#17.2: Inscription

Ok now, look at the pavement directly in front of the Column of Phocas and you can just make out bronze lettering running left-to-right 13 m / 42 feet long. The bronze letters (30 cm / 1 foot) are a 1955 restoration on an inscription that was cut (matrices) into the Forum pavement and then fitted with bronze letters which were likely taken centuries later and melted down. If I am not mistaken it is only a partial restoration of the lettering and it has been restored only with the letters: L. NAEVIUS L. INUS PR But it would have originally read: L. NAEVIUS L. F. SURDINUS PR, which stood for L. Naenius Surdinus (his name) PR (PRaetor - the office he held).

Surdinus was a 'Praetor Peregrinus' which is basically a high ranking judge who oversees trials involving Peregrini either with each other or with Roman citizens and also their conduct in Roman society. A Peregrini is a free-born foreigner who is a Subject of the Roman Empire and has what is called the 'Latin Right'. These Rights are less than a Roman Citizen and they can't vote.

Surdinus was also one of three men in charge of the Mint ('Triumvir Monetalis' where perhaps the word 'money' comes from) several times between 23-9 BC. In 14 BC a fire destroys much of the Forum and Surdinus oversees (and/or pays for) the paving of the Forum Square about 10 BC. He must have done a damn good job because they let him sign it :-) . Where you are standing the PR is closest to you but upside-down, so the inscription would be seen correctly from the Rostra.

Up to his point in history there have been a few repavings of the Roman Forum but this is the last one. As the ground level rises over the years around the Forum (especially the surrounding Via) a curb will be placed around the Square so you would step-down into it.

With Augustus ending the Gladiator Games with the wooden stands in the Forum the Square changes. In the past monuments were limited and they were either low (like the Lacus Curtius, on the other side of the fence nearby) or removable, now they can be everywhere and big.

So the Forum paving you see today is from about 10 BC so Caesar never walked upon it but all the later Emperors did. It's pretty much intact but it has been patched up and re-adjusted by archaeologists because some paving stones were robbed in later centuries and some have been removed for modern excavations.

Besides repaving the Forum Surdinus also restored the Lacus Curtius and built a new Tribunal Praetoris *in* the Forum Square The Tribunal Praetoris is an elevated outdoor judgment seat of the Praetor (basically a judge at trials). Originally in the Comitium on a movable wooden platform, but now a solid fixture with at least a stone base (probably more but nothing elaborate or very high) in the Forum.

Next: #17.3: The Fig Tree
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