romans visually represented continuity by parading their revered ancestors from various centuries. Roman emperors continued to honor illustrious predecessors with displays of the state's viri illustres at their funerals. On other days of the year, they relied on forged visual connections among imperial monuments, especially among funerary memorials, to affirm their ties to past rulers. For example, an elite observer who climbed the Column of Marcus Aurelius exited the door on top to face the mausolea of Augustus and Hadrian.121 While no ancient references describe exactly who was allowed to ascend to such heights and see the visual lines that were drawn between Rome's imperial funerary monuments, the architectural accommodation of such elite viewing affirms its significance.
The Arch of Septimius Severus participated in similar visual interconnectivity. An internal stair led to chambers in the attic and to an external walkway at the same level protected by a metal balustrade.122 From this vantage point, a privileged imperial observer had a view over the entire Forum Romanum, a panorama almost on a par with that seen by the gods. He could easily observe the Arch of Titus to the southeast and the Column of Trajan to the north. However, his view of the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline was fragmentary and oblique (Figure 19). After all, since that temple had originated in the Republic and undergone numerous rebuildings by various patrons, it did not belong among the visually interconnected imperial memorials that honored individuals and dynasties. Looking up at the Severan arch, mortal observers in the forum might have seen a live figure moving along the narrow elevated walkway at a height associated with the divinities who were represented in nearby temple pediments. In fact, spectators who were standing at the north corner of the Basilica Aemilia's upper portico saw the pediment of the Temple of Concord rising above and behind the arch to frame the triumphal chariot atop the arch (Figure 20).123 Unfortunately, there is no information revealing which Romans could enjoy this potent prospect, or their reactions.
The Arch of Septimius Severus continued the tradition of Mausoleum-Tropaeum begun by the Mausoleum of Augustus and extended the visual web of associations woven by the commemorative columns of Trajan and Marcus Aurelius. Yet with his arch the so-called son of Marcus went further than his predecessors, boldly imposing his memorial on the rituals held in the forum. The Arch of Septimius dictated the choreography of future triumphal processions and dominated the viewshed of those who participated in and observed the funerary parade. While these conclusions could be made by analyzing a plan of the forum, the three-dimensional modeling of the arch in its imperial setting has made the significance of the siting and program fully comprehensible. In particular, the orientation of the arch approximately parallel to the rostra is seen to have created a formal tableau that concretized the status-associated frontal view appreciated by the Romans. The result is evident in a relief on the Arch of Constantine (see Figure 14). The artist shows the emperor performing an oratio from atop the rostra, flanked by the Arch of Tiberius to the left and the Arch of Septimius to the right. The two imperial memorials form potent bookends that eliminate the need to represent other buildings.124 Significantly, the Basilica Iulia is added to this panorama, an affirmation of both the building's impact on the peripheral vision of Roman spectators, and the artist's need to counterbalance the scale and power of the large Arch of Septimius.
Computer visualizations replete with movement, sound, light, and other features are changing the way we think about reconstructions. A digital laboratory facilitates experimentation by allowing consideration of alternative reconstructions of both human actions and the environments in which they occur. In creating digital reconstructions of events and places, scholars can yoke together disjointed archaeological sites into a holistic environment, united by a common coordinate system. The experimental insertion of ritual events in these environments can restore human activity to the context it once inhabited. Although the topographical picture and the granularity of the reconstructed evidence have changed, the means of reinterpretation is the same. The exploration of a historical event within its context and the reading of the interrelationship among reconstructed digital forms that are tied to more scientifically accurate topography can give rise to new questions and conclusions. The visualization of historical phenomena temporally and topographically prompts, in turn, the reassessment of literary and material evidence. The digital recreations are not post-research presentations, but integral research tools.125
The study of digital experiential models of the Forum Romanum during the mid-Republic period confirms the clear visual interconnection between the Capitoline Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus and the Comitium. The interactive reconstructions also demonstrate the striking concurrence between textual allusions to the oratorical stage and the schematic, reconstructed topography. An enriched interpretation of the spectacle is the result. The contextualized, three-dimensional analysis of viewsheds underscores the Cornelii's exploitation of sight lines between Jupiter's temple above and the ceremonial actions below, informing the much discussed question of speaker orientation.
For scholars of the high imperial period, immersive digital models facilitate the testing of hypotheses regarding buildings, topography, and processions. The consideration of events in situ illustrates how the Romans choreographed their processions to exploit the scale, orientation, sequencing, and symbolic associations of structures and places. The Severan building program in the forum refocused funeral activities. Its architecture, inscribed propagandistic texts, and sculptural program redirected both the processional route and the gaze of the audience and participants. The result was an imperial panorama that reified the res gestae of the emperor and confirmed through visual associationism the symbolic connection between the deceased and revered earlier rulers.
We would like to thank Hilary Ballon, David Brownlee, the Society of Architectural Historians, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the opportunity to publish born-digital research in the first online issue of the JSAH. Abbreviations of ancient sources and related texts follow Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth, ed. The Oxford Classical Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), xxxix––liv.
Egon Flaig, Ritualisierte Politik: Zeichen, Gesten und Herrschaft im Alten Rom. Historische Semantik (Gööttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2003), vol. 1, 49––68. Polybius specifically cited the wearing of ancestral masks and giving eulogies at funerals as evidence of Roman superiority; Polyb. 6.52––54; see also Sallust Iug. 4.5––6; the merits of various forms of symbolic capital are discussed in Sallust Iug. 85, passim.
For a broad overview of Roman funerary practices see J. M. C. Toynbee, Death and Burial in the Roman World (London: Thames & Hudson, 1971), 43––64; for funerary spectacles see Keith Hopkins, Death and Renewal (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 201––56; for the use of ancestral imagery see Harriet Flower, Ancestor Masks and Aristocratic Power in Roman Culture (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 91––158.
