A Tourist in Rome - Tarpeian Rock
|Location:||On Via de Consolazione, at the southeastern edge of the Capitoline Hill|
|Metro:||Colosseo, but see it on my To the Forum Boarium and Beyond Walking Tour instead|
|Time:||about 10 minutes|
|Hours:||Viewable at any time from the street|
The Tarpeian Rock is a steep cliff at the southeastern edge of the Capitoline Hill which was used as an execution site during the Roman Republic. Murderers, traitors, perjurors, and larcenous slaves, if convicted by the quaestores parricidii, were flung from the cliff to their deaths. Those who had a mental or significant physical disability also suffered the same fate as they were thought to have been cursed by the gods. It can be reached along the switchback walkways between the Campidoglio and the Roman Forum, either from Via dei Fori Imperiali (enter between Caesar's Forum and the Victor Emmanuel Monument) or from Via del Teatro di Marcello (enter on Vico Jugario, which turns into Via de Consolazione). Tarpea is the name of a legendary young woman who opened the doors of the Roman Arx (the citadel [the shrine to Juno] on the peak of the hill where today Santa Maria in Aracoeli is located) to the Sabines in exchange for what she thought would be a reward of jewelry. Instead the Sabines crushed her to death and threw her from a rock of the other peak which has been called Rupe Tarpea (Tarpeian Rock) since then (see the display shown in the 5th photo below, from the Curia in the Roman Forum). The ancient Romans executed traitors in a similar way; the exact site where these executions took place was debated for a long time; after the old buildings which surrounded Palazzi di Campidoglio were pulled down, the precipice on the southern side of the hill was identified as the most likely location for Rupe Tarpea.