Building Projects - Early Roman Empire

Building Projects

Art & Architecture: Creating Imperial Rome

‘I found Rome of clay; I leave it to you cloaked in marble’ (Suet 28) (Dio 56.30) although Dio says he is not literally talking about building

Domitian did do a lot of rebuilding after fires but always put his own name rather than that of the original builder (Suet 5)

This topic can be split up into different groups of buildings: Public Facilities, Temples and Fora, Victory Monuments, Buildings for Public Entertainment and Leisure and Palaces.

Public Facilities:

  • Strabo says the Romans had better foresight than the Greeks in building practical things, he praises the aqueducts saying that ‘veritable rivers’ flow through the city
  • Roads as well – Aug rebuilt Flaminian Road (Suet 32)(Res Gestae)
  • Aqua Julia built by Agrippa in 33 BC and expanded by Aug 11-4 BC
  • In the Res Gestae Aug mentions that he repaired aqueducts that had fallen into disrepair and also double the capacity of the Marcia aqueduct
  • Suet says Claudius’ public works that were ‘great and essential’ and mentions his completion of Gaius’ aqueduct, the harbour at Ostia, and the Claudian aqueduct (Claudius 20)
  • The Claudian aqueduct was begun by Claudius between 38 to 52 AD, repaired by Ves in 71 AD and Titus in 81 AD
  • Nero created new regulations for buildings to ward against fires (Suet 16) even erecting porches at his own cost

Temples and Fora:

  • The Forum of Julius Caesar was the first imperial forum, it included a temple to Venus and wasn't completed till after his death
  • Pantheon, built by Agrippa (finished in either 27 or 25 BC), it’s not entirely clear who it is for, it had statues of Agrippa and Aug inside. It was later restored by Domitian after it had been burned in 80 AD
  • The Forum of Augustus included a temple to mars the avenger that he had promised during the battle of Phillipi, construction began in 20 BC and was open incomplete in 2 BC (Suet 29) (Res Gestae)
  • Temple of Apollo, built by Augustus on section of his land that was struck by lightning, dedicated 9th October 28 BC (Suet 29)(Res Gestae)
  • Temple of Jupiter on the Capitol, restored by Aug 26 BC (‘works involving great expense I rebuilt without any inscription of my own name’ (Res Gestae)), burned by Vitellius’ supporters in 69 AD and rebuilt by Vespasian (Suet (8) says he carried away some of the debris on his own head) then burned again in 80 AD and restored by Domitian (Suet (5) mentions Domitian rebuilding things)
  • Res Gestae – rebuilt 82 temples

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