The most detailed analysis of the experience of the Roman funeral is found in John Bodel, "Death on Display: Looking at Roman Funerals," in The Art of Ancient Spectacle, ed. Bettina Ann Bergmann and Christine Kondoleon (Washington D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1999), 259––80; and Javier Arce, Memoria De Los Antepasados: Puesta En Escena y Desarrollo del Elogio Funebre Romano (Madrid: Electa, 2000).
The major modern works on funerals of the emperors are by Javier Arce, Funus Imperatorum: los funerales de los emperadores romanos (Madrid: Alianza, 1990); Paul Zanker, Die Apotheose Der Röömischen Kaiser: Ritual Und Stäädtische Büühne (Munich: Carl Friedrich von Siemens Stiftung, 2004); and S. R. F Price, "From Noble Funerals to Divine Cult: the Consecration of Roman Emperors," in Rituals of Royalty: Power and Ceremonial in Traditional Societies, ed. David Cannadine and S. R. F. Price (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 56––105. The distinction between funerals at public expense (funus publicum) and other privately funded events, as well as the process for allowing funerals in the Forum Romanum, remains uncertain.
The real-time digital models of the Forum Romanum used in these analyses were created at UCLA over a number of years; http://www.etc.ucla.edu. This study contains two distinct types of models, each built with related, but not entirely similar, goals and methodologies. The two types are clearly distinguished by surface material. The fully textured, highly detailed models showing imperial Rome in the fourth century CE were developed in a multi-university project directed by Bernie Frischer and Diane Favro; the construction of the models was overseen by Dean Abernathy initially at UCLA and later at the University of Virginia. For a full list of participants and data, see http://dlib.etc.ucla.edu/projects/Forum. Scholarly scientific committees vetted each building reconstruction. The original models were rebuilt by Itay Zaharovits (UCLA ETC), Steven Guban (UCLA ETC), Tom Beresford (UCLA ETC), and Brendan Beachler (UCLA ETC) under the direction of Christopher Johanson (UCLA) in order to further refine the geographical accuracy of the models and to accommodate the demands of internet-based distribution. The schematic, textureless models depicting republican Rome were based on the doctoral research of Johanson, who oversaw development by Tom Beresford (UCLA ETC) and Kathryn Fallat (UCLA ETC); Philip Stinson (University of Kansas) worked on sections of an initial investigation of the Curia and Comitium complex.
A graphic representation is a bearer of meaning. In creating the models of the Forum Romanum, two general operating principles were implemented. First was the decision to convey the level of evidence on which it is based through graphical means. Since data for the forum in the republican period is limited and often controversial, the buildings are depicted as simple masses without detail. The models represent possible, but not definitive reconstructions of the form and location of individual monuments. In contrast, the richer archaeological and textual information for the imperial period allows (if not encourages) a higher level of detail, including material textures and colors and architectural details and inscriptions, as well as increased specificity about building heights. The result has a greater sense of verisimilitude, but is consciously mediated by the second operating principle. The modeling team members decided not to aim for a hyperrealistic digital representation. Instead, they conceptualized the digital reconstruction models as knowledge representations based on documented archaeological information, period-specific analogs, and valid secondary information such as Renaissance drawings of lost building components. Features that cannot be recreated or located with certainty are not included. At times technological and resource limitations restricted development. Thus there are few statues, no people, little vegetation, and no graffiti; building surfaces do not show age or wear. Structures whose form and placement are controversial are not shown. The result occupies a precarious position between the hyperrealistic renderings familiar from contemporary films, with historic environments recreated in toto, and rigorously documented archaeological reconstructions often depicted as a sanitized (if informative) line drawings without textures or color.
For well-executed line drawings of the reconstructed forum see those by Elizabeth H. Riorden in John E. Stambaugh, The Ancient Roman City (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988); Cairoli Fulvio Giuliani and Patrizia Verduchi, L'area centrale del Foro Romano (Florence: L.S. Olschki, 1987), 163, fig. 233. For a discussion and bibliography of two- and three-dimensional reconstructions of ancient Rome, see Lothar Haselberger, "Mapping Augustan Rome: Introduction to an Experiment," in Mapping Augustan Rome, ed. Elisha Ann Dumser, Journal of Roman Archaeology, suppl. series 50 (2002), 9––28. Zanker's influential book Forum Romanum: Die Neugestaltung durch Augustus considered over six hundred years of the forum's history, but provided only two reconstructions for the Imperial period: a simplified black-and-white sketch and a tightly cropped photograph of the famous plaster model of Rome at the time of Constantine built at approximately 1:250 scale; Forum Romanum: Die Neugestaltung durch Augustus (Tüübingen: E. Wasmuth, 1972).
It is only in rare cases that researchers possess the technical and scientific skills to execute complex restoration drawings, models, or full-scale building reconstructions; Fikret Yegüül and Tristan Couch, "Building a Roman Bath for the Cameras," Journal of Roman Archaeology 16, no. 1 (2003), 153––77.
Diane Favro, "In the Eyes of the Beholder: VR Urban Models and Academia," Journal of Roman Archaeology, suppl. series 61 (2006), 321––34.
The most detailed description of the Roman funeral remains Polybius (6.52––54) who was writing in the first half of the second century BCE. His aim, however, was not to describe the funeral; rather he used certain aspects of the funeral institution as examples to illustrate why Romans are braver than their Carthaginian foes.
Flower, Ancestor Masks, 97.
Graham Zanker, Modes of Viewing in Hellenistic Poetry and Art (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004). In the Roman funerary context, the patron (the family of the deceased) may have prevented the representation of buildings in the forum because they were associated with other clans.
Catharine Edwards, Writing Rome: Textual Approaches to the City (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996); Andrews Burnett, "Buildings and Monuments on Roman Coins," in Roman Coins and Public Life under the Empire: E. Togo Salmon Papers II, ed. George Paul and Michael Ierardi (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999).
