The Roman Forum
It is the ides of March, March 15, 44 BC, a crucial day in Roman history, the day in which the man who had extended the borders of Rome from Gaul to Egypt, the man praised unconditionally by the people who celebrate him almost as a god on earth, Julius Cesar gets barbarously assassinated at the hand of a group of senators. They accuse him of having undermined the institution of the Republic, of having betrayed Rome for vanity. His violent end, upon the luxurious marbles of the Senate house of Pompey directly under the statue of the same, has passed through history to become a symbol, myth, and a legend. Retracing the last of day of Julius Cesar through the streets of Rome, and his historical context strongly marked by the influx of riches and ideas from the conquered territories, and by his life-long conquest of power among the political forces of the time, we will take you into the culture, the dwellings, and the daily life of the people of the greatest metropolis of antiquity. In the great Piazza (or square) of the Forum, where Cesar's body was cremated after the funeral orations of many senators including Brutus and Marc Anthony, which unleashed a long civil war, you too will participate in these and other crucial happenings of Rome's history. Among the other figures you will encounter will be Cicero and Catilina, the emperor Augustus and famous successors such as Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, Commodus, Caracalla, and Constantine. These magical places preserve a tangible memory of events in the form and imprint of the actual spaces, so for example, here on the Via Sacra the stone blocks carry the imprint of the ruts from the metal carriage wheels that passed down this street, and on the steps of the Basilica Julia there are the engraved traces of ancient game boards.
By way of such important sites as the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, the Arch of Titus, the Arch of Septimius Severus, the Basilica of Maxentius, the Senate, the House and the Temple of the Vestal Virgins, the Temple of Saturn, the Temple of the Divine Julius, and all the other major sites, we will immerse you in the political and religious rituals of ancient Rome and the surprising development of its empire that extended, by the end of the first century AD, from Africa to the North of England, and from Spain to Turkey, bringing together in Rome merchandise, techniques, ideas, and wonders never-yet-seen. More specifically, in this great and suggestive puzzle of imposing ruins of successive eras, one of the fundamental aspects of our guided visit will be to show how the original buildings, in their form, function, and meaning were integral to the Roman system of laws, institutions, and religious practices.
After stopping at the Arch of Constantine, with its relief sculpture taken and readapted from various earlier eras, we will enter the Colosseum and rediscover one of the most enigmatic and cruel aspects of Roman history. We will elaborate on the construction techniques, the original structure and its decoration, the organization of the gladiator games and the manner in which they took place following the various phases of collective delirium in a full day at the arena. We will likewise dedicate our attention to understanding who were these gladiators and how they were trained. We will consider the social and propagandistic roles that these widespread and nearly unanimously accepted spectacles of death played in the complex multicultural society of the time. Here, too, we will deal with unusual aspects of our subject, such as for example, the love stories, well documented by the writers of the time, that blossomed within the arena, and the religious origins of the games that date back to the Etruscan culture with its earliest celebrations held in the great square of the Forum. The successive phases of the Colosseum, while hard to imagine, nonetheless have left visible traces of the years of abandonment, pillaging of materials for reuse, and modern recuperation that will complete our exclusive journey into the world of the gladiators.
For a complete visit of the city we recommend our Vatican Museums and Saint Peter's Basilica private tour and our Underground Rome private tour.