#16.3: Basilica Julia Main Entrance

OK NOW, turn around and walk back over the Via Sacra to the Basilica Julia. Ya can't miss the main middle entrance it has a tall column-like structure, two statue bases and the reconstructed steps show how they originally looked (this is across the Via Sacra from the Brick Column Bases #3 and #4). The column-like structure is a pilaster adorned with a Doric half-column. It has been reconstructed (with original 'bits and pieces' and also with modern additions to fill in the gaps) with the intention of giving the visitor an idea of what the ground floor facade once looked like. These ornament pilasters would be on both sides of the ground floor entrance arches in the front and sides of the Basilica (remember the rear has shops and offices).

Also we have two STATUE BASES here, one in front of the Pilaster and the other to the left of it. [Ok I'm pretty certain I have this right but will include other versions.] These two statue bases were inscribed for a man named 'Gabinius Vetius Praetestatus' who was 'Praefect of the City' (Urban Prefect) in 416 AD (some versions put it a 377 AD but it was very likely 416). The two statue bases (possibly second/third Century AD) were taken from another site and reinscribed. Paganism was outlawed about 23 years earlier so there is no shortage of these type materials :-) . Also it's possible that this is not their original location but were found nearby and re-erected here but they were originally somewhere in this Basilica. I know one was found on the Vicus Jugarius side of the Basilica. And Gabinius wasn't shy about putting his name on these statue bases all around here, I believe eight were found in the Forum alone :-) .

The statue bases supported Pagan-era bronze statues taken from temples and civic buildings and were used as ornamental decorations/art gallery all around the Forum. And being bronze none(?) have survived but were all melted down at some later point in history.

OK let's go with the one on the right in front of the Pilaster. It's inscribed as seen here: www.vroma.org/~bmcmanus/PROBIANUS.html GABINIUS. VETTIUS. PROBIANUS. V. C. PRAEF. URB. STATUAM. QUAE. BASILICAE. IULIAE. A SE. NOVITER. REPARATAE. ORNAMENTO. ESSET. ADIECIT. Or roughly "Gabinius Vettius Probianus who is Urban Prefect has put up this statue to ornament the Basilica Julia which he has lately restored". Remember the Visigoths burned down this Basilica six years earlier.

Now on top of this base and the other one on the left is a very thin statue base (plinth). These plinths were the ones that originally held the bronze statues (also taken from another location) and are both inscribed. These plinths date to the third Century AD and were inscribed to the famous Greek sculptors of the Classical Period Polyclitus and Timarchus. And if I recall you can see the inscriptions on one or both of these bases from where you are standing.

Other inscribed plinths of the famous sculptors Praxiteles, Bryaxis and others have also been found in the Forum. I wonder were these famous masterpieces placed on public display in the Forum to show the people 'How great we *once* were' and perhaps to give them hope? It would have been too late though, Rome is too far into its decline, in 60 years they will see their last Emperor deposed and will be ruled-over by Ostrogothic Kings.

Next: #16.4: Caligula's Bridge
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