Forum is the center of religious, cultural and political life of
the ancient Pompeii. It contained some of the most beautiful
buildings in the city. The
Forum of Pompeii was originally the central open space in the settlement. The
city spread and grew in size. By the time of the eruption it was located
in the South- West corner of the settlement. It measured 157 meters by
38 meters. It was lined by commercial, public and religious buildings
important in the daily lives of common Roman citizens.
The central plaza
was lined by two rows of Doric colonnade. The bottom row consisted of Doric
columns, while the top row was lined by Ionic columns. Additionally
there were several statues that graced this important part of the city.
Unfortunately many of them were destroyed by an earlier earthquake of 62
AD and were never rebuild. The only thing that reminds of their former
existence are pedestals that were left abandoned.
Two main entrances
were located at the north of the plaza with two triumphal arches. The
bigger eastern arch was dedicated to Germanicus, step son of emperor
Tiberius who made his name by defeating Germanic tribes in 12AD just few
years after these tribes under leadership of Arminius dealt a
humiliating blow to the Roman Empire by exterminating three Roman
legions under leadership of Publius Quinctilius Varus in Teutoburg
Temple of Jupiter and Arch of Germanicus (in the back)
The Temple of Jupiter (Roman version of Greek god Zeus) was the central
temple in Pompeii. Although it venerated the highest god in the
pantheon of Latin pagan gods, it was also a site of worship for Juno
(Roman version of Greek goddess Hera) and Minerva (Athens). Statues of
gods were added during the reign of Sulla (80s BC). Only a few
fragments of statues dedicated to these deities have survived.
Since main temple of the Pompeii forum was used to worship three
gods, it is sometimes called the Temple of the Capitoline Triad.
The construction of this temple became an important symbol of the
fact that the Roman god Jupiter began to replace the cult of Apollo,
who was the central deity in Pompeii before the Romans captured it.
Pompeii was occupied by the Romans, beginning in 310 BC.
Nevertheless, he retained most of his autonomy until the Italian
uprising against Rome at the beginning of the 1st century BC struck.
In the year 89, the city was besieged by Sulla, who was able to
capture Pompeii. Latin language, Roman culture and law soon began to
dominate the city and its culture. The architecture of the city was
largely formed by the Greeks, but Roman rule soon led to changes in
this style. Unlike the previous Greek and Samnite architecture,
which built little public buildings or had rather modest open
forums, the Romans strongly believed in the importance of
architecture in religious and civilian life. Pompeii has been turned
into a much more public and open space. Public buildings and spaces
began to dominate in the city during the roman rule.
The Temple of Jupiter was built in the 2nd century BC (about 150
BC) around the time when the Temple of Apollo was repaired.
Population of Pompeii increased it at the beginning of the 1st
century during the reign of the Roman emperor Tiberius. The podium
that serves as the foundation for the temple of Jupiter has
dimensions of 37 meters by 17 meters and a height of 3 meters. A
double staircase that led to a portico supported by five columns in
depth and 6 columns in width. The cella or interior was divided into
three parts by two rows of columns of ionic and Corinthian
architectural styles. The side aisles were very narrow. The original
wall decor consisted of frescoes of the first style on artificial
marble. Later during the reign of Sulla (1st century BC) the walls
were covered with frescoes of the second style.
Jupiter housed statues of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. The head of
Jupiter is still kept in the ruins of the temple. The floor is lined
with diamond-shaped stone boards, creating the effect of bulk cubes.
The basement served as the treasury of the temple. The building was
heavily damaged by an earthquake of 62 years, but was partially
repaired during the reconstruction of the Pompeii forum. At the time
of the eruption, the temple of Jupiter was still being repaired. The
much smaller Temple of Asclepius, or the Temple of Jupiter,
Meilihios, became the main place of worship for Jupiter and the
Capitoline Triad during that period. The original Temple of Jupiter
was still waiting for restoration when Mount Vesuvius awoke in 79,
burying the city of Pompeii under a layer of volcanic dust, ash and
pumice. The excavated temple can still be seen in Pompeii today.
Triumphal Arch of the Pompeii Forum
At the northern side of
the Pompeii Forum, temple of Jupiter is flanked by two triumphal
arches. On the west side of the Temple of Jupiter stood the
triumphal arch of Germanicus. General Germanicus was an adopted son
of Emperor Tiberius and the father of Emperor Caligula. This Roman
general gained wide popularity by defeating the Germanic tribes in
the 12 AD. This happened in retaliation for the massacre in the
Teutoburg Forest, when Germanic tribes, under the command of Chief
Arminius, destroyed three Roman legions under the leadership of
Publius Quentilius Varus in 9 AD.
