Italian History IV: Hail, Caesar!

Celtic gold-plated bronze disc from Auvers-sur-Oise, Val-d'Oise, dated to early 4th century BC; on display at the Cabinet des Médailles of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, Italian History IV: Hail, Caesar!, Italy, Italy (Photo by Gun Powder Ma)
Celtic gold-plated bronze disc from Auvers-sur-Oise, Val-d'Oise, dated to early 4th century BC; on display at the Cabinet des Médailles of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, Greek art in Italy (500 BC–300 BC), General

Julius Caesar and the rise of the Roman Empire

At the end of the 2C BC, the Republic, sped along by a corrupt Senate, was corroding into near-collapse.

Julius Caesar—successful general, skilled orator, and shrewd politician—stepped in to help maintain control over Rome’s vast territories, but from the day Caesar declared himself “dictator for life,” Rome, as a Republic, was finished. After sharing governmental power with others in a series of Triumvirates, Caesar became the sole Consul in 44 BC.

Caesar rose in popular influence partly by endearing himself to the lower classes through a lifelong fight against the corrupt Senate. As his power crested, he forced many immoral senators to flee Rome, introduced social reforms, inaugurated the first of many new public building programs in the center of Rome (still visible as the Forum of Caesar), and added Gaul (France) to the dying Republic.

But Caesar’s emphasis on the plebians and their concerns (as well as his own thirst for power) did little to endear him to the old guard of patricians and senators. On March 15, 44 BC, Caesar strolled out of the Baths of Pompey to meet Brutus, Cassius, and other “friends” who lay in wait with daggers hidden beneath their togas.

Caesar left everything to his nephew and heir, the 18-year-old Octavian. From the increasingly irrelevant Senate, Octavian eventually received the title Augustus Caesar, and from the people, lifetime tribuneship.

And so Octavian became Emperor Augustus, sole ruler of Rome and most of the Western world.

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Roman in Italy

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Forum Romanum, Roman Architecture, from History of Architecture (Fletcher) pg 127 (Photo by Sir Banister Flight Fletcher)

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Ancient in Italy

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Celtic gold-plated bronze disc from Auvers-sur-Oise, Val-d'Oise, dated to early 4th century BC; on display at the Cabinet des Médailles of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris (Photo by Gun Powder Ma)

Greek colonies settled the Sicilian and Southern Italian coasts well before the Romans

 
Forum Romanum, Roman Architecture, from History of Architecture (Fletcher) pg 127 (Photo by Sir Banister Flight Fletcher)

The great Roman architectural innovations were the load-bearing arch and the use of concrete, brick, and stone

 

Where to find the best ancient Roman sculpture, mosaics, and frescoes in Italy

 

The art of early Christians was Roman in style, but its themes were starting to explore the figures and motifs that would soon become familiar

 

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The columns of the Basilica Ulpia backed by Trajan's Column (and a pair of baroque church domes— Santa Maria di Loreto on the left and Santissimo Nome di Maria on the right) in the Forum of Trajan, part of Rome's Imperial Fori (Photo by Ade Russell)
Trajan's Forum
Rome: Downtown Ancient Rome

The Forum of Trajan's is home to Trajan's Column, a massive carved marble comic strip of the emperors accomplishments

 
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 (Photo by Damian Entwistle)
Tomb of Cecilia Metella
Rome: Outside the walls

This ancient Roman tomb on Rome's Via Appia Antica became a headquarters of papal-endorsed highway robbery in the Middle Ages

 
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Villa Melzi
Bellagio

A neoclassical villa and gardens

 
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An arch from the Stadium of Domitian visible from the street (Via di Tor Sanguigna) (Photo by Lalupa)
Stadio di Domiziano
Rome: Tiber Bend

The ancient Stadium of Domitian echoed by Piazza Navona above

 
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 (Photo by Mikhail Malykh)
Forum of Augustus
Rome: Downtown Ancient Rome

The Foro di Augusto was built by Augustus Caesar

 
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The Mausoleum of Augustus as it was in 2016 (ongoing works are transforming it so it can open to the public) (Photo by Ethan Doyle White)
Mausoleo di Augusto
Rome: Tridente

