Not the kind of post I planned for this site. These photos are not intended to be part of my portfolio. Still, it is a subject that I find worth an image.
On a recent visit to Rome (images will no doubt appear here in due course) I passed several times by the Lago di Torre Argentina: a city-block-sized excavation ordered by Mussolini in 1926. It contains the remains of four temples dating from the 4th to the 1st century BCE that backed-onto the Theater of Pompey, constructed after 61 BCE.
Pompey (‘The Great‘), who at one time was one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the Republican Senate and Caesar’s ally-of-convenience in a sort of three-way dictatorship, built the massive and beautiful amphitheater as a gift to Rome, and to remind everyone of his military victories in the East (models and images of the theater).
It was just the sort of gesture that Emperors in the following centuries would use to display their power and wealth. At the time when Pompey proposed it, there was a ban on massive civic construction inside the City, so he built it just outside the walls, incorporating both a new temple to “Victorious Venus” — to give his theater a ‘sacred’ character — and these older temples at the end of the courtyard attached to the theater.
Also at the end of the courtyard, Pompey constructed a “Curia”: a tall, rectangular building suitable for meetings: specifically, meetings of the Roman Senate. It was there, on 15 March, 44 BCE (the Ides of March), that the plotters stabbed an unwary Julius Caesar to death, at the foot of a huge statue of Pompey — killed four years earlier in Egypt fleeing from his military defeat by Caesar.
I have annotated the image of the Lago di Torre Argentina to indicate the approximate location of the Curia — destroyed by fire in ancient times and by demolition in the centuries since . Click on either of the images to see a larger view.