On the east side of the
temple once stood a triumphal arch, which was demolished, so that
the third triumphal arch was better visible from the Forum. That
arch was dedicated to the emperor Tiberius. In his niches, turned to
the Pompeii forum, stood the statues of Drusus and the emperor Nero.
Temple of Apollo (Tempio di Apollo) (Pompeii Forum)
Temple of Apollo was originally constructed by the Etruscans in the 5th
century BC. It was established from remnants of Etruscan fragments with
a dedication to various gods. Although the first altars in the
open air stood on Pompeii Forum from the 8th century BC.
Although Apollo was a Greek god, the influence of Greek
colonists spread far beyond their homeland. In particular, the
Etruscans took Apollo for their own, changing the name to Apulu.
The rest remains unchanged.
Over a course of centuries the size and layout of the shrine
changed repeatedly. Much of the layout you see today on Pompeii Forum date back to the
2nd century BC. It was built by the Samnites under the direction of a
questor Oppius Kompanus, as evidenced by the inscription on one of
the stones found here. Together with the Doric temple, the Temple of
Apollo is one of the most ancient temples of the city and one of the
oldest in this region of Italy. Apollo was considered the patron
saint of commerce and therefore for the inhabitants of Pompeii this
god had an important role. He was considered the patron saint of
Pompeii. In fact, for many centuries it was the most important
temple in the city. Only with the arrival of the Romans, the cult of
Jupiter became dominant, and the temple of Jupiter became the center
of religious and political life. During the reign of Emperor
Augustus, sports games were held dedicated to the god Apollo, known
as Ludi Apollinarians.
The temple was badly damaged by an earthquake in 62 AD
so it was reconstructed shortly before final destruction of Pompeii. A
bronze statue of god Apollo was places on pedestal on an Eastern side.
It is copy since the original was moved to a museum. Sun dial in front
of the temple helped residents of Pompeii to track the movement
of sun driven by god Apollo across the sky in his chariot.
The Temple of Apollo stands at a slight angle relative to
the entire Forum of Pompeii, since during construction the
streets were laid at a slightly different angle. During the
Roman period, walls were erected around the temple of Apollo
and separated it from the rest of the Pompeii Forum. The
walls of the sanctuary were built using bricks. What we see
today is only rough masonry, but the walls and floors were
originally covered with veneer made of fine marble. The
whole temple was surrounded by a colonnade of 28 columns
made of tuff from the city of Nozer. Columns were toped with
Ionic capitals, which were replaced by plaster columns with
Corinthian capitals painted in yellow, red and dark blue.
Today, only two columns are completely preserved, but the
paint has been lost. The remaining columns fell during an
earthquake that accompanied the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
The inner walls had niches painted with scenes from the
The bronze statue of the god Apollo
stands on a pedestal on the east side of the courtyard in
front of the temple. This is a copy of the original, which
was transferred to the museum. The courtyard also had
statues of Venus, Hermaphrodite, Hermes and a bust of
Artemis with a bow.
Pompeii Basilica (Pompeii Forum)
Basilica is a
civil and political building of Pompeii that stood on the Western side of
the Pompeii Forum. It was constructed somewhere between 120 BC and 80
BC. It is quite possible this is the first basilica of this type
in the entire Roman Empire. By the way, the first Christian
churches were basilicas and they were built in this
architectural style for many centuries. Therefore, the early
Byzantine churches looked like the basilica of Pompeii. An
example of such a structure can be found for example in the city
of Nessebar in
Pompeii Basilica measures 24 meters by 64 meters.
Most of Pompeii Basilica did not survive, however remains of the
building indicate that it was a peristyle lined by 28 Corinthian
columns. The depths of the basilica had two-story "tribunal" or
the Court. It rises just above the level of the head and has six
Corinthian columns along the whole front. Initially Basilica served as a market, but in the first
century AD it was turned into a city court. The interior of the
walls are covered by numerous graffiti. One of them claim: "O
walls, you have held up so much tedious graffiti that I am
amazed that you have not already collapsed in ruin.".
