#14.5: Via Jugarius

Ok now walk over to the fenced-off section between the side of the Temple of Saturn and the Basilica Julia. That is a street called the 'VICUS JUGARIUS' which in Roman times went from the Forum to the Porta Carmentalis (a gate in the Servian Wall). This gate was just before the 'Temple of Portunus'. This street connected the Forum to the Forum Holitorium (vegetable market and indirectly to the Forum Boarium - cattle market) and the southern end of the Campus Martius. In pre-Roman times this street (actually a dirt path for trade caravans) went from the Quirinal Hill (about 1 km north of you) right down to the Tiber River.

Now the street we see today originally entered the Forum a little more to the left but was moved over when the Basilica Julia was built. And on leaving the Forum it hugged the Capitoline Hill, they know this because in 192 BC there was a rock fall from the Capitoline Hill which killed several people walking on this street.

In Republican and Imperial times there were high-end shops located on this street. They know of one from a man's sepulchral (tomb) inscription which listed his trade as a Purpurarius (a dealer in purple. I assume clothing, cloth, dyes? It was a royal color and very expensive).

There was an arch on this street that was built against the Temple of Saturn and the Basilica Julia. Look just inside this modern fence for the concrete and brick arch remains (just the side piers) on the Temple and Basilica side. I also noticed by each end of the fence large stone blocks that could have been for an arch? But that is just a wild guess so stick with the first one which is documented. They don't know the name of this arch but it could be nothing more than just a decorative gateway. One source says that this concrete and brick arch can be no earlier than the C4 AD. Anyway it's not the Arch of Tiberius as some claim.

Also they are excavating the ruins in that area and the plans are to open up that area for visitors sometime in the future (don't hold your breath).

Ok let's start with the words VICUS and JUGARIUS. Both these words have many meanings and usages. 'Vicus' most common meaning is 'village' which doesn't apply here in the city. In the city (Rome) it means a district or precinct but also the main street through that district. Example: The Vicus Tuscus is where Etruscans once lived (Tuscus=Etruscans). (1) The fire burned out everything in the Vicus Tuscus (district). (2) From the Roman Forum take the Vicus Tuscus (street) to the Circus Maximus. Also the side streets in the district would be called 'Semitae' and dead-ends or alleyways 'Angiporta'.

Now for the word 'JUGARIUS' and this is going to be a 'what came first the chicken or the egg' :-) . We'll first go with this name coming from an ancient trade route that predates the founding of Rome by centuries. Thousands of years ago and about 750 m from where you are standing there was a shallow crossing in the Tiber River just downstream of Tiber Island. During low water it could *possibly* be crossed on foot or horseback but the caravan's cargo would have to be ferried across (a raft poled across or pulled by ropes). The island caused this shallow and the shallow made this an important land trade route. And the river also gave access downstream to the sea trade routes plus inland trade routes arriving from upstream.

This is a very major trade route junction and I wonder how the pre-Roman boys living on the hills (Palatine, Capitoline, Aventine) took advantage of this transportation hub right in their backyard? Did they charge Tolls, control the river crossing ferries or perhaps provided services (safe lodging, food, brothels, supplies, labor, protection etc)? Now along the Tiber was marshland and it often overflowed it's banks. So a trade route like the Via Salaria (salaria = salt so salt caravans) enters the future city of Rome from the Northeast and heads for this shallow crossing. Their route wants to stay on high ground as long as possible so they arrive at the Capitoline Hill's north-northeast corner and follow the base of the hill around to the other side and beeline straight to the river crossing.

So picture these ancient caravans travelling on a dirt road between the Curia and the Capitoline Hill, passing between the Hill and the Forum Square (which is a marsh), then right by you and hugging the Hill for a bit more before turning off and heading for the shallow river crossing (first bridge is possibly built in 600 BC).

[Below I'm just using Jugarius and not all of its root word spellings]

Now in that above pre-founding of Rome scenario 'Jugarius' could mean 'ridge' (also yoke or ox herd) as in the ridge road around the Capitoline Hill. So this could be the original meaning that was later lost and replaced by a new meaning after the founding of Rome? Now its other meanings could be to bind, connect, couple, yoke together or marry.

In Julius Caesar's day and even centuries before they believed this street got its name from an altar at the base of the Capitoline Hill (possibly in a cave) along this street. This altar was dedicated to 'Juno Juga', Juno was a goddess married to Jupiter and Juga in this case would be for marriage (joining, uniting, yoking together). Gods and Goddesses had many specialties with temples and altars dedicated to each specific one. So in this case Juno is a marriage goddess (especially the engagement phrase) and the street took its name from the 'Juga' meaning of her altar. Juno is an all-round 'chick goddess' which Roman women worship because she watches over them, their marriage and their children. June was named after Juno which is why even to this day it's a lucky and popular month to get married (June Bride). So if you're a couple and don't mind a little Paganism make a sacrifice to Juno to protect your marriage or future marriage while you're standing at the beginning of her street. A peacock would be great as it is sacred to Juno but perhaps just tossing a coin over the fence and onto the Vicus Jugarius would be for the best :-) .

Also I forgot to mention earlier but Cloacina (of the Shrine of Venus Cloacina ) is the protector of sexual intercourse in marriage (guys keep that money sacrifice to a euro or less :-) ).

[This procession along the Vicus Jugarius is mentioned by ancient authors]

Ok, look down the Vicus Jugarius the time is 218-217 BC and a religious procession is coming up the street. Hannibal is marching on Rome from Spain which is bad enough but there are bad omens happening throughout the country (showers of stones, blood flowing through a city gate, lightning strikes, an extremely large child is born but neither male or female {locked in a chest and tossed into the sea}, wolf attack on a guard in Capua, etc). The Roman Pontiffs decide to gather up all the Virgins in Rome and within a ten Milestone radius. Thrice nine (27) of the fairest maidens are chosen (no they don't get sacrificed) to lead this religious procession through the city to appease the Gods.

But while they are practicing their hymn in the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill the Temple of Juno on the Aventine Hill gets hit by lightning (very bad omen). Well obviously she's the most ticked-off of all the Gods and Goddesses so she gets this parade in her honor now. 25 of the 27 maidens give up their dowries and the gold is melted down into a basin and given to Juno as a present. Later in her procession two sacrificial white heifers lead followed by the 27 maidens in long white robes singing a hymn written just for Juno. Up the Vicus Jugarius into the Forum where they halt. The maidens then all take hold of a cord as a symbol of common purpose and they start singing while beating time with their feet. "And men remembered long the sight of these fair maidens". Really??? 27 of the hottest virgins in Rome in a singing and stomping frenzy with white robes flowing in the breeze and guys actually remembered this event even years later...amazing :-) .

[You've noticed I've gotten into a lot of sex stuff :-) in these sections with a little love thrown in when I can. I'm just trying to add a human element to these sites, especially if there is *nothing* left to see. And the three things that can make an ancient site interesting are Sex, Love and Murder. :-) ]

Next: #15: Basilica Julia
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