Iulius Divus, Aedes was a temple that the Romans built in honor of the deified Julius Caesar. The triumvirs commissioned the temple in 42BC, with the construction of the temple being completed in 29BC, the year when the temple was completed. After Caesar’s death, the Romans burnt his body at the Eastern end of their forum, where an altar and forum were immediately erected. Later, the Romans removed the altar and column and replaced them with the temple. The temple has since collapsed, with only large sections of the high podium remaining. Archeologists and historians have come up with reconstructions of the temple based on ancient Roman coins that bore its image (Iulius Divus, Aedes 1).
The Temple of Caesar was a superstructure that featured the prostyle and hexastyle designs. The temple’s portico had six standing columns that were closely spaced to each other. Archeological findings have led scholars to argue that the temple had an ionic portico, an issue that was initially unclear after ancient Roman coins had suggested that it was either ionic or composite (Coulston and Dodge 203). The Temple’s Roman ornamentation was also evident in its entablature and cornice, which had roses and modillions structure (Coulston and Dodge 203). Apart from these features, the constructors of the Temple of Caesar appear to have adopted a minimalist approach towards the building, when designing other areas within the temple such as the sides and the rear. While the temple’s portico features significant ornamentation, the other sides feature little decorations. Digital reconstructions of the temple place a staircase at its front, acting as the main entrance to the building. Apart from the staircase and front opening, the Temple of Caesar appears to have had no other entrance. Lastly, archeologists state that the Romans constructed the Temple of Caesar using marble and stone as the main materials.
The Romans constructed the temple towards the East end of their forum, surrounded by other temples and shrines. They built the temple on the exact location where they burnt Caesar’s body after his death after removing the altar and column that stood there in his honor. The Temple was built facing the forum, an open space that served a civic purpose, with the Romans recognizing it as the symbolic center of Rome. Towards the temple’s right was the basilica aemilia, a structure that housed several shops (Iulius Divus, Aedes 1). On the temple’s immediate left was another place of worship, Castor, Aedes. The Castor, Aedes was a Roman temple that housed the cult of Castor and Pollux, who were both revered Roman heroes. A smaller structure was located between Caesar’s temple and that housing the cult of Castor and Pollux. This structure was an arch honoring the emperor Augustus. Behind the Temple of Caesar were two small structures (Iulius Divus, Aedes 1). One was a shrine that some sources deemed to be the home of the king and another was a temple that housed the cult of the goddess Vesta. Opposite the structure, on the other side of the forum, were three additional temples, dedicated to the god Saturn, emperors Vespasian and Titus and Concord (Iulius Divus, Aedes 1).
Digital reconstructions are valuable tools for explaining the ancient world. Over the years, human conflict, neglect and force majeure have worn down the archeology of the ancient world. This has left the modern world to try to figure out the shapes and designs of these structures from historical artifacts such as ancient coins, writings and sculptures. Reconstructions such as those on the Digital Roman Forum are a useful tool for understanding the ancient world because they combine the information derived from the historical artifacts in one location. This makes it easier for people in the modern world to determine various issues concerning the past. For instance, the reconstruction of the Temple of Caesar shows that Julius Caesar was a figure that the Romans revered. This is evident through issues such as the size of his temple and its location. When compared to structures that the Romans dedicated to the goddess Vesta and Emperor Augustus, Caesar’s temple appears much larger in comparison, implying that the Romans may have held him in higher regard. The reconstructions also help increase our understanding of Roman society. For instance, the Romans constructed many important temples and shrines around the forum. This suggests that the forum was the focal point of their society and a space that they deemed to be important. This implication matches other views that historians have of the ancient Roman society being organized and having a lot of respect for the rule of law. The reconstructions of Rome allude to this importance by placing the forum in the middle of the city.
Reconstructions such as those found in the Digital Roman Forum make crucial contributions to our understanding of the ancient world. Through the website’s reconstruction of the Temple of Caesar, users are able to learn about Roman architecture and the way in which they organized their city. The reconstruction and its comparison to other structures, in terms of location and prestige, also make various allusions to issues such as the different people that the Romans held in high regard and the areas they deemed most important in their city
Iulius Divus, Aedes – 400AD. Digital Roman Forum. University of California, 2005. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.
Coulston, Jon and Hazel Dodge. Ancient Rome: The Archeology of the Eternal City. Oxford: Oxford University School of Archeology, 2000. Print
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