The tomb of the emperor Augustus

 
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Base di Tiberio, with personifications of the cities, from Pozzuoli (this museum has a plaster replica; the original's in the Archaeological Museum of Naples) (Photo by Sailko)

The Phlagrean Fields Archaeological Museum in the medieval Castello di Baia castle

 
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The Teatro di Marcello and trio of columns of the Temple of Apollo Sosianus (Photo by Joadl)
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Teatro di Marcello
Rome: Tiber Bend

Marcellus's Theater was the Colosseum 1.0, the original Roman amphitheater

 
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 (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)
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Teatro di Pompeo
Rome: Tiber Bend

The remnants of Pompey's Theater are hidden away in the basement of an unassuming restaurant near Campo de' Fiori

 
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Ancient statues in the Aula Ottagona (Photo by Rene Boulay)
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Aula Ottagona
Rome: Termini train station

The Aula Ottagona is both the most atmospheric branch of Rome's Museo Nazionale Romano and the only one that's admission-free. Sadly, it's usually closed.

 
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Excavations of the Roman Baths (Photo by Lamberto Zannotti)

The Baia archaeological park and other ruins

 
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An arch from the Stadium of Domitian visible from the street (Via di Tor Sanguigna) (Photo by Lalupa)
Stadio di Domiziano
Rome: Tiber Bend

The ancient Stadium of Domitian echoed by Piazza Navona above

 
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The Mausoleum of Augustus as it was in 2016 (ongoing works are transforming it so it can open to the public) (Photo by Ethan Doyle White)
Mausoleo di Augusto
Rome: Tridente

The tomb of the emperor Augustus

 
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Villa Melzi
Bellagio

A neoclassical villa and gardens

 
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A room in the museum (Photo by Filippo Espo)
Museo Correale
Downtown Sorrento

A small, bit-of-everything museum

 
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A view of the Circo Massimo from the FAO headquarters (Photo by Le Mai)
Circus Maximus
Rome: Downtown Ancient Rome

The greatest racing arena in ancient Rome is now a grassy jogging oval and outdoor concert venue

 
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Ancient statues in the Aula Ottagona (Photo by Rene Boulay)
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Aula Ottagona
Rome: Termini train station

The Aula Ottagona is both the most atmospheric branch of Rome's Museo Nazionale Romano and the only one that's admission-free. Sadly, it's usually closed.

 
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The facade (Photo by Rufus46)
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San Francesco
Florence: Fiesole

Fransican church and convent with an early Renaissance altarpiece, Etruscan ruins, and a tiny museum with Chinese and Ancient Egyptian artifacts

 
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The Teatro di Marcello and trio of columns of the Temple of Apollo Sosianus (Photo by Joadl)
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Teatro di Marcello
Rome: Tiber Bend

Marcellus's Theater was the Colosseum 1.0, the original Roman amphitheater

 
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 (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)
Free
Teatro di Pompeo
Rome: Tiber Bend

The remnants of Pompey's Theater are hidden away in the basement of an unassuming restaurant near Campo de' Fiori

 
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A basement dining room inside an ancient Roman hallway (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)
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Da Pancrazio
Rome: Tiber Bend

Dine in the buried arcades of an ancient Roman stadium

 
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 (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)
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Da Giggetto
Rome: Lower Tiber Bend

Great artichokes and other Roman Jewish delicacies surrounded by ancient ruins in Rome's Jewish Ghetto

 
Celtic gold-plated bronze disc from Auvers-sur-Oise, Val-d'Oise, dated to early 4th century BC; on display at the Cabinet des Médailles of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris (Photo by Gun Powder Ma)

Greek colonies settled the Sicilian and Southern Italian coasts well before the Romans

 
Forum Romanum, Roman Architecture, from History of Architecture (Fletcher) pg 127 (Photo by Sir Banister Flight Fletcher)

The great Roman architectural innovations were the load-bearing arch and the use of concrete, brick, and stone

 

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Where to find the best ancient Roman sculpture, mosaics, and frescoes in Italy

 

The art of early Christians was Roman in style, but its themes were starting to explore the figures and motifs that would soon become familiar

 

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