The Republic was a period full of magnificent building. Roman generals and emperors built many temples upon their victories in war. A temple is a structure which was constructed for religious activities like sacrifice and was usually dedicated towards a Roman god, goddess or deity. The Forum of Augustus was home to the Temple of Mars Ultor, one of many important temples of ancient Rome. The Temple of Mars Ultor reflected the vengeance of one of his devoted sons. It was also a symbol of Rome’s true identity and imperial authority, which believed in just war.
Forum of Augustus was home to the Temple of Mars Ultor. Caesar’s Forum was adjacent to the Forum of Augustus. Today it borders Nerva Forum and Trajan Forum. In the sense of being an enclosed piazza, it resembled Caesar’s Forum in its design and style. Augustus’ forum, however, was not like the other existing forums. Augustus constructed the forum to address the daily needs of the city. The Forum of Caesar and Roman Forum couldn’t accommodate them. The forum was actually opened before the temple was completed. The temple, which was located at the eastern end (Fig.3) of the forum, was the only temple within the forum. The forum comprised the temple and porticos of Mars Ultor. A large Augustus statue was also located in front. Today, the temple’s remnants are largely gone. Only a portion of the temple remains, including the steps and some columns. The Battle of Philippi was fought in 42 BC. This battle would determine who would take control of Rome, and eventually end the Roman Republic. It was fought by Marc Antony and Octavian, against Julius Caesar’s assassins, Brutus & Cassius. Octavian was defeated by Brutus in the first battle. Antony beat Caissus in the second. Caissus took his own life after Caissus lost. Brutus now had complete control over the army, but he wasn’t the military leader Caissus was. Brutus again attacked and was defeated. In honor and in revenge of his father’s defeat, Octavian vowed that he would build a temple dedicated to Mars Ultor. The temple was dedicated however in 2 B.C. Augustus did not have the money to complete the temple’s completion, according to some theories.
The Temple of Mars Ultor was built on a tall platform and featured eight columns in Corthinian design at its front. Three of these columns are still standing today. The temple’s design was similar that of Caesar’s Forum’s Temple of Venus. It was however one-half larger. The temple was built from Italian white Luna Marble, which was sourced from Carrara’s quarries. The empire’s imperial wealth and power was evident in the marble quarried throughout the region. Porticoes lining the temple’s sides were used for courtrooms as well as other legal proceedings. The porticoes were curved into two exedras to make them longer. A gallery contained statues from Romulus and Aeneas in the portico and the exedra. The statues resembling Aeneas followed were those of the ancestors from the Julian clan. After the statues attributed to Romulus were other statues indicating the greatness of men during the Republic’s time. Each statue contained an inscription which stated what each individual had accomplished for Rome.
Many artifacts brought from East were also kept in the temple’s walls, which served as reminders of Rome’s many political and military victories. The temple also had cult-statues. The statue of Mars, war god, is in the center. To his left, we see Venus holding Eros, her son, the sword most likely Mars. This gesture signifies peace after a just war. Venus’ presence suggests that Caesar and Augustus are descended from Venus. The statue of Mars can be seen to the right. It is believed that this statue is of Julius Caesar. Tiberius might have also added two arches along each side to the temple in honor of his two sons, Drusus Younger and Germanicus.
The forum and temple were both used to serve many functions for Rome. Augustus directed the Senate to meet at the temple for conferring on declarations, war claims and triumphs.
He also stated that governors should leave the temple to embark on war. The temple was also where triumph tokens would be kept after the generals return. The temple also served as the venue for ceremonial events such as the ceremony where young Roman boys received their togas. The temple and forum hosted many legal proceedings as well as festivals. The forum was especially used to glorify Augustus’ lineage.
Augustus made Rome stronger by creating magnificent monuments, public buildings, and beautiful temples that supported his values. The Forum of Augustus was a prime example of this. Forum was the central point of the roman nation identity. It demonstrated the unfaltering loyalty Augustus felt to Julius Caesar, his adoptive father, and also to Rome. The magnificence and power of Augustus and his influence over Rome can be seen in the temple. This was evident in the huge statuary that can be found in the temple, its size, and the quality and quantity of the material used in building the temple. The Temple of Mars Ultor reflected the vengeance of an devoted son. It was also a symbol of Rome’s true identity and imperial authority.