Diana Kleiner, Roman Sculpture (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1992), 248––50; Mario Torelli, Lexicon Topigraphicum Urbis Romae (LTUR), ed. Eva Margareta Steinby (Rome: Quasar, 1999) vol. 4, 95––96. The building identifications are for the most part agreed upon by scholars, though the arch depicted on the Debt Burning relief remains variously identified either as the Arch of Tiberius equated with the arch joining the Basilica Iulia and Temple of Saturn over the Vicus Iugarius or as an unverified arch on the Clivus Capitolinus. A procession of sacrificial animals (the souvetaurilia) is carved on the back of each relief which led early restorers to place the Analgypha as opposing balustrades atop the rostra; however, the archaeological evidence is inconclusive.
The Rostra Augusti was a speaker's platform usually reserved for popular assemblies, political campaigning, and imperial rituals. In the Julio-Claudian age it was common for speeches to be delivered across the forum, with the emperor on the platform at the Temple of Divus Iulius and the presumptive heir on the Rostra Augusti as at the funerals of Octavia Maior and Augustus; Dio Cass. 54.35.5; Suet. Aug. 100. The depiction of Roman speakers atop a simplified dias was an established artistic trope and in these reliefs substitutes for a more realistic representation of the rostra.
On the Debt Burning relief the Temple of Castor and Pollux and the Basilica Iulia are accurately sited in relation to one another. The Temple of Saturn is shown in alignment, but actually juts far forward; the Temple of Vespasian and Titus is also aligned frontally, though in the forum it sits at right angles to the other buildings depicted.
The following interpretation of the building depictions on the Anaglypha reliefs runs contra to Richardson's proposal that their placement was arbitrary; Lawrence Richardson Jr., A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), 292––93.
Visuality refers to the cultural constitution of vision. While the concept of the period eye has been explored for post-antique painting and artwork, it has only recently been considered in relation to Roman architecture, urban design, and processional events. Paul Zanker wisely cautions scholars not to over generalize by imaging ancient viewers are imbued with the knowledge of all antiquity, rather than the specifics of a particular period, class, and gender; "In Search of the Roman Viewer," in The Interpretation of Architectural Sculpture in Greece and Rome, ed. Dianna Buitron-Oliver (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1997), 179; Diane Favro, "Ancient Rome through the Veil of Sight," in Sites Unseen: Landscape and Vision, ed. Dianne Harris and Dede Ruggles (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007), 111––30; Diane Favro, "The Festive Experience: Roman Processions in the Urban Context," in Festival Architecture, ed. Sarah Bonnemaison and Christine Macy (New York: Routledge, 2007), 10––42.
De arch. 4.5.1. Vitruvius also told architects to locate altars "on a lower level than the statues in the temples, so that those who are praying and sacrificing may look upwards towards the divinity;" De arch. 4.9.
Gregory S. Aldrete, Gestures and Acclamations in Ancient Rome (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999); Richard Brilliant, Gesture and Rank in Roman Art: The Use of Gestures to Denote Status in Roman Sculpture and Coinage (New Haven: The Academy, 1963).
Roman statues could depict both deceased and living people. The numerous sculpted works in Rome formed a second population, as evident in a funerary relief showing the deceased shaking hands with a sculpture; Kleiner, Roman Sculpture, 236. In republican-period funeral processions the actors or family members wearing ancestral masks imitated motionless statues in chariots; by the time of the Principate actors were more animated, interacting directly with the audience; Jöörg Rüüpke, "Triumphator and Ancestor Rituals: Between Symbolic Anthropology and Magic," Numen 53, no. 3 (2006), 251––89.
Especially influential in architectural and urban design circles were Donald Appleyard, Kevin Lynch, and John Myer, The View from the Road (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1964); and Kevin Lynch, The Image of the City (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1960). The diagrams and notational systems explored in these works, however, did not gain wide popularity. In a few cases these representational strategies were applied to the analysis of historical environments, but generally by practitioners, not historians; G. E. Kidder Smith, Italy Builds: Its Modern Architecture and Native Inheritance (New York: Reinhold, 1955); Rob Krier, Urban Space, trans. Christine Czechowski and George Black (New York: Rizzoli, 1979).
Heinrich Drerup, "Bildraum und Realraum in der röömischen Architektur," Röömische Mitteilungen 66 (1959), 145––74; Daniela Corla?ita Scagliarini, "Spazio e decorazione nella pittura pompeiana," Palladio 23––25 (1974––76), 3––44; Lise Bek, "Towards Paradise on Earth: Modern Space Conception in Architecture, a Creation of Renaissance Humanism," Analecta romana Istituti Danici, suppl. 9 (Rome, 1980); Franz Jung "Gebaute Bilder," Antike Kunst 17 (1984) 71––122; John R. Clarke, Houses of Roman Italy, 100 B.C.––A.D. 250: Ritual, Space, and Decoration (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), 1––77; Bettina Bergmann, "The Roman House as Memory Theater: The House of the Tragic Poet in Pompeii," Art Bulletin 76, no. 2 (June 1994), 225––56. For consideration of urban sightlines see Francesca Bocchi, "Nuove metodologie per la storia delle cittàà: La cittàà in quattro dimensioni," in Medieval Metropolises, Proceedings of the Congress of Atlas Working Group, ed. Francesca Bocchi (Bologna: Grafis, 1999), 11––28; S. J. R. Ellis, "The Distribution of Bars at Pompeii: Archaeological, Spatial and Viewshed Analysis," Journal of Roman Archeology 17, no. 1 (2004), 371––84.
Diane Favro, "Reading the Augustan City," in Narrative and Event in Ancient Art, ed. Peter Holliday (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 230––57; Michael Koortbojian, "In Commemorationem Mortuorum: Text and Image Along the 'Streets of Tombs'" in Art and Text in Roman Culture, ed. Ja's Elsner (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).
