#18.1: Vicus Tuscus

Ok now, we are next going to check out the street between the Temple of Castor and Pollux, and the Basilica Julia. Its name 'Vicus Tuscus' means 'Street of the Etruscans'.

We'll go with the legend first: The soldiers of the Etruscan Chief Caelius Vibennus who was an ally of Romulus settled in this area. They were on the Caelian Hill (named after Chief Caelius) but the suspicious Romans didn't want them to have the high ground (a hill) and wanted them closer to keep an eye on them. Another possibility was, it was inhabited by Etruscan refugees. But more likely it was just named after Etruscan workmen who were building the Temple of Jupiter during the sixth century BC on the Capitoline Hill and that was where they lived.

The street leads to the Circus Maximus and was used for parades especially during the Ludi Romani (Roman Games), when statues were carried down from the Capitoline Hill to the Circus. During the Republic it was lined with wealthy houses and shops (bookshops are mentioned) and in later years by commercial storage buildings (Horrea). It had a bad reputation for having young thieves hanging nearby looking for their next victim. Plautus wrote in about 194 BC "Behind the Temple of Castor and Pollux are those whom you would do ill to trust too quickly. In the Vicus Tucsus are those worthies who sell themselves, either to those who turn themselves or give others a chance to turn" (male prostitutes?).

Somewhere at the beginning of this street stood a very ancient and famous bronze statue of Vortumnus (God of seasons, change and plant growth, he is also a shape shifter :-) . It's famous because the legend claims it was made by the mythical sculptor Veturius Mamurius who made eleven copies of the shield that fell from Heaven for the second King of Rome. The statue is long gone but the inscribed pedestal was found in 1549 but is now lost.

Now start down the street, check out the fragment remains on the side of the Temple of Castor and Pollux and the steps of the Basilica Julia for games. Halfway down the side of the Basilica Julia you will see a modern door. It's a maintenance access to the Cloaca Maxima below, if it's quiet you can hear the water running through the ancient sewer. Somewhere behind this Basilica in the unexcavated area just outside the Forum where the modern buildings and streets rise up, there was a Greek Slave market (Greek slaves are highly prized as domestic, educational, business, etc servants) also a barber shop is mentioned in that location.

Next: #18.2: Temple of Augustus
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