After a long journey that crossed the extent of the old empire from Britannia and across the Land of the Gauls, I finally stand within the walls of the Roman capital. Weaving across the Via Sacra, bumped and jostled as I crane my head to see the majesty that was Rome. Behind me is the Temple of Vespasian, a small edifice for this great emperor that Domitian squeezed into the space between the Tabularium and the Temple of Saturn.
Down this road Caesar marched in triumph before being declared Dictator of Rome, and set the way for the Republic to become an Empire after the turmoil of his assignation. His temple stands at the centre of the Forum signifying his central role in Roman history, so great a leader his successors took his name to connect their reign with Julius Caesar’s legacy.
In front of me, the Rostra where Rome’s famous orators delivered their great speeches. I can almost see Marc Antony striding to the platform from the Curia, his words protecting Caesar’s memory in death as he protected his friend’s body in battle.
Next to the Temple of Julius Caesar is the Temple of Vesta and the living quarters of Rome’s Vestal Virgins; their sacred duty to maintain the eternal flame in the Temple. I feel Roman standing at the sacred centre of the capital looking up the Via Sacra towards the Arch of Titus and the great Temple of Venus and Roma.
Listening I hear accents from the far reaches of the globe, people drawn to Rome like me to see the city that brought forth the modern world. Can they imagine their lives without the technology of their Roman rulers?
The parchment ends with this intriguing question but did he imagine that the great Roman Empire would collapse under the weight of its own expanse and the incompetence of emperors unfit to bear the title Caesar. Roman advances in technology and art forgotten, their great structures quarried for raw materials and society reverted to subsistence levels for centuries. The Forum continues to draw travellers from across the world. Come join us and marvel at Rome.