The domestic architecture preserved around the Bay of Naples is the most common subject of kinetic, as well as stationary, visual analyses, though research is expanding; Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, Houses and Society in Pompeii and Herculaneum (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994); G. P. Earl, "Wandering the House of the Birds: Reconstruction and Perception at Roman Italica," The 6th International Symposium on Virtual Reality, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage VAST (2005), http://public-repository.epoch-net.org/publications/VAST2005/shortpapers/short1056.pdf (accessed 30 July, 2007). Fixed sightline analysis is problematic for ancient processional events where the audience members, as well as the parade participants, were frequently in motion; Favro, "The Festive Experience," 10––42.
Research on the senses in historical contexts is expanding in tandem with a surge of publications about sensorial contemporary architecture; Michael Benedikt, "Coming to Our Senses," Harvard Design Magazine 26 (Spring/Summer 2007), 83––91. For example, olfactory stimuli are mentioned for the Roman funeral (specifically the need for perfumes to mask the smell of death), but such discussions rarely consider the architectural context; Herodian 4.2; Constance Classen, Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell (London: Routledge, 1994), 13––50.
In effect, illustrations are used to present findings of research rather than operating as part of the research; Diane Favro, "The Street Triumphant: The Urban Impact of Roman Triumphal Parades" in Streets: Critical Perspectives on Public Space, ed. Zeynep ÇÇelik, Diane Favro, and Richard Ingersoll (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994) 151––64.
Seamless access to archaeological and modeling data about a digital reconstruction is essential. Experiments are underway to make the veracity parameters of reconstructions evident either graphically (e.g., digital watermarks) or with accompanying graphs (e.g. veracity sliders); Kim Veltman, "Developments and Challenges in Digital Culture," Proceedings of the Moscow EVA Conference (Moscow: Russian Ministry of Culture, 2001), http://www.sumscorp.com/articles/pdf/2001%20Developments%20in%20Digital%20Culture.pdf (accessed 30 June 2007); John Pollini, "The Problematics of Making Ambiguity Explicit in Virtual Reconstructions: A Case Study of the Mausoleum of Augustus," abstract, http://www.chart.ac.uk/ 21st Annual Conference of CHArt: Computers and the History of Art http://www.chart.ac.uk/chart2005/abstracts/pollini.htm (accessed 30 June 2007).
Such phenomenological experiments acknowledge a greater scholarly comfort level today with fuzzy logic and indeterminacy.
Oliver Grau, Virtual Art: From Illusion to Immersion translated by Gloria Custance (Cambridge MIT Press, 2003), 25––26.
For short references to funeral processions of the middle and late Republic period, see Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 5.17.2; 11.39.55; Horace, Serm. 1.6.43; Plutarch, Lucul. 43. For the speech on the rostra see Polybius 6.53.1; "in foro," Cicero, De Orat. 11.84.341; the ancient sources are collected in Friedrich Vollmer, "Laudationum funebrium Romanorum historia et reliquiarum editio," in Jahrbüücher füür classische Philologie, Suppl. (1891), 445––528.
The crowd may have already gathered in the forum since, by the late Republic, some funerals were announced in advance; see Cic. de Leg. 2.24.61.
Court cases did not adjourn for a funerary parade; Cic. De Or. 2.225. To compensate, funerals were loud; see Horace Sat. 1.6.42––44 where an orator is said to have such a loud voice that he could drown out three concurrent funerals.
The housing situation for Roman senators is examined in J. P. Guilhembet, "Les réésidences urbaines des séénateurs romains des Gracques àà Auguste: La maison dans la ville," L'Information historique 58, no. 5 (1996), 185––97. Useful case studies are Steven M. Cerutti, "The Location of the Houses of Cicero and Clodius and the Porticus Catuli on the Palatine Hill in Rome" American Journal of Philology 118, no. 3 (1997), 417––26; M. Medri, "Fonti letterarie e fonti archeologiche: un confronto possibile su M. Emilio Scauro il Giovane, la sua domus magnifica e il theatrum opus maximumomnium," Méélanges d'archééologie et d'histoire de l'ÉÉcole franççaise de Rome 109, no. 1 (1997), 83––110; E. Papi, "Domus est quae nulli villarum mearum cedat (Cic. Epist. 5.6.18). Osservazioni sulle residenze del Palatino alla metàà del I secolo a.C.," in Horti romani: atti del convegno internazionale, Roma, 4––6 maggio 1995, ed. Maddalena Cima and Eugenio La Rocca (Rome: "L'Erma" di Bretschneider, 1995), 45––67. The exact route of the Sacra Via is controversial. Some scholars argue the name refers to a processional path rather than to a specific street, a distinction that is supported by the discrepancies between the textual and archaeological evidence, and by changes in definition over time, most specifically after the fire of Nero; Filippo Coarelli, LTUR, vol. 4, 223––28; Richardson, New Topographical Dictionary, 338––40. Debates over the pre-Neronian route are explored by Adam Ziolkowski in Sacra Via: Twenty Years after, Journal of Juristic Papyrology Supplements 3 (Warsaw: Fundacja im. Rafałła Taubenschlaga, 2004).
Possible but not necessarily probable entries existed along the Argiletum to the north, the Vicus Iugarius and the Vicus Tuscus to the south, the Clivus Argentarius to the northwestern entrances that connected to the Sacra Via and the southeastern entrances to the forum along the road paralleling the northern course of the Sacra Via. Parades could be quite long. By the late Republic, Sulla's funeral was remarkable even for a funus publicum; in addition to the countless horn and flute players, the professional mourners and the family, priests and priestess, the senate, all magistrates including their lictors, many knights, and all of his legions joined the parade; App. B. Civ. 1.14.106.
The similarity was noted in antiquity; Sen. Consolatio ad Marciam 3.1 refers to the funeral of Drusus as "very much like a triumph;" Hendrik Simon Versnel, Triumphus: an Inquiry into the Origin, Development and Meaning of the Roman Triumph (Leiden: Brill, 1970). Understanding of the triumphal route implicitly guides the discussion of the pompa funebris.
See above, note 2; Polybius 6.53––54 contains the fullest description.