Other graffiti and writings in the Pompeii basilica include:
If you are able, but not willing, why do you put off our joy
and kindle hope and tell me always to come back tomorrow.
So, force me to die since you force me to live without you.
Your gift will be to stop torturing me. Certainly, hope
returns to the lover what it has once snatched away.
Phileros is a eunuch! Let everyone in love come and see.
I want to break Venus’ ribs with clubs and cripple the
goddess’ loins. If she can strike through my soft chest,
then why can’t I smash her head with a club? Chie, I hope
your hemorrhoids rub together so much that they hurt worse
than when they ever have before! Epaphra, you are bald!
Caesius faithfully loves M[…name lost] A small problem
gets larger if you ignore it. Auge loves Allotenus. No
young buck is complete until he has fallen in love. Gaius
Pumidius Dipilus was here on October 3rd 78 BC. Pyrrhus
to his colleague Chius: I grieve because I hear you have
died; and so farewell. Take hold of your servant girl
whenever you want to; it’s your right. Samius to
Cornelius: go hang yourself! Lucius Istacidius, I regard
as a stranger anyone who doesn’t invite me to dinner. The
man I am having dinner with is a barbarian. Virgula to
her friend Tertius: you are disgusting! The one who
buggers a fire burns his penis. Epaphra is not good at
ball games. Love dictates to me as I write and Cupid
shows me the way, but may I die if god should wish me to go
on without you. Sarra, you are not being very nice,
leaving me all alone like this.
Pompeii basilica differs from many other buildings in
Pompeii by its proportions in that the main entrance is on
the short side with a view of the forum, and not on the more
traditional long side. As a result, the tribunal (the
elevation on which the masters sat) is located on the short
rear wall, on the axis with the entrance. The entrance has
five doorways, one on each side of the portico and one
between each pair of columns.
In addition to the main
entrance, the Basilica also has two side entrances on Via
Marina or Maritime Street and Vikolo di Championnet
The interior has a central nave and two side rows. The
central square is surrounded on four sides by twenty-eight
large brick columns. A number of Ionic semi-columns are
located on the walls of the basilica at half the height.
Between the columns the side walls are covered with plaster
and painted with frescoes with the characteristic of the
Many fragments of Corinthian columns of
the same diameter were found near the north wall. The
building was illuminated by light that fell between the
columns. At the western end of the tribunal were located
adjacent symmetrical rooms. The raised stand is surrounded
by six Corinthian columns. Above the tribunes was the upper
row of half-columns, which served as a frame for rectangular
The basilica played an important role in
both the civil and commercial life of Pompeii. Not only was
justice administered here, but it was also the center of the
commercial life of the city.
Temple of the Lares Publici (Pompeii Forum)
Temple of the Lares Publici is located south of Macellum on
the east side of the Forum of Pompeii. Temple of the Lares Publici was constructed after the earthquake of 62
AD and was intended as a sanctuary for the state Lares and the deified
Emperor Augustus. Lares are the ancient Roman statues of gods,
patrons of the family or in this case entire city of Pompeii.
Similar altars were found in many houses around Pompeii.
Temple of the Lares Publici measures 18
by 21 metres and was dedicated to deified emperor Octavian Augustus.
Lares is the ancient Roman statues of gods, patrons of the
family or in this case entire Pompeii. Altar for sacrifices
stood in the middle of the temple. This building was an open
area on the east side of the Forum of Pompeii with a central
altar, where sacrifices were made. Today, much of the interior
of the Temple of Lares Publici is lost.
The walls of the sanctuary were built of brickwork, covered with
plaster and colorful frescoes. However, all the decorations today
have collapsed. Today, much of the interior of the Temple of the Lares Publici
is lost. What we see today is only rough masonry, but the walls and
floors were originally covered with pieces of fine marble. The
building itself consists of a large, unequipped courtyard with a
large apse occupying most of the back wall. In the center of the
apse there was a socle in height up to 1.8 meters, on which stood a
shrine with a pedestal for three statues. On the north and south
side of the square there are two alys in which the statues stood on
a pedestal. Two entrances were surrounded by pilasters on the sides,
and they were divided by two columns.
Municipal Offices (Pompeii Forum)
terms Aedil (Latin aedilis; from aedes - the temple) - in
ancient times, one of the colleges of the city councils of Rome.
Duumviri or Duoviri - two persons to whom the state jointly
entrusted care of the city.
