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107. The Roman Forums. A tour through Beauty and Mystery.

Updated: Mar 22, 2020

By Giulio D'Ercole -

Walking downtown Rome, going through narrow alleys and magnificent squares, then, finally reaching the Roman Forums and finding yourself confronting the ancient remains of the place where history had been made for centuries.....This is what it means taking a Rome by Day, Beauty and History Photo Tour. But it even more what it means, is to learn how to photograph those two thousand years old incredible structures in creative ways, playing around with light, shadows, shapes and lines. In fact, thanks to the workshop given during the tour by your photo tutor Giulio D'Ercole, you'll be able to shoot photos that will capture in an original way, the essence of your subjects. So, when you'll be back home, you will not have a photo album made by mere postcards, but rather by true personal photos.

The photo here below portraits the "Rostri (in Latin "Rostra"), a platform where the consuls spoke. Little to see, but wonderful to think this is how it was before. In fact the Rostra was a large platform built in the city of Rome that stood during the republican and imperial periods. Speakers would stand on the rostra and face the north side of the comitium towards the senate house and deliver orations to those assembled in between. It is often referred to as a suggestus or tribunal, the first form of which dates back to the Roman Kingdom.

It derives its name from the six rostra (plural of rostrum, a warship's ram) which were captured during the victory at Antium in 338 BC and mounted to its side.... the very same place, Anzio, where the American Army landed on January 22nd, 1944, during WWII.

Originally, the term meant a single structure located within the Comitium space near the Forum and usually associated with the SenateCūria. It began to be referred to as the Rostra Vetera ("Elder Rostra") in the imperial age to distinguish it from other later platforms designed for similar purposes which took the name "Rostra" along with its builder's name or the person it honored.

Until about 145 BC, the Comitium was the site for tribal assemblies (comitia tributa) at which important decisions were taken, magistrates were elected and criminal prosecutions were presented and resolved by tribal voting.

But things were not always as "civilized". During the late Republic the rostra was actually also used as a place to display the heads of defeated political enemies. Gaius Marius and consul Lucius Cornelius Cinna captured Rome in 87 BC and placed the head of the defeated consul, Gnaeus Octavius, on the Rostra. The practice was continued by Sulla and Mark Antony, who ordered that Cicero's hands and head be displayed on Caesar's Rostra after the orator's execution as part of the Proscription of 43 BC.]

Caesar spoke from the Rostra in 67 BC in a successful effort to pass, over the opposition of the Senate, a bill proposed by the tribune Aulus Gabinius (the lex Gabinia) creating an extraordinary command for Pompey to eliminate piracy in the Mediterranean. Brutus and Cassius spoke from the Rostra to an unenthusiastic crowd in the Forum after the assassination of Caesar in 44 BC. Millar comments that during the late Republic, when violence became a regular feature of public meetings, physical control and occupation of the Rostra became a crucial political objective.

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