See above, note 3. Jöörg Rüüpke, contends that the parade of ancestors is actually a parade of living statuary; "Triumphator and Ancestor Rituals," 272.
Nicholas Purcell, LTUR, vol. 2, 325––36 describes the state of the evidence and provides bibliography. For a relatively recent three-dimensional reconstruction of the republican forum, see Karthryn Welch, "A New View of the Origins of the Basilica: The Atrium Regium, Graecostasis, and Roman Diplomacy," Journal of Roman Archaeology 16, no. 1 (2003), 5––34.
Mark Gillings, "The Real, the Virtually Real, and the Hyperreal: The Role of VR in Archaeology," in Envisoning the Past, ed. Sam Smiles and Stephanie Moser (Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2004), 229––30.
Siting validation is obtained through the use of a GIS base layer. 1:500 geo-referenced cadastral maps of the modern archaeological site created by S.A.R.A. Nistri, Srl. function as the glue that holds the individual archaeological studies together. All maps and plans were geo-referenced in ESRI ArcMap, exported to Google Earth via Arc2Earth, and then imported into Google Sketchup.
Randall Davis, Howard Shrobe, and Peter Szolowits, "What Is a Knowledge Representation?" AI Magazine 14, no. 1 (Spring 1993), 17––33.
Each type of model (from schematic to the more detailed) is limited. The nature of the evidence for the forum of the mid-Republic invites controversy. The most in-depth examination of the republican forum is Filippo Coarelli's two-volume work Foro Romano (Rome: Quasar, 1983––85), but many of its conclusions have been challenged. For example, Coarelli's reconstruction of a circular Comitium has been repeatedly questioned, and portions of the reconstruction seem to defy archaeological evidence. No satisfactory alternative, however, has been proposed. The approach taken in this study is to work within research boundaries already established by archaeologists, classicists, and historians, focusing on experiential analysis and avoiding topographical debate. Where feasible, alternatives are considered. Above all, the use of a GIS as a base layer ensures that the reconstructions adhere to real-world constraints.
For temples of the mid-Republic the plans and positions may be known as with those of Opimian Concord, Castor and Pollux, Vesta, and Saturn, but the height and exact configuration in the Republic era remain uncertain. For the Temple of Saturn, only the podium may relate to the republican version of the structure; the rest of the temple, which would have affected the view from the forum, has been obliterated. The Basilica Porcia and the Curia Hostilia exist only as fragmented foundations of questionable identity. While significant portions of the Basilica Iulia survive, its form and elevation would have differed drastically from the earlier Basilica Sempronia.
Republican reconstructions are found in Peter Connolly, The Ancient City: Life in Classical Athens & Rome (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998) 108 and Welch, "A New View," 29 fig. 11 (by Stinson), though with distorting views elevated above eye level.
Not only do most pictorial reconstructions place the observer high above ground level, they also exaggerate the topography as with the depiction by Alberto Carpiceci in Rome 2000 Years Ago (Florence: Bonechi edizioni, 1981), 8––9 (fig. 8). The same is true for the plaster of paris model of Rome (generally referred to as the Plastico) begun in the 1930s, which elevated major hills in Rome by 15 to 25 percent to make them more visible; Giuseppina Pisani Sartorio, "Le plan de Gismondi," in Rome: L'Espace urbain et ses repréésentations, ed. Francois Hinard and Manuel Royo (Paris: Presses de l'Universitéé de Paris––Sorbonne, 1991), 264. For the influence of Jupiter's temple and the Capitoline Hill on the mental image of the city, see Catherine Edwards, Writing Rome: Textual Approaches to the City (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996) 69––95.
The following case studies explore hypothetical funerals of the Cornelii dating roughly to 183––145 BCE. There is no direct evidence from these funerals. Instead, we use the funerals as a point of departure to follow the hypothetical routes that such events must have taken.
Flower, Ancestor Masks, 48––52; Val. Max. 8.15.1; and App. Iber. 23.
For an alternate view on this manipulation, see Flower, Ancestor Masks, 48––52, who notes (48): "Although our sources are not explicit on this point, they imply that the whole procession started at the house and continued up to the temple of Jupiter on the Capitol to pick up Africanus, before making its way to the Forum." Appian and Valerius Maximus both note the retrieval of Scipio Africanus's imago from the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus. Valerius Maximus writes ("Whenever the gens Cornelia need to hold a funeral, the imago is sought from [the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus].") Most likely, Valerius Maximus is ignoring the details of the stemma of the Cornelii. While it is possible that every branch of the Cornelii brought out the imago of Africanus——the Sullae did——one wonders whether the Cornelii Lentuli did the same.
For a comprehensive collection of the ancient sources see Flower, Ancestor Masks, 185––222.
Ancient sources do not specify why or when the imago of Scipio Africanus was placed in the Capitoline temple. Certainly, Scipio had always demonstrated a special relationship with the temple; Liv. 38.51.12; and 26.19.7; J. R. Fears "The Cult of Jupiter and Roman Imperial Ideology" II.17.1 Aufsteig und Niedergang der röömischen Welt (1981), 44; Ann Vasaly, Representations: Images of the World in Ciceronian Oratory (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), 73. The similar mythologies of Scipio and Alexander the Great underscore the particular difficulties of republican evidence; James S. Ruebel, "Politics and Folktale in the Classical World," Asian Folklore Studies 50, no. 1 (1991), 17––18.
On the Cornelii and the Tomb of the Scipios, see Toynbee, Death and Burial, 39––40.
Livy (44.16.10––11) notes that the house, which probably stood on the Vicus Tuscus, was purchased and demolished by Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus in 170 BCE to build the Basilica Sempronia; Richardson, New Topographical Dictionary, 134; E. Papi, LTUR, vol. 2, 88. Therefore, the purely pragmatic need to compensate for the extremely short march to the rostra by extending the parade to the Capitoline Hill would have been obviated within thirteen years of Scipio's death.