Municipal Offices of Pompeii forum
are three small buildings in the Southern part of the Pompeii forum. They were
built after 62 AD earthquake on a site of older municipal buildings that
served the same purpose. At the time of the eruption, only the building
of duumviri (most eastern) was completed. These state order
implied that they were in charge of the finances of Pompeii as
well as its judges. Two other buildings did not have both
internal and external decoration.
All three buildings are similar in structure
and layout. Each room had niches and an apse. The walls were lined with
marble and painted with frescoes. Additionally the interior of the
buildings had several statues. Western building was intended for two
aediles. Their duties included maintaining the order in Pompeii, as well
as enforcement of rules of the town market. The central building was
part of the Curia and was intended to hold the meeting of the Municipal
Council (Ordo Decurionum). East Building was intended for duumvirs. By
the time of the eruption only the interior of the Eastern building was
completed. Duumvirs served as judges and also managed finances of
Pompeii. Therefore, immediately after the earthquake of 62 AD the city
began reconstruction of their offices right away.
Macellum (Pompeii Forum)
Macellum was the main food market for the residents of Pompeii and
surrounding villages. It was constructed around 1st century BC
and later increased in size and splendor during the Roman period. It is a rectangular space that
measures 37 metres by 27 metres. The area was taken by several small
shops. There is also a small shrine in one end of the open air market
place dedicated to the Imperial family. Two statues stand in the niches
of the small temple. One was dedicated to Marcellus, Octavia's (sister
of Emperor Octavian Augustus) son and another was dedicated to Octavia
herself. Judging by archeological digs fish was sold underneath a round
roof that sat on columns in the center of the plaza. It was apparently
also scaled here by request of customers. Many fish scales were
discovered here in a ditch.
Comitium (Pompeii Forum)
Comitium is a site that
was located opposite of the Basilica. In the ancient times it
was a place for gathering for magistrates of Pompeii. Here they
voted for various important issues. Words like "committee" is
derived from this Latin term. The city council gathered here and
knocked out important city officials. Pompeii were controlled two
Duumvir who were chosen every year. It is not known how many terms
these political figures could get out. They sat in the Comitium and
made the last decision in all matters.
Aedil - city masters
obeyed the duumvirs and monitored the implementation of their
decisions. There were no roofs for Comitium and initially this
square was open to the entire forum. Apparently Comitium was rebuilt
right before the eruption. As a result of this construction, walls
were erected, separating a small area from the rest of the Pompeii
forum. Archaeologists have not been able to establish whether the
Comitium was a roof. Apparently some kind of wooden structure
defended members of the committee from rain and sun. Within the
walls there were also niches in which statues of gods were placed.
Most of the statues are not preserved. A wave of lava just broke
them, and scattered pieces throughout the building. Little that
remains of the once rich and colorful interior. Only multides
colored pieces were found on the floor. Therefore, it is logical to
assume that it was one of the most beautiful and stately buildings
in the whole city. Of course, nothing of this wealth has survived
today. Today there are only bare walls, devoid of frescoes, plaster
and marble, which once covered the Comitium.
Temple of Vespasian
Temple of Vespasian stands on the Eastern side of the Forum of Pompeii. The
dedication of the temple is still a subject of debate. Some think that
the sanctuary was actually devoted to the Genius (family protector) of
Octavian Augustus. Then it was transferred to subsequent emperors and
finally became the temple of Vespasian. We remind you that his
son Titus became the ruler of the Roman Empire only three months
before the death of the city of Pompeii, so the church did not
have time to transfer the new ruler.
The most prominent part of the building is a marble
altar that stands in the center. It represents part of the religious
ritual where a priest stands over a tripod for sacrifices. A man leads
the bull that is intended for the sacrifice to gods. He is carrying an
ax intended for a religious execution.
Eumachia (Pompeii Forum)
Eumachia was named after a rich and influential priestess
Eumachia who donated her money in the 1st century AD for the
construction of the temple. It is one of the most prominent
buildings on Pompeii Forum. An inscription above a side door
read: "Eumachia, daughter of Lucius, a public
priestess, in her own name, and in the name of her son, Murcus
Numistrius Fronto, made the chalcidicum, the crypta and the
porticus with her own money and dedicated the same to Concordia
Augusta and to Pietas". The structure was constructed out of
brick and later surfaces with marble slabs as a skin of the
In ancient times
Eumachia served as a warehouse and exchange site for fabrics in
the Pompeii Forum. It
is not clear what was relationship of Eumachia to fabrics, but
it is possible that her family was involved in linen business.