Did the main procession move up the Capitoline to retrieve the mask? Or was it a separate processional element? Appian reports that the imago of Scipio was still being fetched from the temple during his own time; App. Iber. 23. He implies that the imago was incorporated into the full procession, but compares it to other imagines that are brought "from the Forum." Rather than consider "from the Forum" an egregious error, recall that Appian was writing during the first third of the second century CE. While the form of the funeral and the representation of the imagines had changed drastically since the Republic, the tradition of manipulating the conveyance of the imagines continued.
They may have been sitting in bleachers that were built in anticipation of the upcoming games; E. J. Jory, "Gladiators in the Theatre," The Classical Quarterly, new series 36, no. 2. (1986), 537––39. See below for the imperial model, which included bleachers that served a different purpose; Herodian 4.2.5.
It must be underscored that such abstracted models are experiments. As a result they should be treated as hypotheses for investigations much like the trials undertaken within a scientific laboratory. These models represent an aggregation and 3-D visualization of the published work of others. They address the question, "If the forum had looked like this, how might we re-read the rest of the evidence?"
Dion. Hal. Rom. Ant. 4.61.3; Einar Gjerstad, Early Rome III: Fortifications, Domestic Architecture, Sanctuaries, Stratigraphic Excavations (Lund: C. W. K. Gleerup, 1960); John W. Stamper, The Architecture of Roman Temples: The Republic to the Middle Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005). For a full discussion of the reconstruction problem see, Mantha Zarmakoupi, review of Stamper, Bryn Mawr Classical Review, 4:22, 2006, and the review of Stamper by John Senseney, American Journal of Archaeology 111, no. 2 (April 2007), 384. Cairoli Giuliani notes that in the Gjerstad reconstruction the dimensions of the Temple of Jupiter would have exceeded those of the Parthenon in its 12-meter central intercolumniation; L'edilizia nell'antichita (Rome: La Nuova Italia Scientifica, 1990), 16––17.
The Capitoline temple was frequently mentioned in speeches given in the forum, underscoring the crucial intervisuality between these urban nodes. Livy notes that Manlius Capitolinus was not convicted for sedition because the site of his trial in the Campus Martius afforded magnificent views of Jupiter's temple; Livy 6.20.5; for a full discussion see Vasaly, Representations, 15. While elite speakers in the Comitium could have seen the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, the audience could not. They relied on their knowledge of its location rather than an actual prospect.
The Roman funeral procession included bands of musicians and, often, persons singing dirges in praise of the dead; John G. Landels, Music in Ancient Greece and Rome (London: Routledge, 1999), 179––80. The recreation of both the basic sounds and the music of ancient instruments is extremely problematic; as a result, only generalized interpretations of sound can be inferred from the architectural context. New attempts to simulate Roman performances are underway by experimental archaeologists; see for example http://www.soundcenter.it/synauliaeng.htm and http://www.musica-romana.de/ (accessed 30 June 2007).
Pliny mentions the statues on the rostra; NH 34.23––25. For a hypothetical plan of statue placement in the Comitium and on the rostra, see Markus Sehlmeyer, Stadtröömische Ehrenstatuen der republikanischen Zeit: Historizitäät und Kontext von Symbolen nobilitäären Standesbewusstseins (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 1999), map 2.
Though Roman spectators in elevated locations (such as the poor in the highest seats in theaters) may have had totalizing views of events, their sight was compromised by distance and lack of precision, especially without ocular aids. Regarding ancient spectator seating and associated legislation see Elizabeth Rawson, "Discrimina Ordinum: The Lex Julia Theatralis," Papers of the British School at Rome 55 (1987), 83––114; F. Pina Polo, Contra Arma Verbis: Der Redner vor dem Volk in der spääten röömischen Republik (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 1996), 23––25; cf. Robert Morstein-Marx, Mass Oratory and Political Power in the Late Roman Republic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 51, esp. note 57.
On the effect of the chronological arrangement, see Maurizio Bettini, Anthropology and Roman Culture: Kinship, Time, Images of the Soul (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), 167––83; and Bodel, "Death on Display," 264.
Cic. De leg 2.23.58. Elite Roman women could also receive similar funerary honors; Cic. De orat. 2.11; Suet. Iul. 26, Suet. Calig. 10.
Cic. Amic. 25.96; Varro, Rust. 1.2.9.
Plut. C. Grach 5.3; for a full discussion of the evidence, see Morstein-Marx, Mass Oratory, 45––7.
Plautus Curc. 475––6 refers to a canalis in the forum and archaeological explorations have confirmed the existence of second-century vaulting; John N. Hopkins, "The Cloaca Maxima and the Monumental Manipulation of Water in Archaic Rome," Aquae Urbis Romae: The Waters of the City of Rome 4 (March 2007), 9.
The senaculum was the area where senators congregated before being summoned to enter the Senate House; Varro, Ling. 5.156. The Graecostasis was a raised tribunal for ambassadors from foreign states; Varro, Ling. 5.155.
For the general topography of the area, see Paolo Carafa, Il comizio di Roma dalle origini all'etáá di Augusto (Roma: "L'Erma" di Bretschneider, 1998).
On the Basilica Porcia, see E. M. Steinby, LTUR, vol. 1, 187; and Liv. 39.44.7. On porticoed viewing at funerals during the Empire, see Cassius Dio 75.74.4.
Though it is possible statues faced different directions, the majority of examples found in situ were oriented in the same direction; Peter Stewart, Statues in Roman Society: Representation and Response (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 262.
For a discussion of Cicero's famous reference to the Capitol, see Vasaly, Representations, 83––84.
The evidence is hardly clear. Valerius Maximus in the paragraph subsequent to his description of Scipio's imago recounts that an effigies of Cato was placed in the Curia, but makes no direct funerary association; Val. Max. 8.15.2.