In the far corner of the building of Eumachia three apses were
erected. They held three statues of emperor Tiberius, Libya
(wife of Octavian Augustus and mother of Tiberius) and Nero
Claudius Drusus, brother of Tiberius. Behind the building you
can see a statue of Eumachia herself. Statue survived the
eruption, but original version is kept in the
of Naples. A replica of the ancient Roman statue stands on
the original site.
Granary (Pompeii Forum)
On the north-west side of Pompeii Forum a warehouse was built for
storing grain. In ancient times, grain and other important foods
were stored here. The food here was usually kept in case of a crop
failure or natural disaster. In such cases, diumviry or two masters,
who were chosen keep an order in the city for a set term. Under
their orders, they could open the doors of the granary and then
distributed food here for a small price to the rich and free of
charge to the poor citizens of the city. One way or another, hunger
would be the first consequence in the event of a natural cataclysm.
If Pompeii were not killed by lava, which destroyed the city in the
very morning, the granary would have been open in the first hours
after the eruption. Distributing food would be the first step in
eliminating social unrest. The old Roman rule of "Bread and show"
was always relevant.
It is easily recognizable by the modern
roof. Most of the granary of Pompeii is filled with artifacts found
in the city during archaeological excavations. Apparently in the
museums they are not needed, but it is necessary to protect.
Unfortunately, the granary is usually closed to visitors, but
through the grids you can look at the even rows of amphoras, small
things and of course plaster casts of the victims of the eruption:
people, dogs, even pigs. In some plaster casts you can see the bones
of the victims. Some casts are so well preserved that it is possible
to determine the clothing of the victim or even the status of a
person. So a large wide belt is clearly visible around the waist of
the deceased resident of Pompeii. This belt is a sign of a slave. It
had the name of the owner and address. Essentially the same thing as
we put on a dog belt today.
Piblic toilets (Pompeii Forum)
The photograph above shows the public toilets that were located
on the northwest corner of the forum. Forum Pompeii was built
wisely. One of the entrances to the Pompeii forum had public toilets
for the citizens of the city. However, like much of the forum, the
toilets have been hit hard by the pyroclastic flow. The protruding
stones along the edges of the toilet supported wooden or stone slabs
with holes in them. Under the seats flowed a stream of water that
washes away all impurities. In the photo on the right you can see
the pipe where the water flowed into the general sewage system.
Archaeological excavations in this place told a lot about the life
and diet of the ancient Romans.
There were no partitions
between the seats, so people could socialise with all those present.
By the way, they did not disdain to use a sponge on a stick to wipe
instead of toilet paper. How often this sponge washed is not known,
and do not really want to know, to be honest.
Diet in the Roman Empire The practice of throwing kitchen
waste into toilets was unhygienic in the life of the ancient Romans,
but the remnants of this garbage are now a rich source of
information. The archaeologists working here were surprised by the
quality and variety of products in the sewers of Pompeii, especially
because it was connected to a residential complex that had a large
number of poor people. The rich lived next door and hardly used the
public toilets of the Pompeii Forum. They were not only dirtier than
domestic toilets, but also much more dangerous. Anyone could have
been robbed or even killed. The Romans even made amulets and
talismans specifically for a safe trip to the public toilet.
Therefore, they were used mostly by the poor citizens of Pompeii.
Nevertheless, the data obtained during the excavations show that
even poor people ate variety of different kinds of food, most often
figs, eggs, olives, grapes and mollusks. They seasoned their dishes
with spices such as dill, mint, coriander, and mustard seeds.
Archaeologists also used the contents of the sewage system to
obtain information on the wider consumption of food. From the number
of fish bones found, she concluded that the regional trade in fish
was probably much more intense than scientists had expected.
Public weights and measures table (Pompeii Forum)
In this part of the Pompeii Forum there was a government agency
that followed the exact standard of weight, length and other Roman
units of measurement. "Mensa ponderaria" was a table with the
official measures of the city, guaranteeing citizens protection from
fraud by shop owners and merchants. All traders had to pass an
examination of this institution so that they could trade. If the
trader was caught in altering their weights or scales, such merchant
could be arrested or fined. On the photo above is an example of how
bulk products are measured (for example, grain). First, the merchant
measured his goods, and then checked against the state standard