Valerius Maximus notes that Scipio allegedly did not participate in business without first having spent some time in the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline and for this reason was considered by some to be the god's progeny; Val. Max. 1.2.2, Raymond Marks, From Republic to Empire: Scipio Africanus in the Punica of Silius Italicus (New York: Peter Lang, 2005), 169, 187.
Price, "From Noble Funerals," 57––58.
For example, Herodian records that at the funeral of Septimius Severus the Roman magistrates gave up their authority; 4.2.
Price emphasizes the role of the deceased emperor's apotheosis as a defining act that separated him from his mortal republican forebears; "From Noble Funerals," 57––105.
Dio Cass.75.4––5, Herodian 4.2, SHA Sev. 7.
Dozens of statues stood in the forum, including republican remnants such as the statue of Marsyas. By the late second century CE the new sculptural additions were predominantly of the imperial family; Stewart, Statues (see note 69), 5, 87––8, 134.
Dio Cass. 43.49.
Suet. Iul. 84––85; Aug. 100.
The high podium of this building was identified as "rostra aedes divi Iuli;" Pierre Gros, LTUR, vol. 3, 117. At his funeral Augustus was eulogized at the opposing rostra; Roger B. Ulrich, The Roman Orator and the Sacred Stage: The Roman Templum Rostratum, Collection Latomus 222 (Brussels: Latomus, 1994), 186––87.
Cassius Dio includes the description of the funeral after a list of dreams as part of Septimius's propaganda to legitimize his rule; 75.4––5; Timothy Barnes, "The Composition of Cassius Dio's 'Roman History,'" Phoenix 38, no. 3 (Autumn 1984), 245; Price, "From Noble Funerals," 59––61.
The funeral given by Septimius compensated for the numerous disrespectful acts against Pertinax after he was murdered; SHA Pert. 11, 14; Dio Cass., 74.13.1––2.
The traditional dress of mourning was the grayish toga pulla; Juv. X.245. In addition, Roman men put aside all ornaments and did not cut their hair; Herodian, 4.2; Terent. Heaut. II.3.47; Suet. Jul. 67, Aug. 23, Cal. 24.
Evidence on the time of day for imperial Roman funerals is scant. Presumably the funeral procession did not arrive at the rostra until the sun fell on the platform at mid-morning. It exited the forum in mid-afternoon to allow enough daylight to complete the activities at the burial site; Plut. Vit. Sull. 38.
Roman funeral music and ritual lamentation has been reconstructed by composer Walter Maioli. His "Neniae," performed by Synaulia Research Group, is recorded on Synaulia, Music of Ancient Rome, Volume 1: Wind Instruments (Amiata Records 1996). Regarding the significance of music in funerals of the Imperial era see John R. Levison, "The Roman Character of Funerals in the Writings of Josephus, Journal for the Study of Judaism 33, no. 3 (Sept. 2002), 274––76.
Damaged in the fire of 191/192 CE, the condition of the temple of Vespasian and Titus directly south of Concord's temple is uncertain for the time of Pertinax's funeral; Dio Cass. 72.24.1.
SHA Pert. 3.4.9.
Dio Cass. 75.5.
Septimius may have undertaken more extensive reworking of the Forum Romanum in lieu of creating an imperial forum. The addition of his great arch visually, if not literally, closed in and defined the space with monumental gateways at the four main entries. Septimius Severus is also associated with the creation of the Forma Urbis Romae, a great marble map of the entire city. A comprehensive study of Severan building in Rome is underway by Susann Lusnia.
Though not officially adopted by Marcus Aurelius, Septimius referred to him as "father;" Dio Cass. 76.7. The equestrian statue also reflected the impact of the gigantic Equus Domitiani that stood in the center of the forum until Domitian suffered damnatio memoriae; Stat. Silv. 1.1.
A fire in the late second century ravaged the Palatine slopes and Temple of Vesta, as well as the Forum Pacis; the extent of destruction in the central forum is uncertain; Dio Cass. 73.24.
Charmaine Gorrie, "Julia Domna's Building Patronage, Imperial Family Roles and the Severan Revival of Moral Legislation," Historia: Zeitschrift füür Alte Geschichte 53, no. 1 (2004), 65––68.
Restoration work on the Temple of Vespasian is thought to date to before 203 CE; CIL VI.938. Archaeological evidence affirms the erection of the columns as part of the Severan reworking of the area around the rostra; Patrizia Verduchi, "Rostra Augusti," LTUR, vol. 4, 216.
In the intervening years numerous sculptures had been added to the forum, including the large reliefs of the Plutei Traiani/Hadriani. Most major buildings had been restored or renovated. The new Temple of Antoninus and Faustina to the southeast, erected in the mid-second century CE, stood just outside the main open part of the forum.
The SPQR dedication refers not only to Septimius' foreign conquests, but also obliquely to the defeat of his political rivals, though he did not want to overtly celebrate a triumph for a victory over other Romans. One source records Septimius declined a Parthian triumph claiming ill-health; SHA Sev. 9; 16,6; Simon Swain, Stephen Harrison, Ja's Elsner, Severan Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 202––6. Nevertheless, the honor of the triumph was acknowledged in various events as memorialized in a frieze above the side arches depicting the pompa triumphalis.
The bronze Equus Severi commemorated a dream of Septimius that foretold his succession. In the dream a horse threw off Pertinax and then lifted Septimius on his back; the event took place at the spot where popular assemblies met during the Republic just to the east of the site selected for the arch; Herodian 2.9.6.
The original bronze letters are not extant, but the inscription can be read from the cuttings into the stone; CIL VI.1033, cf. 31230.
Richard Brilliant, The Arch of Septimius Severus in the Roman Forum, Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome 29 (1967); LTUR, vol. 1, 103––5.
Through the location of the arch of Tiberius remains controversial, many follow Coarelli, who identifies it with the buttressing arch between the Temple of Saturn and the Basilica Iulia; Coarelli, LTUR, vol. 1, 107––8. In line with Roman pictorial conventions the arch is depicted frontally on the oration relief from the Arch of Constantine (see Figure 14).
Early scholars argued that stairs and a small open space were cut into the rostra's northern side to provide access after the construction of the Severan arch; Christian Hüülsen, The Roman Forum, Its History and Monuments, trans. Jesse Carter, 2nd ed. (Rome: Loescher, 1906), 62––64. Such an adjustment has been called into question by subsequent excavations; Verduchi, LTUR, vol. 4, 216. The remains of the nearby Umbilicus also seem to date to the Severan period. After the restoration of the central pavement of the forum, Septimius emphasized his reverence for Rome's history by preserving the Augustan-era inscription of L. Naevius Surdinus. On the complex archaeology of the area see Giuliani and Verduchi, L'area centrale, 38––50. The Roman exploitation of architectural design to exclude wheeled traffic is evident at Pompeii where the higher level of the forum prevented vehicles from entering.
SHA Sev. 7; Herodian 4.2; Toynbee, Death and Burial, 59––61.
Many modern sources identify this as the route followed by the Sacra Via after the devastating fire of Nero; Coarelli, LTUR, vol. 2, 227.
A third alternative would have the processional vehicles drive around the Arch of Septimius on the east. The exact configuration of the paving in the area during the Severan age complicates assessment of this route; furthermore, the circumvention of the emperor's arch seems unlikely for symbolic reasons.
The break in the front balustrade of the upper rostra shown on the oration relief on the Arch of Constantine may indicate the position of a temporary stair; Hüülsen, The Roman Forum, 70.
The procession could also have entered the forum north of Caesar's temple and then moved across the front to rejoin the southern street that paralleled the Basilica Iulia, but this route would have omitted passage through the Parthian arch of Augustus.
The parking of processional vehicles (such as those carrying the gifts to the deceased) remains problematic in every scenario. In this case the space behind the rostra was especially tight, compelling the parade participants and vehicles to line up along one of the streets to the east.
Facing southwest, the faççade of the arch was lit by the sun for most of the day, increasing its visual attraction. The triumphal procession has generally been given as the raison d'êêtre for the siting of the arch. The argument is far from secure. The exact entry point of the triumph into the forum is contested. Furthermore, the choreography of the triumph is currently called into question by comprehensive digital reconstructions indicating that the large triumphal retinues could not easily navigate certain spaces such as the arch with steps and the sharp turn onto the Clivus Capitolinus, necessitating a transfer from vehicles to foot transport.
Beneath this was added a second line (IMPP. CAES. SEVERUS ET ANTONINUS PII FELICES AUGG. RESTITUERUNT), which indicates a restoration, probably not extensive, by Severus and Caracalla; CIL VI.938.
Brilliant argued persuasively that the iconographic program on the arch was meant to be read by moving around the structure beginning at the south corner facing the forum; Arch of Septimius, 169, 220––50.
The familiar left to right narrative of the triumphal register as well as the larger relief panels encouraged viewers to move their gaze toward the north.
Regarding the dynastic emphasis of Severan architecture in Rome see Susann Lusnia, "Urban Planning and Sculptural Display in Severan Rome: Reconstructing the Septizodium and Its Role in Dynastic Politics," American Journal of Archaeology 108, no. 3 (Oct. 2004), 534.
Brilliant, Arch of Septimius, 87––88; LTUR, vol. 1, 104. The new Severan arch directly faced another monument spanning the road between the Basilica Aemilia and the Temple of Divus Iulius; this arched structure remains controversial, identified either as part of the Porticus Gaii et Lucii or, less convincingly, as Augustus's Parthian arch; Richardson, New Topographical Dictionary, 313; Filippo Coarelli, Il Foro Romano II (Rome: Edizioni Quasar 1985), 269––308.
Dies Imperii of Trajan: CIL VI.42––44; official date of the Parthian Triumph of Septimius Severus: Feriale duranum col. 1, lines 14––16.
For the name and date see, Suet. Aug. 100.4; for the name alone see, Strabo 5.3.9; cf. Mart. 2.59.2. On the mausoleum and funeral of Augustus see Price, "From Noble Funerals," 67––70.
Penelope J. E. Davies, Death and the Emperor: Roman Imperial Funerary Monuments, from Augustus to Marcus Aurelius (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 49––67.
The funerary associations of commemorative arches in or near the forum have been noted by scholars; Karl Lehmann-Hartleben, "L'Arco di Tito," Bullettino della Commissione archeologica del Governatorato di Roma 62 (1934), 107––11.
Davies, Death, 32––34.
Cornelius Vermeule speculated that the arch of Septimius was intended as a dynastic funerary monument with chambers to house the deceased; "Review of The Arch of Septimius Severus in the Roman Forum by Richard Brilliant," American Journal of Archaeology 72, no. 3 (July 1968), 296. The roughly finished surfaces and difficult access of the chambers probably precludes such an interpretation.
Viewing platforms in commemorative columns and arches were only accessible by narrow stairs that passed by or through interior chambers possibly holding valuables. This, as well as the lack of wear, indicates these belvederes must have been used only occasionally by privileged viewers. Regarding the Column of Marcus Aurelius, a construction date after the emperor's death indicates a funerary association; Aur. Vict. Caes. 16; Davies, Death, 42––48.
Significantly, images of the Arch of Septimius Severus on coins emphasize the balustrade thus reinforcing the significance of the walkway; BM Coins, Rom. Emp. 5.216n.320; RIC 4.124 no. 259.
The great bronze sculptures on top of the arch may have been so large as to obscure the pediment of the temple of Concord depending on their form and scale, and on the exact height of the temple.
The artists working for Constantine, the first Christian emperor, may have purposely omitted the temples from this depiction of the forum.
Richard Bayliss, "Archaeological Survey and Visualization: The View from Byzantium," in Theory and Practice in Late Antique Archaeology, ed. Luke Lavan and William Bowden (Leiden: Brill, 2003), 288.